John Carvalho, an associate professor of journalism at Auburn, is both a scholar of the sportswriting trade and a denizen of "SEC Country."
Who better to critique the integrity of ESPN's most recent Johnny Manziel report?
That's exactly what Carvalho did in a well-reasoned article for AL.com Wednesday afternoon, pointing out some of the journalistic questions raised by Joe Schad's story—the one where he alleges Manziel might have accepted payment for autographs from a broker.
The Auburn professor is particularly wary of Schad's source, the autograph broker at the heart of the piece, calling his credibility into question on numerous occasions.
For one thing, as Carvalho writes:
I do not know much about autograph brokers, but they don't seem to rate high on the respect scale. They seem to prey on the naivete of both young athletes and sports fans.
Perhaps a paragraph of discussion in the article, along with a link to a sidebar on these brokers, would enlighten the audience as to ESPN's awareness of whom they are dealing with.
Carvalho also questions the broker's decision to stay anonymous and attempt to shop a supposedly incriminating video, maintaining that those things destroy his credibility.
From an ethical perspective, how can the broker be trusted as the linchpin witness for this story—a story with, potentially, season-altering consequences? And how can the NCAA be expected to levy a punishment (on a player who brings in huge ratings and money, no less) when the report in question is so unreliable?
Carvalho's piece might not make his students at Auburn too happy. He's ostensibly arguing that this report shouldn't be enough to suspend Manziel, and the Tigers would love for that to not be the case when they play Texas A&M on Oct. 19.
Then again, though, they definitely like the thought of Manziel in uniform for the Alabama game.
Here's another link to Carvalho's piece for those who missed it. Enjoy!