I’m not trying to make this sound sinister, but it’s apparent that the situation with Bryce Brown’s eligibility at Tennessee is a bit more serious than the school first let on.
Tennessee has received the NCAA’s initial ruling on freshman running back Bryce Brown’s eligibility and is reportedly appealing without revealing the issues it disputes.
“That’s not a final decision by any measure,” athletic director Mike Hamilton said on Wednesday, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
Maybe not, but it’s serious enough to appeal, nevertheless. And no one, including Hamilton, should have been surprised about what concerns the NCAA.
… Sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the crux of the NCAA’s investigation revolves around Brown’s relationship with Brian Butler, who was Brown’s adviser/handler during his recruitment. Brown was one of several prospects that Butler mentored.
In particular, the NCAA is looking into some of the fundraising Brown accepted in high school to visit college campuses and what role Butler might have played.
Low speculated yesterday (after cautioning us not to jump to conclusions – and don’t you love it when somebody does that?) that the timing over this suggested that the NCAA was furnished with information about Brown by another school, but I’m not sure I buy that. I think the NCAA is concerned about the potential AAU-ing of college football recruiting and is engaged in some judicious bud-nipping here.
If nothing else, should it take some time to weigh on the merits of the UT appeal of Brown’s current ineligibility such that he isn’t cleared to play until, say, mid-October, that still has a significant impact on both the athlete and the school. Brown doesn’t have a scholarship right now. He’s limited with what he can do with the team. It’s hard to see how he’ll be game-ready when he’s cleared. All in all, that more than likely adds up to a lost year. And since he doesn’t strike me as the kind of player who’s making a four-year commitment to his school, that probably means Kiffin only gets two years out of him.
More trouble than it’s worth? Perhaps not. Given Brown’s ability and Tennessee’s needs at present, it’s hard to argue with Kiffin’s risk/reward analysis in signing the kid (particularly since he hedged that bet by signing Oku as well). But in situations where it’s a closer call, will the NCAA’s concerns be given greater weight by programs facing the decision to make offers to recruits with “advisers” which want to avoid this sort of uncertainty? Probably.