With each passing day, the controversy swirling around former North Carolina assistant John Blake seems to add yet another questionable layer and bring further into question exactly what the hell Butch Davis‘ “trusted aide” was doing during his three years in Chapel Hill.
The latest development involves the second pick of last April’s NFL draft, and once again brings up the name of NFL agent Gary Wichard in connection to Blake.
Based on an open records request, the Raleigh News & Observer has obtained the cell phone and desk phone records of Blake from the periods Oct. 31, 2009, to June 22, 2010, and May 11, 2009, to Aug. 30, 2010, respectively.
According to those records, Blake was in communication with — either via a phone call or text; the records don’t distinguish between the two — former Nebraska and current Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh or members of his family a total of 19 times during the timelines noted above. While that in and of itself would not constitute a violation, the paper reports that, either immediately before or after or after the communications with Suh and/or his family, Blake spoke to Wichard for an extended period of time. The paper listed two examples of this type of coincidence.
On Nov. 5, Blake had a one-minute communication with Ngum Suh’s number at 7 p.m. At 7:02 p.m., Blake called Wichard’s cell phone and talked for 19 minutes.
On Dec. 7, Blake had a call for six minutes with Ngum Suh’s number at 7:12 p.m. At 7:18 p.m., Blake called Wichard’s cell phone and talked for 15 minutes.
The obvious implication is that Blake was attempting to steer Suh toward Wichard. Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus reportedly told NCAA investigators that Blake lobbied for Wichard to become the lineman’s agent upon entering the NFL. Dareus also accused Blake of doing the same with former South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders.
Suh’s mother Bernadette told the News & Observer that “[n]o one recommended anyone to us… It didn’t happen. Even if [Blake] did, it’s none of your business — it’s nobody’s business.”
(Writer’s note: we believe the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office may disagree with that last assertion.)
Ultimately, Suh did not sign with Wichard or even place the agent in his final three choices; instead, he signed with Maximum Sports Management on Jan. 27. Even then, though, the communication between Blake and Suh did not stop; according to the paper, there were four calls in February, one in March, four in April and one in June.
“What, do you think recruiting players or running for agents stops when they sign with someone else?” one agent asked us rhetorically Wednesday morning, although it should be noted that it’s not been, and may never be, proven Blake was a “runner” for anyone.
Of course, there is a prior relationship between Blake and Suh that must be taken into consideration as well; the former recruited the latter and coached him for two seasons at Nebraska before moving on to the Tar Heels.
Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini was sufficiently concerned about Blake’s post-‘Huskers contact with Suh that he asked a member of the football program to call UNC and take care of the issue. “I remember something coming up,” Pelini said, “but I don’t know the extent of what it was.”
The Omaha World-Herald reports that Nebraska has received no inquiries from the NCAA in regard to Blake and his tenure at NU.