Wrapping up Day 1 of the SI allegations

Written by Kyle Porter
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Photo Attribution: USATSI

I feel like I just sat at my computer for 14 hours today and this ephemeral fist kept launching itself through my computer screen and delivering blows to my face and body all day.

I honestly felt physically ill for most of the day — not because of the allegations or anything like that, just because of how big and far-reaching and crazy this whole thing is. And probably a little because I’m not sure if Dallas, Texas has enough coffee to get me through the next week.

A few thoughts on what was one of the longest days of my blogging life…

1. I’ve tried really, really hard to stay objective on this and fair to all parties involved but if I’m scoring this thing, it feels like OSU took Round 1. Basically Sports Illustrated wrote a bunch of stuff today that former player said was truth and a lot MORE former players said was bunk. The problem was that SI didn’t show me anything I didn’t already think was going to go down.

Like, if you would have told me on Monday night “Kyle, go write the script for what you think will be in the SI piece” I would have come up with something very similar to what George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans produced. And, just like SI, I wouldn’t have shown any evidence.

The whole “we have everything on tape” thing is fine and I believe it 100%. Sports Illustrated would be laughed out of journalism if it didn’t (sorry, Tatum) but you’re going to have to come at me with a lot more girth than what you did today.

I’m hesitant to call it hatchet-y because I’m way too close to all of this but the fact that so many guys who were legit dudes (Russell Okung, Andre Sexton, etc.) said “SI never contacted me about this story” makes it feel a little hatchet-y. It feels like there are two sides to it and SI not only didn’t tell the other one but had no interest in doing so.

2. That being said, I do believe at least a little of what was reported is true. It can’t all not be true. Like I said earlier today, there’s no way Brad Girtman is smart enough to make all of this up with the level of detail he (and others provided). Samantha Vicent said this on our podcast earlier today and I totally buy into it: The truth is likely somewhere in the middle.

3. My Andre Sexton podcast, man, I can’t tell you enough times to go listen to that thing. My dad isn’t one for hyperbole but he called me tonight and was like “that dude is the best OSU athlete I’ve heard speak!” I told Nolan that and he said “wow, do you think your dad is taking shots at you??” All seriousness though, Sexton was fantastic.

4. I seriously can’t remember two sides (SI and OSU + former players) stockpiling their sides more quickly or vociferously than what happened today.

You had reasonable, smart former Oklahoma State football players losing their minds over the fact that anybody would claim this happened. And on the other side you had this:

OSU is trying so hard to stay out in front of it (which, not sure making a site quoting what Jason Whitlock thinks of Thayer Evans is your best move from a litigious perspective, but whatever) and I really feel like Mike Holder is all in on whatever eventually comes of this.

It’s gonna end badly for somebody.

5. I also love media folks taking dead aim at SI. This whole thing is just so crazy.

6. It feels like this story by News9 is actually a better indication of what happened. Again, I’ll reserve judgement until SI shoves the evidence in front of my face or says it doesn’t have any but if I’m just making predictions based on everything I’ve read and heard so far, I think that feels like a more reasonable version of what actually happened.

7. This tweet crushed me:

8. This one did, too:

9. What am I supposed to do with this paragraph?

Often lost in the discussion about whether college football players should receive more than room, board and a scholarship is that some already are compensated, in violation of NCAA rules.

I feel like SI is talking to me like I’m a child. I don’t even know why that sentence is in there.[1. Disclaimer: I’m a HUGE SI fan. SI was the first publication I read as a kid and this expose doesn’t mean I’m going to stop subscribing.]

10. My dad brought up a good point (need to get him on a podcast at some point, btw) about how this plays nationally. The problem, if you’re OSU, is that now the outcome means nothing. You knocked Week 1 of the NFL off the cover of SI and that’s the only thing people are going to remember. The damage has been done for the most part already from a national perception, now you’re just trying to keep the NCAA at bay at this point.

11. The odds that Thayer Evans didn’t write this paragraph are not high (and probably 0%):

In 2006 an internal investigation at Oklahoma revealed that Sooners quarterback Rhett Bomar and offensive lineman J.D. Quinn worked a few hours a week at a car dealership but filed padded time sheets and collected thousands of dollars in unearned income. The players were dismissed from the team in a scandal that rocked Norman. But the Sooners’ violations paled next to the bogus jobs 83 miles away, in Stillwater.

12. This might not matter but it kind of does: Why have no legit stars come forward? Actually, why has there only been one person at all that has come forward and said “yeah, I said that to SI?” You think the Oklahoman and Tulsa World haven’t been calling people all day? SI attaching a star to this story would give a whole lot more weight to it and would, you know, actually make sense given that people were taking cash for performance.

13. Speaking of people coming forward — and Sexton addressed this in the podcast — who were the boosters allegedly in the locker rooms and why were they there? Sexton said it was absurd to think that anybody who shouldn’t have been in there would have been in there and wondered aloud of there was “a magic elevator” that players went to to meet with these boosters. I was dying.

14. Wednesday is the 12th anniversary of 9/11 so, yeah, perspective.

  • seandooley

    That’s the thing about a witch-hunt, the witch usually dies regardless of guilt. The damage has been done.

  • OkSt4Life

    Well said, my only fear is that the academics aspect of this fiasco could possibly (and probably will) deal the most long-term damage to the program.

  • ck1911

    How is it that the bench warmers were talking about how they got paid, but in the same thread, once the good players stopped performing, the cash dried up. Which is it?

  • Tayvl

    I think people are assuming a bit too much when they say that “SOMETHING must’ve happened!” So far, nothing’s been corroborated, so why so eager to assume the worst? I’m right where I was Monday, waiting for some evidence…

    • seandooley

      Probably because you can go to any big program, and SOMETHING happens. You can’t control everything.

      Ultimately, condoning and taking willful action against the rules laid out by the NCAA, especially over a 12 year period as SI suggests, is what I need to see evidence supporting. There are a lot of holes in their story.

      • Tayvl

        Yeah, but “something” doesn’t always include cash payments, falsified grades, and sexual favors. Boosters getting out of hand doesn’t always mean cash changing hands in the locker room. “Where there’s smoke there’s fire” is not a profound, or even accurate, comment. The evidence so far indicates that SI made mistakes, not OSU. That can very well change with further evidence, of course.

  • adswack

    Well for me I cancelled my subscription to Sports Illustrated. Why, I remember back in the 70s when we had a fan who traded seats to OSU with a Friend who had OU tickets and they went to the one who was in state when the other was out of town. Then one week end the OU friend had to work and it was Nebraska and his son wanted to go to the game since his dad could not go. He was a junior in High school. Yeh OSU guy said it alright if it alright with you dad and with approval took the young man to the game. During NCAA investigation into other things the OSU guy gets contacted about providing illegal inducements and transportation to OSU for a Illegal visit. NCAA violations. He found out the young man’s mother had turned him in as she was a strong OU supporter and felt the OSU program was hurting OU. The OSU fan was threatened if he did not voluntarily surrender his tickets and not attend any athletic events for 2 years there would be further sanctions against OSU. Young man played one year of football at a junior collage as a walk on. No intent to violate NCAA rules, but it could have been piled on actual violations so he signed the agreement. BAD move in my opinion looking back at it. Should have contacted news media and fought the NCAA’s blackmail.

    Now we will have some who say well we didn’g do anything, but it will only get worse if we dont submit to sanctions. We have already taken a hit to our reputation as a school. We will get little support from journelists who vote in one pole resulting in lower ranking. Probably lower level bowl game than otherwise so we must fight this and try to punish the guilty who slander our school.

  • duke

    your disclaimer explains so much about your posts since the article came out

  • OSU-Bill

    After hearing the Gotlieb interview I’m starting to feel that the 5-part series should have been done in reverse–at least to make what I’m starting to think is the real/underlying point of this exposé. It was the comment near the end when Doug asked the SI reporter what we can expect in the next installments. Part of his response really emphasized how OSU treated players with drug problems. Could it be that the whole story, when recast, is from the perspective of the underprivileged player, i.e., the player from a very underprivileged background who only plays a bit roll, but is vaulted into this world awash with money, women, and academic expectations, which they are simply incapable of handling. Unlike the Dez Bryant’s of the world, who will have tons of money to help make their way, or the Andre Sextons, who are smart and articulate and will be successful post-college, the players featured are grist for the mill. This might explain the incongruity between the statements of those players quoted and the statements of those players on twitter (and elsewhere) contradicting. Anyway, just a thought.

  • Jason

    Based on what Fath’ said to News9, I have a theory as to what actually happened.

    First, I’m willing to believe that there were questionable activities during the Les Miles era. Fath’s story sounds plausible, and the fact that he’s standing by it lends it more credibility than any of the other accusations.

    Second, as has been mentioned by others, there are no secrets in the locker room. This means that any players who played under Miles probably knew about these activities. This overlaps to any player who played with a player who played under Miles probably heard rumors.

    Third, any program makes enemies. Gundy made more than a few when he came in and cleaned house. While people like Girtman may not have the wherewithal to fabricate these accusations out of whole cloth, I’m certainly willing to believe that they were capable of taking a story they heard, repeating it as if it were factually correct, and exaggerating the hell out of it. That bit about “unknown boosters walking through the locker room handing out envelopes” in the lead paragraph strikes me as exactly this: Mickens probably heard stories about envelopes, and when SI came calling he wasn’t above a little embellishment. It’s also plausible (but purely speculation on my part) that jealousy played a role here; the fact that most of those mentioned as sources were marginal players means that it’s unlikely any of them received substantial sums in a “pay-to-play” scheme, but might have become jealous of stories they heard involving other players getting payed.

    Fourth, the fact that most of these accusation stop around 2007 corroborates with my speculation regarding the shelf-life of rumors. Assuming that things were confined to Miles’ tenure, by 2008 there would have been few players in the locker room who had second hand experience of this, and none with first hand experience.

    Fifth, I don’t know what to think about Joe DeForest.