"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
Pat Haden fell down the rabbit hole and is trying to make sense of the Cam Newton decision at a mad tea party. Let's listen in.
Mad Hatter (SEC Commissoner, Mike Slive): When is a NCAA violation not a violation? When is an ineligible player eligible?
Alice (Haden): With all due respect, sir, once all agree on a violation and eligibility, isn't that the end? Except for penalties and appeals, of course.
(Laughter all around)
March Hare (Auburn Athletic Director, Jay Jacobs): That's not really the question, is it? You may see similarities between Reggie Bush's parents taking money and Cam Newton's father (allegedly) taking money, but there are none. When is the NCAA like a courtroom?
Alice (Haden): Nonsense. But, I enjoy riddles. When "by laws" are involved? We admit some similarities exist, but mostly it's hard to make sense of many NCAA decisions. One side makes you bigger, one side makes you smaller. Who's to tell? North Carolina held out thirteen of their players against LSU due to eligibility questions. Why should any school do that again?
Mad Hatter (Slive): "The conduct of Cam Newton's father and the involved individual is unacceptable and has no place in the SEC or in intercollegiate athletics. The actions taken by Auburn University and Mississippi State University make it clear this behavior will not be tolerated in the SEC." I'm most proud of that one. Little girl, you must know that our - I mean, the NCAA President - was the LSU chancellor for five years before becoming President of the University of Washington the last seven years.
Alice: No, sir. My head is spinning. Your schools reported the violations in January. The SEC investigated. Auburn found him eligible, then ineligible and suspended him. Now he's reinstated and you blame the father? The kid gets to play, improve his draft stock, sign a great deal with the NFL for him and his family, and all are innocent? What's in this tea?
Dormouse (Mark Emmert, NCAA President): I believe I speak for all of us in saying that we all have the best interests of college football and the student-athletes who play our games at heart. If it just weren't for Yahoo Sports.... Well, we can't control all the media. Yet.
Alice: Yahoo isn't on my Christmas card list, for sure. But, surely, you see the lack of logic in declaring a player ineligible and sending him next door to have his eligibility restored by the Reinstatement Committee?
Alice: We've told our kids that if the parent does something inappropriate, the child suffers the consequences. Could we have done the same thing with Bush? Declared Reggie ineligible, then gotten him reinstated?
Mad Hatter: Of course. Now you're getting it.
Dormouse (Emmert): We recognize that many people are outraged at the notion that a parent or anyone else could ‘shop around’ a student-athlete and there would possibly not be repercussions on the student-athlete’s eligibility. Hatter, how much will we make on the Championship games? The BCS bowls?
Mad Hatter: Not really relevant now, Mark. Let's talk money later. My cup is empty. I need a new teacup. Move down, move down. (All stand up and move to new places/ new cases on the table.)
Caterpillar (George Bodenheimer, ESPN President and Co-Chairman Disney, looking at Alice for the first time): Who are you? (Smoke curls around his head)
Alice: Nobody, sir. Just trying to fit in. Can I have a bite of the other side of the mushroom? One just doesn't like changing so often, you know.
Dormouse: Follow the money. Feed your head.
Caterpillar: Quiet, Mouse. A smoke off the hookah will help you, too, little girl.
Alice: Madness. Madness.
The Cheshire Cat smiles broadly in the background, fading into Chris Berman as the Red Queen.
Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit (feel free to listen while you read)