ROLL TIDE FOR MIKEY

•September 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

by TideGP (follow me on Twitter @TideGP)

EMail: checkyourgut@gmail.com

Football Saturdays are back in the South. Fans are making the transition from analyzing recruits, depth charts and early practices to actually seeing how their team performs on the field. In Alabama, fans have dusted off their game day swag and are making plans with family and friends for the trip to Bryant Denny Stadium for tailgating or planning parties at home to watch the game.

For one fan, things are a little different this Saturday. Little Mikey, who, through the effort of family and friends on Twitter, has touched the hearts and minds of the Bama Nation is fighting for his young life. Doctors say it’s not a fight he’s going to win.

When you talk with Mikey’s step-father, Terry, you can tell by the tone of his voice just how special Mikey is. MIkey’s five, and always wanted to play football. When Terry asked him if he was going to catch, run, or throw the football, Mikey’s response was always “Throw it!”. They would play in the yard and Mikey would line up, give his “Hut-HUT!” and run plays against imaginary defenders. When it wasn’t football, Mikey loved bowling so long as he didn’t have to use the bumpers the lanes set up for kids. Fiercely independent, Mikey wanted to do it on his own, without help. That’s why it was pretty obvious when things started to change for Mikey.

January this year, Mikey was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and underwent six weeks of radiation treatment in an effort to shrink the tumor. Initially the results were positive, Mikey had several good months including a chance to go to Disney thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Mikey watching Bama play Michigan

Last Saturday, Mikey, was watching the Crimson Tide season opener on TV, wearing his own #3 Alabama jersey and pajamas. He got to see his Alabama dominate Michigan for a half before he told his parents he was tired and was ready to go to bed. Terry noticed he was stumbling a bit on the way to his bedroom, but when he checked on him later, Mikey was already asleep, with a movie playing on his TV.

Sunday morning it became apparent things weren’t going well. Mikey was complaining of having a headache, having issues walking and Terry noticed he couldn’t lift his left arm. They took Mikey back to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to learn that the swelling around the tumor in Mikey’s brain was starting to affect his motor skills. Mikey received treatment to reduce the swelling, but his motor skills continued to decline to the point that he could no longer speak and his pain meds had to be increased. Mikey’s parents thought they were going to lose him that night.

The bright spot of the week came when some family and friends began spreading the word about Mikey on Facebook and Twitter. The phone number for the hospital was given out asking that any Alabama players that saw it give Mikey a call.

The Tide responded.

Mikey started receiving calls from players, past and present, and his parents could tell he could hear what was going on because he began to perk up. Calls from Barrett Jones, Carson Tinker, Prince Wimbley and his jersey’s namesake Vince Sunseri all seemed to give Mikey strength and boost his will to fight. Vinnie dedicated his season to Mikey. Coach Saban called and spoke to Mikey’s mom as she lay in bed next to him, and Terry said Coach Saban’s voice was so powerful they could all hear him in the room. Mikey definitely heard it too, though the only way they could tell was by his heart monitor as it jumped from 110 beats/minute to 130.

Mikey Up In Lights

The Bama Nation responded too. Bama fans and non-Bama fans alike spread the word to keep Mikey in thoughts and prayers. Others took it a step further sending gifts, making calls, and one Bama dad arranged to have a digital billboard in Huntsville give Mikey a special message up in lights — “Hey Mikey… Roll Tide!!!” along with the Twitter hashtag #RollTide4Mikey. He said, “I felt the need to help, and that is how I could”.

So today, while we are all watching Alabama battle Western Kentucky, take a moment to think about Mikey. Mikey might not be on the sidelines, but you know he’s there in spirit. All while he’s fighting his own battle from his hospital bed. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers, and say a ROLL TIDE for Mikey.

Update: 9/9/12 — More billboards around Tuscaloosa were dedicated to Mikey, several Tide players wrote #RollTide4Mikey on their armbands. Bama won the game 35-0, and Mikey is still hanging on. Please continue to give him your prayers.

T-Town

ROLL TIDE MIKEY!

Advertisements

Paterno and Penn St. Part II

•November 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

by TideGP (follow me on Twitter @TideGP)

EMail: checkyourgut@gmail.com

What a difference a day makes.

Just yesterday, I penned an opinion on the scandal at Penn State hoping that a reknown coaches reputation wouldn’t suffer because of the poor decision making of those around him.  I based this on the reputation of the man which has been fairly consistent throughout my college football experience, from athlete to student to fan.  Since then, the floodgates of information have opened, providing insight on an institution that obviously lost its way, and managed to conceal it well. 

Makes me feel like I drank the kool aid.

I WANTED to believe in the goodness, the wholesomeness of college football.  I WANTED to believe it was still possible for a man to have a successful lifelong collegiate coaching career and not be tainted.  I don’t know if I can believe that anymore.

While I still don’t believe Joe Paterno deserves the lion’s share of blame for the PSU scandal, I no longer think his knowledge of events could have been as isolated as I’d hoped.  Maybe Paterno didn’t allow himself to think  he was actively covering up a heinous act, but I can’t believe he didn’t realize he was covering up something.  Doesn’t really matter what he thought, because the events of the past 24 hours prove “you can’t get a little dirty”.

Penn State, their administration, trustees, faculty, board, EVERYONE failed on every level imaginable.  It’s obvious too much has been happening for too long, ALLOWED to go on too long for the sake of what?  The reputation of the institution.

Did other scandals occur behind the almighty Penn State facade?  Probably. But it was Jerry Sandusky that infected the system and killed any trace of nobility from the institution. 

I said yesterday that the leaders of PSU should focus on ways to heal.  I don’t think that’s a possibility any longer.  You can’t heal from something like this. Reports are emerging from areas outside the athletics dept. that knowledge of Sandusky’s perversions date back to the ’90s.  That’s a LONG time. That means a LOT of people knew.  And they all share the blame.

I’m not going to sit on a soap box, so I’ll finish with this:

Shame on you Penn State. 
Shame on you for not putting those boys needs and welfare first.
Shame on all of you that made us believe in you when you knew we shouldn’t.

PSU May Need Paterno Now More Than Ever

•November 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

by TideGP (follow me on Twitter @TideGP)

EMail: checkyourgut@gmail.com

 

In an extremely rare turn of events, scandal has reached the campus of Penn State.

Not your typical venue for a scandal in athletics, especially for this the type of scandal and the depths it may reach.  News is still developing, but for sake of the points I’ll be making in this article, and for those living under a veritable “sports news rock”:  Nittany Lions former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been charged with serial sexual child abuse over the course of 15 years.

Two prominent members of  PSU athletics have also been charged with perjury related to the case, legendary coach Joe Paterno has already testified to a grand jury, the trustees have pledged to make changes and the public is crying for crying for someone’s head on a platter. 

Who’s head?  Most likely, Paterno’s.

It’s totally understandable why folks want heads to roll–this isn’t a recruiting or money scandal.  This time children were hurt, trusts were broken, lives altered.  It’s an insidious scandal of the highest proportions and from the sounds of things, it went on a LONG time.  15 years.  A decade and a half while others either knew, suspected, or otherwise had knowledge of the occurences.  The system at Penn State failed. 

The knee jerk reaction is to clean house and get rid of anyone and everyone that was involved.  But take a step back folks.  These are serious allegations and in the real world, that means you better be damn sure you know the facts and act in a way that doesn’t compound the situation.  PSU has already failed at this once, now is when they need to show courage and, with an eye to the future, work towards repairing what was truly wrong instead of acting just to mollify the public outrage.

Like most of us, I don’t know Joe Paterno.  I do know his reputation, and its a long, sterlingly good reputation. Assuming his reputation is valid, and I have no reason to believe it isn’t, you have to believe that Paterno is being truthful about what he knew, or in this case, did not know.  Coach Paterno is arguably the last of the old school coaches, and among the very few active with enough clout to wave the morality flag, be adamanant about running a clean program, care about developing the young men that join the football program and it mean something.  He stands on a pedestal of virtue in the eyes of many which makes it all the more shocking that something like this occured under his watch… Or should it really be that surprising?

One might analogize that Paterno is the wise and venerable grandfather of college football. Let’s think about that analogy.  Hypothetically suppose there’s a family reunion, and word comes out that cousin Ellie recently had an abortion.  Would it be a shocker that the general family consensus be: “Don’t let grandpa hear about that!”?  Nope. It’s a natural instinct to want to protect those you care about from shame.  That said, is it really beyond comprehension that Paterno might well have been the victim of his own reputation, of his intolerance for ANYTHING improper and may very well have had the truth hidden from him by those around him?  I think not.  From what I’m hearing, I think that is the true breakdown here.

There were bad decisions made–LOTS of bad decisions.  Reports were passed up the administration chain but somehow stopped before getting into the hands of the proper authorities.  Officials lied.  I think the worst decision could have been attempting to “shield” Paterno from a scandal involving someone they felt Paterno respected. To protect them both, to shield Paterno from shame. Again,  IMHO, what they should have done was put this in Paterno’s lap and let him handle it from the start.  Paterno’s “old school” higher standard should have been used as a tool in this situation instead being treated as a prized relic that needs to be sheltered behind museum glass.

Moving forward PSU needs to recognize they need to repair the problem, not quick fix it; that Paterno may be the best qualified to repair the system, rather than becoming the iconic scapegoat for a systemic breakdown.  I daresay he’s owed that much after almost five decades of leading by example.  Now’s not the time to toss out the one good apple in the barrel of bad ones.  Mistakes happen, this one was huge, but we learn from our mistakes or we repeat them.  In order to heal, restore and revive its reputation, PSU now more than ever needs to embrace Paterno’s ideals, or risk falling into the same mediocrity of other programs where scandal regularly rears it ugly head.  

I pray that this doesn’t become a part of  Joe Paterno’s legacy:  a man that dared to do the right thing, live his life the right way, accomplished great things for himself and those under him.  I pray that he doesn’t became the last victim in a scandal because those who were in positions of  trust to help uphold those standards feared they could not live up to his expectations, feared reproach from the great man,  and chose the path of cowardice.

Again, this article assumes a lot that can only be confirmed by those that were there.  It is my personal hope that, from what I’ve come to believe of the man, Paterno was kept from the truth.  For the sake of the man, for the sake of Penn State, I hope that insight is shown by the PSU trustees with an eye to the future, and they proven  they’ve learned at least two values from Paterno:  loyalty and courage.

Note:  Since the time this article was written, Joe Paterno has announced his retirement at the end of the 2011 season.  His statement can be found here: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/F/FBC_PENN_STATE_PATERNO_STATEMENT_TEXT?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-11-09-10-48-18

 

What’s Going On With the SEC?

•August 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

by TideGP (follow me on Twitter @TideGP)

EMail: checkyourgut@gmail.com

The buzz this week has been about the potential expansion to the SEC. Names of schools are being tossed around the message boards and Twitter along with varied rationales why these schools are/may be courted by Commissioner Slive and the SEC.

SEC Media Day Photo from TigerRag.com

One has to wonder about the timing of this buzz. After all, with a month to go before the 2011 season begins, it’s unlikely anything will be finalized prior to the end of the season, in fact, you’d think the last thing most football programs would want is a major distraction right before their seasons begin. 

So, why now?

Maybe because this buzz is of a different variety of the buzz that has plagued the SEC all Spring and Summer—the buzz over what will be the final outcome of the SEC’s most recent BCS Champion, Auburn, and the fact that the vast majority of college football fans and analysts believe Auburn’s Heisman winning quarterback was bought and paid for.

Maybe this buzz comes out this week because of other rumors spreading across the message boards and Twitter—persistent rumors that new information regarding the Auburn scandal is due out very soon, naming specific names of bagmen and tying in other SEC schools. Announcing an expansion of the SEC would certainly go far towards diluting the negative buzz that’s hung over the conference like a cloud all year, ESPECIALLY if there is any credence to those negative rumors. Call it proactive damage control for what many are calling the NCAA’s first “super conference”. A conference that currently is despised as much as it is admired. It would be a step towards exhibiting the stance of “The SEC is MUCH more than one (or three) schools”.

What hasn’t been addressed is what the endgame would be of expanding the NCAA’s powerhouse conference even further. Most feel that the road to the BCS goes through the SEC, but the way things stand now, the best the SEC can hope for is to put its champion into the BCS Championship game. Currently, a program being courted to join the SEC would have to weigh the choice of playing a tough conference schedule for a shot at being SEC Champion, or rolling the dice and hope to have the strength of schedule and a winning record to face an SEC Champ in the BCS Championship. With the talent of the SEC programs, the SEC Championship game has already been called the “Real National Title Game” by many fans and media. The negative side is these talented programs beat themselves up playing one another during the regular season because of their conference scheduling, potentially paving the way for a less talented program in a smaller conference to have a shot at sneaking into the BCS race. Some argue the SEC’s size is already unruly and works against itself. Business calls this Economies of Scale.

So what’s the point of expansion talk? Is it the beginning of a bright future for the SEC or early damage control for a potentially VERY serious stain on its reputation? Only time will tell. These days college sports are played as much politically off the field as with the pigskin on the field. As fans, all we can hope for from the powers that be is there is some method to the madness.

Collegiate Athletics: Compliance 101

•July 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

by TideGP (follow me on Twitter @TideGP)

EMail: checkyourgut@gmail.com

If you’re a sports fan, you know the airwaves and the social networks have been abuzz over the latest rounds of disciplinary and enforcement actions and investigations handed down by the NCAA.  Ohio State, Georgia Tech, BOTH of last years BCS contenders: Auburn and Oregon, top the list of programs recently or currently under NCAA scrutiny.  While the spotlight is mainly on the stars of these schools dramas; the players involved, coaches and athletic directors, the understudy in the wings are the compliance departments. 

While the specific role a university’s Compliance Dept. holds within the Athletic Dept. varies from school to school, there are certain common elements.  In a nutshell, a  school’s  compliance department and compliance team is responsible for:

  • Understanding and keeping current with NCAA and the school’s member Conference rules and regulations
  • Educating the athletes, boosters and members of the athletic department on those rules
  • Implementing internal policies and procedures to adhere to those rules
  • Investigating potential rules violations
  • Interpreting regulations and the “spirit of the regulations” to determine if a rules violation has occurred
  • Reporting any concerns or rules violations to designated school officials
  • Acting as liaison with regulatory bodies day-to-day

You might compare compliance to a person’s immunity system.  Both are the first line of defense to a problem.  When they are operating well, functioning effectively and efficiently, everyone’s happy, healthy and content.  The athletic department can focus on the daily tasks of collegiate athletics; practice, recruiting, rosters, etc.  The individual can focus on the daily tasks of life; job, family, exercise,  hobbies, etc.  Just as the human body doesn’t perform well when it’s sick, athletic departments don’t operate as efficiently with the spectre of a regulatory investigation looming. 

The best compliance departments understand that their role is to operate quietly in the background and shield the athletic department, the athletes and the school  from problems.  It’s a thankless job.  No gives much thought to compliance until there’s an issue, and when there are compliance issues, all hell breaks loose.  Rosters may have to be revamped, players are distracted, performance suffers, recruiting may be affected.

That said, it’s very interesting to see how different schools approach the task of their internal compliance.  How large is their staff?  Who is chosen to be included in the staff?  What role, if any, do the athletic director and coaches have with compliance?  Do their policies lend themselves to transparency in how they deal with investigating potential rules violations, or does it seem that they sweep problems under the rug? Are they proactive or reactive? 

The answer to these questions is ultimately at the discretion of the school, its board of directors, athletic department and fans.  To be fair, there’s no one right way to implement compliance, but it’s obvious that while some schools seem able to find the balance between staying diligent and maintaining successful athletic programs, other schools seem to believe that a trade-off is necessary for their programs to succeed. 

Some schools have 20 people listed on their compliance staff, others have as few as four.  There’s no mandate on the minimum or maximum staff size, but it does make you wonder if there’s a correlation to staff size vs. how seriously an institution is towards adhering to collegiate athletic rules.

So what’s it going to take to whip schools with reputations of running shady athletic programs into shape?  I don’t know that there’s an answer. I guess it may depend on how “sick” they get the next time there’s a problem, and what prescription Dr. NCAA writes for a cure.

Did you hear the news about…?

•July 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

by TideGP (follow me on Twitter @TideGP)

EMail: checkyourgut@gmail.com

Information moves quickly these days.  Thanks to the internet and a myriad of portable devices, most of us have access to information anywhere and any time.  We are absolutely inundated with information.

While that’s great when the information is reliable, it’s a huge pain when the information isn’t.  So, we try to filter.  We look towards sources with credentials we think, we hope, are reliable. The problem with that is, with so much information available from so many sources, filtering through the crap isn’t always easy and sometimes we inadvertantly accept bad information.

Once, our news sources were limited.  We got our news from conventional, organized media.  Not these days.  These days we want breaking news, we want BUZZ.  Yes, we all know that buzz can be the virtual equivalent to “neighbors talking over the fence” gossip; that many rumors turn out to be just that– rumors.  Rumors that emerge, flourish and die.  The worst case scenario being when an unjustified rumor spreads quickly, and just as quickly, the rumor’s subject becomes a victim of unscrupulous hearsay.  The result is reputations are tarnished, sometimes irreparably.

Honest mistakes occur from time to time—we all know and expect that. But what if the mistakes aren’t always honest? 

Hold that thought.

True journalists are all too aware of the hazards of knowingly or unknowingly spreading false information and ethical journalists strive to prevent those types of occurrences, hence the term “Journalistic Integrity”.  But buzz usually doesn’t come from traditional journalists.  It’s easy for anyone with a computer and access to a blog or message board to use the internet as a medium to get “the word out”.  There are no checks and balances or editors to ensure facts are verified.  Some authors never have any intent to verify the information at all.  So, while the media of the “Information Age” has many benefits, it can easily be exploited for purposes other than the dissemination of accurate information, and we can easily become the unwitting tools of someone’s personal agenda.

Rumor mongering isn’t new.  What is relatively new is having a distribution vehicle that can reach a huge audience with great speed like the internet.  Ask anyone who’s had to defend themselves from false rumors and they’ll tell you it feels like they’ve been attacked. My good friend on Twitter, K1ngCrimson has coined a term for this; he calls it “Media Terrorism”, and it’s no joke.  While this can apply to any informational topic, because of its avid fan bases, sports figures and institutions are especially vulnerable. There are plenty of bona fide stories of corruption in sports these days, and we’ve all seen that it doesn’t take much for a sports rumor to grow legs and spread far and wide. 

It’s impossible to know with any certainty what motivates a rumor monger. Ego and character certainly play a role.  Some rumors start because the author is irresponsible or unscrupulous and eager for fame.  The originator or purveyor of the information becomes less interested in ascertaining how accurate their facts are than in how they can utilize the act of “breaking the story” as a springboard to acheive some type of recognition–they enjoy the spotlight while the rumor runs.    If the rumor turns out to be true, great; if not, they still achieve their goal of getting noticed, getting their name “out there”.

While some egos can be satisfied with a short lived claim to fame, other are not, so they take it a step further.  Driven by an ego run amuck, these individuals aren’t content to let a rumor run its course and let the facts prove or disprove the story; instead, they embellish, stoke and feed the rumor until it has a life of its own. To them, facts are irrelevant unless they feed the rumor.  They “spin” facts by offering a tilted perspective, sometimes in direct contradiction to other facts.  The story being active and talked about is what matters most, the more sensational it gets, the better.  Little to no heed is paid to the harm they might cause as they work hard to prolong their “fifteen minutes of fame”. 

Ego and fame aren’t the only motivators for a Media Terrorist. Worst of all are those whose character is so morally corrupt, they intentionally seek to damage a reputation.  This often entails either circulating a story with no merit, or initially citing facts, then twisting those facts into a sort of plausible innuendo for the sole purpose of discrediting the subject in question, again embellishing and stoking whenever necessary. These individuals use their notoriety as a weapon. While not adverse to the recognition they receive, the primary goal here is more than gaining notorieity. The goal is to further some other agenda, to feed some other reason, need or desire to hurt and disparage the subject of the rumor. In short, they have no qualms committing the crime known as libel.  While Libel is not a new concept, it certainly has found a cozy home on the internet because of the ease of publishing and lack of publishing protocols.  On blogs and message boards, the line between innuendo and opinions often blur and historically, libel is hard to defend against, lawsuits are hard to win when the burden of proof lies with the victim of the rumor having to show evidence of malicious intent. 

There will always be those that exploit freedom, in this case Freedom of Speech, and use it to pursue their own agendas.  What we can and must do as readers, as the audience, is minimize the negative effects as best we can.  The first step is simply being aware that these Media Terrorists, in various shapes and forms, exist.  Knowing that, no matter how much we may WANT to believe the buzz or a rumor, we have to be responsible and objective; examine the known facts and use our own sensibilities to draw rational conclusions, filter and sift the truth from the trash.  Lastly, we have to show support and promote those who show integrity, the individuals that DO take the time to get the facts straight, those who qualify their statements and opinions as they relay a story. 

Media Terrorists are out there, but we can minimize the damage they inflict by being an intelligent and conscientious readership.

All-IN! — The Family

•July 18, 2011 • 1 Comment

by TideGP (follow me on Twitter @TideGP)

EMail: checkyourgut@gmail.com

Auburn University Football certainly has an aura around it.  It’s not the glow from winning the 2010 National Championship, or the SEC Championship, or even having the most recent Heisman Trophy winner.  Not even the controversy that’s surrounded  those events.  Maybe it’s more like a haze… It’s not that easy to pinpoint, but you get the sense that something’s… off

For months we’ve heard rumours and allegations against the Auburn Football program.  While there have been no official charges from the NCAA, the response from the Auburn faithful has been… dumbfounding. 

For months we’ve also heard the same quotes again and again from a variety of Auburn fans, as if a policy is being repeated.  I’m not talking just about the outspoken fans whose rhetoric Paul Finabaum has made famous.  Watch video of Gene Chizik’s response to the HBO Real Sports show; Chizik gives a slight smile when he mentions “Auburn”. The kind of satisfied, self assured grin that makes you think he/they know something YOU don’t.  This attitude carried over to the story the New York Times broke where Chizik apparently openly challenged the head of NCAA Enforcement about the status of closing the book on their investigation into Auburn during a meeting that included all of the football and basketball coaches from the SEC.  Chizik pressed, to the point of sounding like he was bullying Roe Lach for the response he wanted, and subsequently received a reply he clearly didn’t expect to hear—“You’ll know when we’re finished… And we’re not finished”.

So just what is it they know or what is it they THINK they know? Just what is it that empowers them to have this attitude? While there’s no way to definitively answer that, we CAN piece together the evidence.

Auburn’s recent mantras of “We’re All-In” and “Family” exude an attitude of it’s “Us Against the World”, and, as close knit as their “family” has become, that may be an accurate statement.

This feels like it has gone way beyond school pride, even for an SEC school.  Their attitude, their tactics of Deny, Deflect, Distract and repeating the party line incessantly are downright… Cult-Like.

A Cult?!?

Isn’t that just a bit over the top?

Well, let’s look at this. Here are some of the traits typically associated with cults that the Auburn Family is also exhibiting:

  • A fervent, almost fanatical adherence to a shared belief.
  • A belief that “we are good” and if you’re not one of us, “you are BAD”.
  • Complete Denial–Our leaders are GOOD, no matter what evidence you show to the contrary.
  • Our cause is noble, therefore the rules set by outsiders do not apply to us.
  • We are entitled, we are CHOSEN, GOD is with us.
  • If you challenge our cause, you are OUT of the Family.
  • Deflect–We will attack our detractors.
  • Let us show you how much GOOD we do.

Et cetera.

"We Are Family! We Are ALL-IN!"

They’re definitely drinking the Kool Aid down on the Plains these days.  College Football fans from other conferences are often befuddled at how seriously their SEC counterparts react.  While Alabama fans familiar to the rivalry are somewhat used to the Auburn rhetoric when bad news comes down on the Plains, the rest of the nation seems stunned by Auburn’s response to just about every issue–Deny, Deflect, Distract. That’s never been more true than in the early months of 2011 with the rash of allegations falling down on the Tigers—allegations that all seem to have real teeth. Teeth that are still biting.

But will you get an Auburn fan to even admit they’re worried?  Chances are you won’t.

Talk to an Auburn fan and you’ll hear something completely different. Radically different. Disturbingly different.  Sure, schools take on mottos and mantras all the time.  Last year’s “All-In” and “Family” could be chalked up to just that, mottos, were it not for the attitude that came along with it. Mid-way through the 2010 season when the Cam Newton story came to light the attitude exuded by the Auburn faithful was pure disbelief, sprinkled with scattered claims of sabotage by Bama, and Miss St. The consensus attitude among AU fans was and seemingly still is, utter, total faith in their program, no matter what evidence came to light.  In fact, one got the sense and still gets the sense, that opinions outside of the “family” don’t matter to the AU faithful at all. 

Sound familiar? Starting to feel a bit uneasy? Think about what other organizations besides cults call themselves “family”.

Organized Crime.

You get the point.  Listen to an Auburn fan talk about any of these allegations and they’ll shift the conversation to Alabama.  Listen to them long enough, you’ll hear their paranoia. Couple that with observing some of the “official” Auburn statements and it becomes apparent that Auburn doesn’t feel the rules of “outsiders” apply to them.  “We are AUBURN, We are FAMILY!

In the SEC, most fans admit to being biased, and one fanbase will always poke fun at another when there’s a hint of trouble. However, even the most casual observer can see there’s something rotten in the Auburn program.  Money handshakes exposed on national media by HBO Real Sports. Facebook pages of players pictured with STACKS of cash in their mouths.  Home invasions by players.  AU’s Athletic Dept. being played like a fiddle by Cecil Newton in the midst of the investigation of whether he solicited money for his son.  A coach that doesn’t seem to understand protocol in making inquiries to the ENFORCEMENT division of it’s governing body.

How does the Auburn family react? 

I find your lack of faith... DISTURBING!

Deny: HBO didn’t interview players who DIDN’T take money.  The four home invaders were kicked off the team.  Cam knew NOTHING of his father’s actions.  The NCAA isn’t investigating. 

Deflect/Distract:  A BAMA fan poisoned Toomers Oaks!  Brent Calloway was hijacked by a BAMA booster!  Announce a Cam Newton statue!

Yes, there’s a problem on the Plains, and it may be MUCH more deeply seeded than we realized.