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My Take: For some, the pressure is just too much
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        Georgia Southern isn’t the only program ever to be put on probation by the National Collegiate Athletics Association, that’s for sure.
    Heck, it isn’t even the only program in Georgia.
    Georgia, West Georgia, Alabama, Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Florida State, Miami, Southern Methodist, Colorado, Baylor, Memphis, Kentucky, MTSU, FIU, BYU, TCU, etc., etc., etc. – the list goes on and on.
    Why would two former assistant basketball coaches cheat for two former players? Simple.
    It’s the same thing that would cause a national football power to give recruits cars, money and textbooks, a school to upgrade the family of a recruit’s living situation, the flagship university in our own state to enroll basketball players in a made-up class and commit all sorts of fraud, or a small Methodist university in Texas to pay its football players full-blown salaries and signing bonuses for 15 years – pressure.
    It’s a sad state of affairs when coaches, boosters and players violate the rules everyone else is following, and it’s even sadder when it happens because of the need to ease the pressure – the pressure to keep your job, the pressure to keep kids eligible and, sadly, most importantly, the pressure to win.
It’s important to note here something I found interesting from the teleconference that first presented the findings last Wednesday. It started off not-so-informative, with Paul Dee, the chair of the Division ¬I Committee of Infractions for the NCAA, pretty much reading word-for-word from a press release that had already been distributed.
The only thing he added (that wasn’t on the release) was that he wanted to thank GSU’s administration for its cooperation and help throughout the entire investigation.
Thankfully, it was an isolated case involving only two assistant coaches and two players and that, according to the NCAA, nobody else was involved at all - a case of “one rotten apple spoiling the whole bushel” if you will. And that was a relief.
But it still begs the question of why two Southern Conference assistant coaches would even consider putting their own integrity, as well as the integrity of the two student-athletes and the university, on the line. Again, too much pressure, that’s my guess.
Now, for the good news.
Charlton Young has proven, so far, to be the answer.
That man was given the opportunity to be the next head coach, and he took it. He took it despite the fact that he would be limited in scholarships and recruiting visits and that the program would be on probation until 2012.
He entered the equation knowing that he would be at a huge disadvantage, in a huge mess, and he seemed to say, “No, I don’t want to let someone else to clean up this mess. Yes, I want to be the man to pick up my alma mater and bring it back to the glory I remember.”
He knew what he was getting in to when he accepted the position, and since he got here, despite the disadvantage, has already recruited ESPN’s top SoCon class of 2010.
Considering the limitations, that’s not too shabby.
As for the product currently on the court, he’s lucky. He’s lucky it’s his first year and he’s lucky that he has to deal with some severe penalties, because those factors really change the perspective.
Because he basically gets a “pass” this first season, that pressure, the pressure that causes some men to crack and others to cheat, isn’t there. And without that pressure, you can take a step back and see the situation for what it is.
Sure, that team is 5-16 right now, and under normal circumstances, that’s just plain bad. But under the current circumstances, you don’t have to look too far to see the rays of hope shining from behind the cloud of controversy. You need only to look to Saturday’s game against Davidson.
Those boys were down 21 points with six minutes to go, and they lost by four.
They have been through suspensions, coaching changes and loss after loss, and two-thirds of the way into the season, they still haven’t quit. They still believe.
They’ve proven that they will not throw in the towel no matter what happens, and to me, that is a sign of bright things to come. That tells me that in the seasons to come, when that pressure gets turned up and wins are expected, even demanded, Young will be ready to answer the call, and he’ll do it the old-fashioned way. Not with cheating, not with rule violations and not with dishonesty, but with integrity, talent and, of course, “championship people.”

Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.