Dan Patrick: Tennessee Was Handing Recruits Cash in McDonald’s Bags

Over the last six months or so, Dan Patrick has turned into a prolific college football insider. Today, he dropped a bombshell: Tennessee assistants were apparently handing out cash to recruits in McDonald’s bags.

“Some of the campus visits were not organized or they were not above board, but they were handing out cash — I don’t know if it was through the drive-thru,” he joked. “So you literally had bag-men and they put the cash in McDonald’s bags and handed it to the recruits. My source said they were so in-your-face with this. They weren’t even trying to hide it. And that’s where my source said, ‘Tennessee got sloppy. Georgia has gotten sloppy, but there’s been no word on the NCAA looking at Georgia.'”

Dan Patrick also said it didn’t sound like the SEC would be keen on Hugh Freeze getting the coaching job, that Peyton Manning and the Haslam brothers (Bill, who is former governor of Tennessee, and Jimmy, who owns the Cleveland Browns) would be involved in the coaching search, and that one name to keep an eye on would be Jason Witten, who grew up in Tennessee and played for the Vols in college.

Tennessee fired head coach Jeremy Pruitt and nine other football staffers on Monday, after conducting an investigation the last couple months. While there was no evidence that Pruitt was involved in the recruiting violations, Tennessee believed that language in his contract enabled them to fire him for cause. Pruitt’s attorney came out swinging last night.

I guess we’ll see what happens with Tennessee and the NCAA from here, but this report sure makes it sound like they weren’t nearly careful enough with their cash transactions to have them slide under the radar. We assume these payments happen all over the place, but Tennessee is the program that got caught in this instance.


Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.


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  1. Probably best to keep it to pre-paid debit cards, like Auburn (allegedly).

    What’s funny about all this is that UT is saving a bunch of money by “turning itself in” and using the NCAA as a tool. I’m sure the NCAA is happy with this, given that they really don’t need to do anything while being led around by the nose to whatever evidence they desire, and later on get to issue scintillating press droppings extolling their toughness and virtue. What a load…

    I can’t imagine any coach in his right mind (admittedly, a dwindling number) taking a job with a nest of snakes like this. Flee, Jason Witten! Flee in terror!!

  2. Does anyone really believe that the SEC’s elite programs don’t buy the talent? Yeah, college football is a big lie. Removing the crowds this year only revealed the corruption as it couldn’t be veiled by school spirit and parties. Just soulless stadiums empty of excitement just like the semi-pro athletes who are all building their personal brands. I’m looking around and just having no luck finding compelling sports to watch. Good luck to all these leagues and the lies they are selling.

    • So basically the Southwest Conference just morphed into the Southeast Conference.

      That being said I’m sure this is the case in every Power 5 conference…but the big football schools get sloppy. They have some Sherwood in the background.

  3. I think Jason Witten is a favorite to be the Dallas Cowboys head coach within a few years. He’s always been a Jerry Jones guy. Over the years you could see on the sidelines and after games in the locker room that Witten was a leader.

  4. Hasn’t UT Football had a “thuggish” reputation for 10-15 years + ?. Endless off-field incidents with assaults, rapes etc etc … A LOT even by normal SEC standards. Even “Saint Peyton” had his “issue”.

    A revolving door of HCs but “the culture” remained. How come dat ???

  5. Here in NC we call it the “thousand dollar handshake”. Mack Brown has the patent on it. Duke/UNC basketball probably give away cars instead of cash. Even my beloved NC State is not above it, we paid Dennis Smith $40k to lead us to a losing season.

  6. We assume these payments happen all over the place…

    You cynical, cynical man…

    Sure the process of college recruiting is rotten [forced underground by ridiculous rules about ‘amateurism’]. But at least we know Duke Basketball is clean.

    Yup, in the midst of rampant corruption they consistently come out on top despite being totally clean.

    Just like Lance Armstrong!

    Thank God they’re gonna throw the book at Arizona, Kansas and Louisville. That’ll fix it.

    Meanwhile, the little money machine in Durham keeps right on rolling…

    • Yeah funny how duke suddenly started bringing in elite recruits isn’t it? When the old narrative on them was they couldn’t get anybody good to play there due to their alleged academics (indoctrination). Sudddenly all these elite high school basketball stars are excellent students….

    • Yup. Kansas is under investigation because of alleged promised money to Zion, yet he ends up at Duke and poof his parents have a brand new house in Durham (the good part of town). Yet there is no investigation into Duke. I don’t like Calipari but he does get one thing right, it was criticized when he was the king of one and done, now that Rat King Coach K does it well its all right. I think all programs cheat to a certain degree.

  7. Almost SMU levels of brazenness. It’s gonna be funny looking back at things like this when they start paying the athletes. No way it’s not happening, the media has its tendrils all over paying these spoiled brats. They don’t get into enough trouble; now we’re gonna give thrm money to boot!

  8. Here’s something that’s always mystified me. Why don’t the kids ever get in trouble for TAKING the money when they also know they’re breaking the rules? That’s how you’d stop this. The university is punished and the kid or family who KNOWINGLY accepted the money should share responsibility. But the ncaa doesn’t really want to stop it now do they?

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