The [unnamed source] Who Cried Wolf
Pack it up, folks. It’s time to give in. We had a good run but the jig is up. Auburn football is doomed. If only I had a nickel for every time I have heard that in the previous three years. Auburn University Athletics (football specifically) has once again found itself facing sensationalized accusations. I guess you could say I’m surprised, but I’d be lying if I told you I was not expecting something. Auburn has become an easy target for journalists to hitch their wagons to with ambiguous sources and rampant speculation. It is an unfortunate trend that does not appear to be going away anytime soon.
The latest piece of
professional sports journalism hidden agenda driven piece of propaganda I speak of comes from journalist (and Auburn alumni) Selena Roberts. Earlier this week she published this piece and in it, claimed instances of academic fraud and payments to football players attending Auburn University. There is also speculation that former head coach, Gene Chizik, had influence on local law enforcement authorities and used that influence to cast former safety Mike McNeil as the “scapegoat” for the armed robbery he currently faces charges from. Her story along with its claims were almost immediately disputed by the very sources she cited in it, though she reasserted its validity in a follow-up Q&A with AL.com’s Brandon Marcello. This isn’t the first time Roberts has exercised her reckless “creative freedoms” in a headline grabbing story and got called out for it. Yet, given her history of questionable reporting, she has still been able to garner (to some degree) genuine recognition regarding her allegations against Auburn University and its football program.
Mark Bradley, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, had this to say regarding the fresh allegations laid out by Selena Roberts. I have to wonder if he even considered who he was aligning himself with by essentially perpetuating the Roberts piece and not offering much clarity to the situation. In fact, he actually added a lot of completely unrelated names and incidents from Auburn’s past that are sure to creep into the overall “mythology” of all things Auburn University corruption in 2013. Bradley was not alone, however, fools rarely are.
ESPN revealed in an article published late yesterday evening that their print publication ESPN The Magazine had conducted a six month investigation of an “epidemic of synthetic marijuana use” on Auburn’s 2010 National Championship team. I’m not defending users of synthetic marijuana or the specific players identified by ESPN, but I see no justifiable reason why a major news outlet should or would launch an investigation on this scale simply to outline and identify the usage frequency of a completely LEGAL substance. There have been schools where this was a problem AFTER synthetic marijuana was banned and became a controlled substance. I simply do not see the sound reasoning behind going back in time two full years to when it was a legal substance and finding out how many Auburn football players were using it. Well, no reason other than to stir the pot and continue the now tired and hopelessly overused ‘Auburn-is-going-down-doomsday-ahead-on-the-plains’ talk.
The article is titled, “More Potential Problems for Auburn.” Problems in what way? Problems with news outlets not being creative enough or possessing the necessary incentive to move on to more relative and pressing issues within their targeted fields of coverage? Problems with any baseless and obscure published piece remotely painting Auburn athletics in a negative light being circulated and perpetuated without there ever being any subjectivity or ridicule applied to it? What kind of problems does ESPN mean I wonder? And what previous problems are these being combined with to allow ESPN to declare them “more (potential) problems?” Because I just listed the only two problems Auburn has at the moment and has had for the last three years. In response to the recent published pieces both Jay Jacobs (Athletic Director) and former head football coach Gene Chizik have issued statements disputing all claims made of late.
Here is the initial statements from Jay Jacobs and former head coach Gene Chizik regarding the Selena Roberts piece.
Here is Jacobs’ statement addressing the content of the ESPN article.
The biggest crime in the entire stretch of allegations, going back to the beginning of the Cam saga, is that Auburn University as a whole has had part of its sacredness falsely proven a sham to the outside world and its genuineness mocked. Auburn football is a huge aspect of the university, but Auburn is so much more than a football team. One has to wonder what soft spot the next attack on Auburn’s reputation will target. Is anything truly off-limits anymore? Focusing solely on football, some writers and analysts speak of past coaches and their transgressions (some proven, some merely rumored) with reckless abandon that blurs the border of irresponsibility and a premeditated attack. In just the previous five years, Auburn football fans have endured:
- The collapse of 2008.
- The 2010 season’s validity being questioned before it was even completed.
- The fallout from the Cam-saga.
- The fallout from the armed robbery incident carried out by AU football players.
- The beautiful Toomer’s Oaks were poisoned (and killed) by a fan of our in-state rival. All over a football game.
- Repeated accusations that rarely offered any hint of substantial proof or even substance.
- The second collapse of the football program in less than half of a decade.
All of that, and Auburn is still the bad guy, the cheater, the big bad filthy corrupt institution that represents all that is wrong with college football. Add to that the fact that Auburn has faced inquiry after inquiry into possible wrongdoings and come through them all unscathed. It doesn’t matter. In the eyes of public perception, we go from being dirty cheaters to dirty cheaters who are masters at not getting caught. The public doesn’t need concrete proof anyway, when they can connect the dots however they like in their minds. Sources are often ambiguous and remain unnamed presumably forever. Auburn can’t win a fight against someone or some thing that doesn’t exist.