Ironically, the 1.6 rule was abolished by the NCAA in January. Under the new recruiting regulation—a minimum 2.0 high school average with no regard to probable college success—Jackson would have qualified.
You do not need a high grade average to know somebody is guilty. If you were another university recruiting Jackson, you would not need a high grade average to realize his class standing suddenly improved.
Also unexplained is who ratted on Oklahoma? Who turned stoolie? Every time a Big Eight school gets in trouble, the Southwest Conference gets blamed. Some say Texas turned Oklahoma in because Texas has not beaten the Sooners in three years. Others, more philosophical because they are not the ones in trouble, sympathized: punishment is winner's hell. "What would an 0-11 team forfeit?" asked a wise guy. "Basketball games? And what about all those bets I lost?"
Steve Owens, the Detroit Lion runner who was a Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma, took the occasion to point out that Oklahoma was one of the few schools that recruited him honestly. "I was offered $5,000 cash if I would sign with one school, and another made it $10,000," said Owens.
Having confessed its sins, Oklahoma now has to await the penalties it will receive, first from the Big Eight, then from the NCAA. There is precedent for enforcement of forfeits in the conference. In 1960 Kansas was charged with using an ineligible player, Bert Coan, and had to forfeit two conference games and the Big Eight title. There is also precedent for strict penalties. In 1970 Kansas State was placed on three-year probation for recruiting violations.
Eight forfeits would alter Oklahoma's conference record to 3-4 rather than 6-1, and its overall record would be 3-9, pretty sorry for the nation's No. 2 team. A Sugar Bowl representative, when asked what a forfeit would do to his organization's record books, answered that it could create "an asterisk."
Until the Big Eight Conference meets May 16 in Manhattan, Kans., what will happen is speculation. The forfeits and additional punishment, if any, could be made public then. The NCAA will investigate, too. It always investigates, too.
All types and combinations of additional penalties are available. A probationary period would prevent Oklahoma from appearing on national television, although games with Texas and Nebraska are already scheduled for the 1973 season. It would also keep the Sooners from playing for the conference championship and out of lucrative postseason competition. The nationally televised Nebraska game will give $440,000 to the Big Eight schools, the Texas game, half that. Big bread.
It seems certain that both televised games will go on as scheduled, although Tom Hansen, assistant executive director of the NCAA, emphasized the severity of the accusation. "It is one thing to make a mistake such as keeping a prospect on campus too long or buying his high school coach a meal, but questions having to do with academic integrity strike right at the heart of a school's program and its ability to regulate that program."
But Hansen added: "The contract between ABC and the NCAA has been approved, and we would consider it binding. It may be too late for the network to make any changes." Meaning that when a network pays $13.5 million a year to televise college football games, including such as Oklahoma-Nebraska, it may not allow a little recruiting scandal to prevent it.