Matt: You're fighting an uphill battle on this site regarding Calipari. There is absolutely zero evidence to suggest that Calipari has ever done anything wrong. It's really just unfortunate circumstances in which all these things have magically happened "on his watch". You might expect the head coach to be accountable for such things, but that's just nonsense. He just has a bad reputation. It's really quite sad.
John: I don't have any sources that would give me first hand knowledge, but my guess is that the NCAA wanted Pearl for his involvement in the Ilinois case while at Iowa. It's counterintuituve, as you would think the NCAA would support those who provide information about violations, but I don't know all the specifics of that case. I do know that his involvement in that case caused many in the media (notably Vitale and Bilas at ESPN) to have conspicuously negative opinions of Pearl (even before photo incident). Seems Pearl "broke the code". I don't have the real reasons behind it, but why else would the NCAA came after Pearl with guns blazing, categorizing the non-bump as a major violation (only to later shrug it off as something they were barely aware of) and then drop the hammer? Seems a one year show cause in addition to King Slive's banishment (Thanks Mike. Tell the Newtons we said hello!) and his severe financial penalties would be sufficient. It was apparent from the outset that the end goal was to make sure Bruce Pearl never coached in the NCAA again. Mission accomplished.
As for Tressel, there is a long stream of written documentation that chronicles his attempt to cover up the violations at OSU prior to him signing the document AND continuing to play ineligible players in the meantime. So he lied to keep players eligible. It remains to be seen what will happen to Tressel, but nothing would surprise me. He might get the Calipari kid gloves and show up on the sidelines at a major program in 2012 or he might receive a show cause of some length.
The NCAA doesn't care about amateurism. The care about money and money only. That's why you have rampant corruption with Fiesta Bowl Reps throwing lavish parties for ADs and other admins (of course, the only reason there's any hint of this is because the Feds got involved), ineligible OSU players cleared to play in bowl games, and Administrators overseeing the most corrupt programs in the country like Paul Dee LEADING enforcement efforts and personally handing down self-righteous verdicts to other cheaters.
Pearl's biggest flaw is that he was a neophyte. Pearl was a more naive version of Henry in Good Fellas. He toiled in obscurity and finally worked his way up to the bigtime. But unlike Henry, he broke the code and there was no exit strategy. Do you think John Calipari has cookouts at his house for recruits? Please. He has Jay-Z, World Wide Wes and other runners hosting events ...and I feel certain they're far more wholesome and above board than a backyard BBQ. Pearl didn't know how to play the game, and in a game where amateurism is a farce and corruption rules he was quickly dispatched.