I have heard in the past of one conspiracy theory that used to humor me quite a bit. This conspiracy states that somewhere in the halls of the media (NY Times, HBO, CBS, allegedly), lurked these bitter pirate executives and/or attorneys that were University of Alabama alumnus that created this “hedge of protection” around the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa from the NCAA as well as the media (a.k.a. “NCAA Enforcement Division”).
This skull and bones conspiracy simultaneously used its waning influence to slap little brother Auburn University with any disparaging scrap of rumor milled gossip, hear-say or innuendo it could find. But you know how conspiracy theorists can get all excited, and believe what THEY believe is what YOU should believe.
Come on guys, seriously. You actually believe this could be the case? A whole conspiracy contrived just to hold little brother down? That would take some serious insecurity to create the motive for that ploy.
Well, I have come around in my opinion and now believe it to be true.
Last night I watched the HBO special with Bryant Gumble called “The State of College Football in America.” I have never seen such a one-sided piece of tabloid journalism so blatantly offered up as legitimate investigative reporting in all my life.
Aside from the lengthy discussion of paying college athletes, which I support, this episode was a veiled and potentially slanderous attack on Auburn. Without getting into too many details on the “interviews” of former Auburn football players, take a big step back and observe the big picture as it relates to this conspiracy.
HBO interviews one former football player from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Tyrone Prothro, who played for UAT from 2003-2005 before being removed from the football roster by now Head Coach Nick Saban on Aug. 3rd, 2007 for a career-ending injury received nearly two years before.
“Not one dime,” Prothro responded when asked whether he was ever paid anything at UAT. “I didn’t get a thing.” This despite Tyrone being a highly sought-after high school player from Heflin, Alabama as well as being named Second Team All SEC as a return specialist before the 2005 season.
No money, no favors, no special grades or head-nods, nothing paid to his high school coach and no steaks. Wow, now that is impressive.
What’s the inference here? The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa runs a clean, upstanding program. We play by the rules in T-Town! Here is one of our best players. See how nice and righteous we are?
Are they still serving the Kool-Aid out by the Bear Bryant statue? This was exactly the same time frame that the NCAA reported:
UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA, TUSCALOOSA - PUBLIC INFRACTIONS REPORT
JUNE 11, 2009 - B. FINDINGS OF VIOLATIONS OF NCAA LEGISLATION.
1. IMPERMISSIBLE BENEFITS. [NCAA Bylaws 15.2.3 and 18.104.22.168 (Note:
Bylaw citation is to the 2008-09 NCAA Division I Manual.)]
Beginning in at least the 2005-06 academic year and continuing through the fall
of 2007, the institution's textbook distribution system allowed approximately 200
student-athletes to obtain impermissible textbooks and supplies, with a total retail
value of approximately $40,000. Approximately $21,950 of this total was
obtained by student-athletes identified by the institution as "intentional wrong
The committee noted that the four highest amounts ($3,947.19, $3,344.10,
$3,061.38 and $2,714.62) were obtained by football student-athletes.
Strange there was no mention of this on the HBO Special Edition: The State of College Sports in America. I could have sworn Tuscaloosa was in America. Huh?!
Then the show goes on to interview four former Auburn University players Stanley McClover, Troy Reddick, Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray.
These four players alleged they received money handshakes during recruiting at various nationally prominent football schools (LSU, U of F, Texas, Ohio State), book bags and envelopes full of money throughout their Auburn careers.
Now a true “investigative reporting” show would have aired the recent comments of these players teammates:
“There’s just a lot of guys that have dealt with things as far as how their career went, and a lot of that is reflected in how they felt they got treated by Auburn,” T.J. Jackson, a former teammate of McClover and Reddick, told the Opelika-Auburn News on Tuesday night. “Not being ugly to those guys, but if you were going to pay some people, there were probably a lot of people (on those teams) that should have been paid before those guys.”
Lee Ziemba, who started more than 50 games with the Tigers from 2007-2010, blasted the “bum” players via Twitter Tuesday as well. While his message was somewhat softened yesterday, he still questioned both the accusers and their accusations.
“These guys obviously have some kind of beef with Auburn,” Ziemba told the Opelika-Auburn News on Wednesday. “I played here four years, was recruited by the same folks they were and never saw a dime out of any of it.
“I played in the same games, walked out of the same locker room and never got one of those ‘money handshakes.’ If any of that had been going on, I would have known about it.”
There were similar comments from Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams and Jason Campbell who all played during this same time period. All legitimate NFL players who would have nothing to lose by disclosing the truth, all deny this was happening.
Why didn't HBO mention Troy Reddick applied for coaching job at Auburn last year and did not get the job? Why didn’t HBO put the interview on with McClover's high school coach or all the Auburn players that said these guys are liars and that they did not receive anything. Why did HBO pick the four players that had major axes to grind? How did Chaz Ramsey get $1000 a ticket for the Iron Bowl when you could get them everywhere for $175 that year? Absolute terrible one-sided reporting. HBO Sports is now the TMZ of sports.
Where are the stories about all the student athletes who DO benefit from college sports? There are 99 members of a football team, how many of them were "screwed" by the system? How many of them took advantage of their education and are now in well-paying jobs?
How can you place the blame on the universities in situations where athletes are signing autographs and shaking hands and get handed money and accept it? Isn't that just the kids' fault? Should he have paid attention when his coaches told him repeatedly not to accept money from anyone?
Football student athletes get MUCH more than their tuition paid for. They get free clothing, free school supplies, free room and board, free all-you-can-eat meals, free tutoring, pretty much free everything AND they are treated like kings by their peers... what more do you want?! GROW UP AND APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN.
The lasting implication from this piece of trash reporting by HBO only adds to the legitimacy of the conspiracy theorist claims of one-sided attacks, media favoritism and outright manipulation against Auburn.
Alabama: Good versus Auburn: Bad.
Give me a frickin’ break!