Auburn & Real Sports
One Week Later
Let’s say Stanley McClover, Troy Reddick, Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray were all lying
on last week's episode of HBO's Real Sports.
Let’s say they all have axes to grind and let’s say they all conspired to concoct this one gigantic whopper
full of "pure garbage," as Gene Chizik called it, to get back at the Auburn football program for one reason or another. Then, Auburn,
why such a timid response?
Where’s the anger?
When do the lawsuits start flying?
Why aren’t you going ballistic?
Why aren't you responding with something more than
an expected "we'll conduct an investigation." (By
the way, feel free to apply this to Tommy Tuberville,
Ohio State, LSU, and Michigan State, too.)
The four former players have just attempted to destroy the reputation of Auburn University and its football program,
so if they’re lying, Auburn, you have to know ten minutes and three phone calls after the show aired whether or not it was all true. If it's false, go get them and make them pay and/or get them on the record so that if they're lying they run into perjury issues. Take them to court and come up with some way to punish them for defaming the school’s name ... if you think you're innocent. Meanwhile, Tuberville, if they’re
wrong, you have a slam-dunk of a defamation of character suit. So either do something
real about this or you’re leaving us no choice but to assume that
it was all spot on. (However, McClover and company,
if you're telling the truth, you have to start
busting out more details and you have to get more
specific. This doesn't end with the Real Sports piece; you
have to empty the entire bag and stay in the
spotlight or else those who say you're lying will
drown you out.)
Auburn University, one way or another, where’s your moral outrage? And no, it’s not about being mad at the players for squawking; it’s about either 1)
the higher-ups and the academic side of the school being
more ticked off about the lies, if they're lies, or 2) being enraged that they’re telling the truth and that all of this
really did happen.
Whether or not the NCAA comes up with any proof or
hands down any sanctions from the confessions shouldn’t matter. Auburn, as a university and an institution of higher learning, don’t YOU want your football program to be considered 100% clean? (And, for some, the answer might actually be no.) Don’t YOU care about your reputation on a national scale? Don’t YOU want to be taken seriously ever again any time your football program signs a five-star recruit, wins a big game, or looks a recruit’s mother in the eye and tries to talk about integrity?
And no, don't whine about being singled out by the
media or anyone else. Yes, if the accusations are
true, you might only have been keeping up with traffic, but
that doesn't mean you weren't speeding. Welcome to
life as a national champion.
But here’s what’s going to happen. Auburn is going to keep finding former
players to say that they didn't get any money and
it'll keep issuing statements about wanting to do the right thing and how it always complies with NCAA guidelines. There will be some press release somewhere down the road saying the school will abide by whatever ruling is handed down from the NCAA, if and when there are any findings in any investigation that eventually comes. However, the thing that fans and several
writers don’t seem to grasp is that even if the four players are telling the truth, there almost certainly won’t be any smoking gun whatsoever for the NCAA to find because the people who
provide players with payoffs and handouts are very, very good at keeping it very, very quiet.
How come you haven’t heard of payments before from other places? It’s because boosters, coaches, and anyone who gives players money do it in cash with no paper trail and no possible way of getting caught. A player got $1000 in a bag? Okay, prove it. Every college kid who gets paid off spends that money IMMEDIATELY – it’s not like he's sticking it in a 401K – and if anyone does want to blab, like McClover, then it becomes a he-said/he-said thing against a monster college football program, helped by its rabid fan base, that always wins and always comes down like a hammer on anyone who dares to step out of line.
Good luck ever getting a job in Alabama or maintain
any semblance of privacy, guys.
The other side of this that gets forgotten is that it’s okay to lie to the NCAA. Just like breaking NCAA regulations, to a point, doesn’t violate any real law, lying to the NCAA doesn’t carry any real punishment. It’s not like lying to the FBI or to a Federal Grand Jury, and it’s not like there are any perjury charges coming if you don’t comply with the NCAA’s
questions. So, again, if Auburn cares about its reputation, it has to handle this
the right way and it has to do it immediately.
If I’m an Auburn grad – and I’ve heard from dozens who are saying this – I don’t want my degree dragged down
in any way and I don’t want the reputation of my
beloved alma mater sullied by the accusations made by McClover and company.
If I’m a die-hard Auburn football fan – and I’ve heard from dozens who are saying this – I want what I’m seeing to be real so I can enjoy it and be truly proud, and I want the truth to come out either
way. I can’t tell you how many Tiger fans I’ve talked to and e-mailed with who had all sorts of conflicted feelings about everything that happened last season,
and no, not every Auburn fan blindly cares about
winning at all costs.
Auburn, you did what you had to do with the Cam Newton situation. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, let’s all assume that Newton was clean – for now – and
let's assume that you truly didn't know if there was something going on. Since no one could find anything, and the NCAA gave you an all-timer of a break, you let the guy play as the controversy
went through the process. Fine. That was in the heat
of the season and there was no great way to handle
it, but this is different.
Auburn, you can’t just let this run its course and hope it goes away or gets forgotten, because in today’s day and age, the online media won’t let this go and
everyone will keep asking questions like they did with
Reggie Bush and USC.
It’s your choice.
Either 1) go after McClover, Reddick, Ramsay and Gray
legally, in the media, and with a full-court PR
press and start screaming that the accusations were all vicious lies
(from someone other than Chizik), and really and
truly determine whether or not the story is a
fake; 2) find out if this is all true in any way, and if it is, start punishing yourself in the name of wanting to do the right thing; or 3) you and your fans must stand mute anytime anyone wants to assume that
what McClover and company said was and is the way things are done at Auburn University.