Published April 11, 2011 - 12:21pm
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Things you can count on: death, taxes, and bad blood between Auburn fans and Alabama fans. Hundreds of years ago, Benjamin Franklin told us about those first two. But death can be delayed thanks to medicine, and taxes can be avoided due to loopholes. But that third one – there seems to be no getting around it. And with some of the things that have happened over the past few months, that bad blood looks to be getting worse and worse.
First, it was a few poisoned trees at Auburn’s hallowed ground, Toomer’s Corner. Then, it was an arrest of Harvey Almorn Updyke, the guy who ruined his life by taking up for his team and showing those trees what was up. Later, it was the radio host, Scott Moore, who tried to again stir up the Cam Newton pay-for-play saga. He lost his job over that one.
And now we have Auburn writer Jeffery Lee making some big accusations against Alabama Signee Brent Calloway. You probably remember the roller coaster of a recruitment that followed Brent Calloway. He was a long-time commitment to the Tide, but later switched his commitment to the Tigers. At that point, many were already talking about how his change of plans was nothing more than a glorified PR stunt. And, almost as if it had been planned, Calloway later recommitted to the Tide and eventually signed with them in February. Lee, a guy who has a history of being a little over-the-top (A few months back, he released some personal information about one of the subscribers of his Rivals.com website, Auburnsports.com. Yes, he really did.), was on an Alabama radio show this week when he made some pretty big claims against Alabama concerning their recruitment of Calloway. Here’s a summarized list of his claims from NBCsports.com:
* A supporter of Alabama took Calloway to Tuscaloosa multiple times including the weekend prior to national signing day.
* The supporter allegedly then drove Calloway out of state and kept him there until he returned to his hometown of Russellville, Alabama on signing day.
* Before Calloway’s final trip to Tuscaloosa pre-signing day, the Bama supporter allegedly made cash payments to Harland “Peaches” Winston who is Calloway’s adoptive father.
* Winston supposedly received $2,500 from the Bama fan on at least one occasion.
* Supposedly, Winston also received aid in catching up on his home mortgage.
* The fan also allegedly provided Calloway with a new car that the player drove to school. Supposedly enough questions were asked about the car that it was returned on the same day.
* Allegedly, the car was purchased by the Bama supporter from a dealership in Muscle Shoals owned by yet another Alabama supporter.
* Supposedly, the supporter told Calloway that he would receive $1,200 per month while playing at Alabama.
Pretty serious stuff, right? If any of those points are true, then Alabama could be facing some real problems. But if history is any indicator of what’s going to happen in the future, nothing will ultimately come from those allegations – at least nothing will come quickly. For a year, we’ve heard about the Cam Newton allegations. But when pressed to present the information he supposedly has about the situation, Scott Moore didn’t and lost his job as a result. And now the guy who is bringing up these allegations about Brent Calloway has a reputation as an Auburn homer who will do anything to throw dirt at Alabama. On the surface, he just doesn’t seem to be an objective outsider, so his allegations might be short-lived.
And now, even as I’m in the middle of writing this article, I’m online, reading about how Calloway’s adoptive father paid off his mortgage – yes, the mortgage that Lee said he needed help to pay – 15 years ago and how Calloway’s high school principle is saying that Calloway never drove the alleged new car to school. So not even a full day after Lee hit the airways with his accusations, they are apparently starting to crumble under the weight of seemingly legitimate evidence (I haven’t seen the documents, of course, but you can’t really argue with a mortgage that’s been paid off for 15 years). And I’m sure that 5 minutes after this article hits the site, more of these allegations will either be confirmed or disproven. At this point, though, Lee, with his already sketchy background as a journalist, isn’t doing himself any favors.
He’s not doing the SEC any favors, either. Already, it’s a conference seen by outsiders as a dirty, cheating conference with fans that are a little too crazy about their teams. And no matter how this situation turns out, that persona is going to be perpetuated.
If the allegations are true: Alabama, due to a booster connected to the athletic department, has cheated. They’ve effectively bought a player, and the prevailing thought that the SEC is a conference full of cheaters is preserved. But Auburn looks good, right?
If the allegations are false: Jeffrey Lee, a man who’s supposed to be a reputable journalist, has spouted off things that he knew to be false or at least didn’t know to be completely true. He’s potentially ruined the future of kid who is innocent, and he’s added to the recent history of tree poisonings, mattress burnings, and other false allegations about a pay-to-play scheme. But Alabama looks good, right?
Either way, true or false, this probably won’t turn out well for the SEC. Sure, either Alabama or Auburn will come out looking a little better than they did previously, but the conference will come out of this one with a stronger reputation as either cheaters or people who take their football a little too seriously.
Either Alabama or Auburn will win this one, but for the conference, this rivalry has become a no-win situation.