I sat in a coffee shop this morning from the early hours, getting some work done, preparing for the day, telling myself I would worry about the Sports Illustrated story when it dropped.
Then at 7:40 AM I got on SI.com and hit refresh approximately 1,033,000 times in the next 22 minutes.[1. 8:02 is not 8:00, SI!] Then I froze for the next three hours. I went on with BBJ and said some stuff (who knows what it was?) and just sat there staring at Twitter and all the comments and tweets and everything rolling in.
Where do you even start to try and get your arms around this?
Then I realized that this is day one and we have four more of these and I’m going to need an intravenous coffee IV the way Zac Robinson needed a wide receiver not named Dez back in 2009.
Let’s jump in..
1. First things first: “[former player] is a terrible person therefore what [former player] said could not have happened” does not employ an ounce of logic. Do former players who got kicked off the team have a motive for talking? Sure, but that doesn’t make what happened (or didn’t happen) more or less true. Whatever happened, happened and stuff like the tweet below doesn’t change facts.
Let it be known, girtman had pornos, playing on a loop in his suburban at all times. This is no lie, ask anyone who knew him in college
— Ben Buie (@Blackbellybuie) September 10, 2013
2. All of that being said, the two clear-cut corners we have right now are pretty fascinating. You have the Brad Girtman “I’m all in on the fact that this happened” camp and the Josh Fields “there is no way in HELL this ever happened” camp. Both could be true, of course, because not everybody knows everything but the heavy-handedness with which former players responded in defense of the program says quite a bit.
Guys who had no real motive to respond — Cooper Bassett, Andre Sexton, etc. — just torched the article and gained nothing from what they said. I wasn’t there (obviously) and so I don’t know what happened but it feels like that should mean something in terms of there being a full-blown system of this happening in place.
3. I’ll lay out the two things OSU should be worried out in No. 3 and No. 4. First, are there any boosters or coaches who will confirm any of the allegations? Because right now it’s “he said, he said” but if it becomes “he said, he also said” then that’s really bad.
Also, was there a paper trail? Brad Girtman says Joe DeForest gave him a $5,000 debit card which means there should be some kind of evidence somewhere. I would think SI has it or they wouldn’t include that detail in the story.
4. My biggest question thus far — and I don’t feel like this was really answered by Part I — is “was this systematic and if so, did coaches know about it and condone it?” I feel like that’s the information the NCAA will be after and unless there’s a paper trail I’m not sure they’ll ever get it.
5. I have a funny feeling Tatum Bell’s Twitter feed will not be used when the NCAA comes to OSU and says “OK, what’s your defense?”
6. Let’s talk about Thayer, shall we? I don’t know if you heard Jason Whitlock on the Sports Animal today but he absolutely torched Thayer on the air. Called him a hack, an OU homer, and wondered aloud if he could spell “cat.” Audio here.
That’s a big thing SI has going against it — you know, given his history of ridiculous and biased behavior towards Oklahoma State. I’m not saying Thayer and Brad Girtman hang out on the weekends or anything but it doesn’t feel like that’s a massive leap. The problem with this, of course, is I’m not totally sure whether or not George Dohrmann (or Jon Wertheim, for that matter) would stick his name on it if he wasn’t 100% on the facts. That part lingers..
7. One of my followers on Twitter (Jeff Enkelman) put what he believes to be SI’s motive pretty succinctly. He said SI is “kind of sacrificing OSU at the NCAA alter to try and jump start change.” It really did feel like SI was using OSU as a microcosm for the culture of the NCAA as a whole. “These dudes are poor and starving which is why they received money which is why you need to change, NCAA!”
The motive for SI in this is that if (when?) it buries the NCAA it suddenly has the attention of what is currently a fractured online and print audience. There’s a crap load of people who would pledge allegiance to the entity that finally puts a dagger into the NCAA and SI knows that.
8. I’ve seen a lot on the four-year statute of limitations limiting the NCAA in how it can punish Oklahoma State. Again, this can be removed by the NCAA if it can prove a pattern of willful violations. I’m not saying that’s just the case, just a friendly reminder.
9. Two math questions. One, who was doing the calculations on QB hurries, sacks, etc. and then dividing up the money appropriately? Was it a grad assistant? If so, that would be a heck of a podcast! Two, where was all this money kept and how much was there? Was Huell prominently involved? It feels like Huell has to have been prominently involved.
10. After just five hours of madness I think I’ve changed my mind about 239 times on this.
Admittedly I think there are way too many details for all of this to be false. Hell, I’m not sure Brad Girtman is even smart enough to fabricate half the stuff he says in the piece so at least some of it probably has to be true. But I also think OSU is in a decent position to defend a lot of this — or so it seems based on reaction. I think Franny said it even better than I can (and I’ll leave you with this for now):
I am keeping an open mind on this SI/Oklahoma State stuff but the question I have: Is every single allegation in Part I an absolute lie?
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) September 10, 2013