A second chance to get away with it

Outside of framing your murdered center as a drug dealer to befuddle NCAA investigators, what does a coach have to do anymore to never get another Division I coaching job? And yet, maybe there's still time for Dave Bliss this spring because there isn't much a P.R.-savvy coach can't do to scrub his candidacy clean and get back on the bench.

Whatever the past sins, everything seems so easily dismissed, so simply explained and justified and revised for that introductory news conference. As the university presidents and athletic directors insist that this is the beginning of an era of reform in college athletics, they continue to make it clear there is only one unpardonable past sin on a coach's resume: a losing record.

Every wayward coach in the country ought to be rooting hard for Eddie Sutton and Oklahoma State in this Final Four, because his success is the kind of twisted logic that schools use to validate the hiring of anyone, as they love to say, who can get it done.

They never did completely pin that Kentucky scandal on Sutton, because Dwayne Casey honored the coach's code and protected his boss. After UK ended up on that famous Sports Illustrated cover, it wasn't long until Sutton's alma mater, Oklahoma State, made that "Kentucky Shame" its gain. From the SEC to the Big 12, it wasn't much of a tumble for Sutton. Never is for the proven winner.

Nobody says Larry Eustachy had to have a lifetime ban for the monumental embarrassment he heaped on Iowa State, but one year later he gets a new multi-year contract at Southern Mississippi?

At least, of course, Southern Miss knows he'll win games there. So, what's the University of Houston's excuse for hiring Tom Penders? And Miami's for considering Mike Jarvis? These two didn't want to work in the last job they had -- never mind all the issues they had with player behavior. With all the young, hungry coaches out there -- willing to work and coach and engage themselves in the lives of these players -- it's beyond belief that Penders and Jarvis could both get out of the spring with big jobs.

Penders sold A.D. Dave Maggard on one more big pay day, because college coaching is a far more lucrative racket than doing NCAA tournament games on the radio. The biggest joke in basketball was Penders resigning at George Washington for "burnout." Probably more like sunburn, for spending so much time on the golf course. And understand: GW never would've hired Penders if it had understood the complete depth of Penders' scandalous ending at the University of Texas.

Yet, all you had to do was listen to the Houston president explain the rationale for hiring Penders and his priorities were perfectly clear: They're tired of an empty gymnasium.

Penders doesn't want to stop with his personal reclamation project -- he says he wants disgraced ex-St. Bonaventure coach Jan van Breda Kolff to get hired again too. Van Breda Kolff can make his six-figures with the New Orleans Hornets forever, but it would take a reckless athletic director to let him back into the college game.

He originated a corruption case that turned St. Bonaventure into a national joke, that reduced a board of trustees chair to such shame, he committed suicide. At the end, van Breda Kolff's players were so wounded by his betrayal, they quit him and the administration. He recruited a junior college player with a welding certificate -- even when everyone in the athletic department and registrar's office told him it was the most preposterous and illegal thing that they had ever heard. He enlisted the assistance of the jock-sniffing school president, Robert Wickenheiser, to ramrod the player, Jamil Terrell, into his lineup, and thus, spiraled the university into uncharted depths.

And despite what van Breda Kolff contends, the NCAA inquiry didn't absolve van Breda Kolff of responsibility. It's just that Wickenheiser has thrust everything on himself in an attempt to spare his son, Kort's, coaching career. An assistant coach under van Breda Kolff, he was the conduit between the coach and the president. Wickenheiser has been willing to fall on the sword for his own kid, and van Breda Kolff gets to go along for the ride on it. Only a fool wouldn't see it for what it is, but then, van Breda Kolff had some winning seasons along the way.

And just when you think there isn't a president and athletic director dumb enough in college basketball, someone stands up and raises his hand. In this business, just when you think you're out of the game, your name is rising on someone's short list.

Hey, Dave Bliss still has a winning record, and that would've been one hell of a team at Baylor this season with Lawrence Roberts and John Lucas Jr. Maybe he just needs another year out of the game, maybe just a little longer to make people forget.

Stop laughing.

Seriously, stop laughing.

Adrian Wojnarowski is a columnist for The Bergen Record and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPNWoj8@aol.com.