Every scandal needs a villain. In the case of Memphis' vacated Final Four season, two have emerged. But I'm unclear why there aren't three.
Popular opinion is saddling John Calipari with most of the blame. No surprise there. Coach Cal was Memphis' coach since 2000 and turned the Tigers into a national title contender. Anything regarding the program – victories, recruiting, publicity, compliance – falls to Calipari.
Yet, he's emerging unscathed from the whole mess, at least as far as NCAA punishments are concerned. His reputation isn't.
Some critiques are levelheaded, like Luke Winn's from SI.com. The punishment may not affect Coach Cal, but it's an indictment on Calipari's program management. Such is life when you become the only coach to ever have Final Fours vacated at two different schools.
Others are more than a little miffed with Calipari. Take Geoff Calkins at the Memphis Commerical-Appeal. Doesn't sound like he'll ever forgive Calipari for leaving Memphis AND not sharing any of NCAA punishment. Our own Mike Celizic is of the same opinion: Calipari's reputation is in tatters, and rightly so.
Of course, some aren't concerned with the Coach as much as they are with the NCAA.
The NCAA erred when it came to administering justice toward Memphis. Gregg Doyel thinks the organization is selective when crashing down on schools or coaches. Not that Memphis shouldn't be punished if it broke the rules, but apply the same rules to ever school. His biggest example? Duke's 1999 Final Four appearance has never been vacated despite Corey Maggette accepting $2,000 from a summer basketball coach. A decision is still coming on that. (To Mike Krzyzewski's credit, he said all the right things when the Maggette news emerged.)
Mostly, I agree with Truzenzuzex at ASeaofBlue. This is one scandal that has something to anger everyone. The NCAA chose the easy scapegoat in Memphis, but there's plenty of blame to go around.
Like some for Derrick Rose, the guy who is at the center of the mess.
Rose was accused of having another person take his SAT. Memphis and the NCAA clearing house cleared the player, but SAT officials later conducted their own investigation and notified the player, the school and the NCAA.
(Rose's brother also received free transportation and hotel lodging that season, but the main issue is the academic eligibility.)
Rose denied the allegations, telling ESPN this summer that he "didn't do anything wrong. That was up to Memphis what they had to do."
So not only was Rose ineligible, but he didn't learn how to take responsibility for his actions. An apology might've helped the school. It might've helped his coach. But he's washing his hands of a mess he helped create.
There's room for a third villain in this mess. When you rip Calipari and the school, save some for Rose, too.
UPDATE: Saw Mike DeCourcy's story on the whole mess later Thursday. If you haven't yet, please read it. Stop right now. Read it. He details the test-taking mess, why it became an issue (oddly), how it was handled (poorly) and a closer look at the investigation (goofy).