Where there is smoke, there is fire.
That is what everyone is saying about the Auburn Tigers today as controversial writer Selena Roberts threw the university, Gene Chizik and even Will Muschamp under the bus with heavy allegations of major ethical and recruiting violations during the Tigers’ run to the 2010 BCS National Championship.
If you haven’t read it, it is worth the read for sure. Roberts makes it pretty clear that it is not so much about what Auburn and its staff did as much as it is about what did they not do. According to her report and sources, Auburn paid players, paid recruits, broke every rule possible and used former safety Mike McNeil as a scapegoat for things that have yet to be mentioned.
But the question you have to answer before you go any further in this rhetorical madness is who do you believe? Not who do you want to believe, but who do you honestly believe?
Is it Roberts? She’s the reporter that took the Duke Lacrosse rape case and scandal to the level of the witch hunt that led to her demise and the disbarment of lead prosecutor Mike Nifong only to resurface to out Alex Rodriguez in his use of steroids in baseball. Yes, that Roberts. And now here she stands with this novel of unlawful activities that would make a street hustler in Las Vegas blush.
Is it McNeil? He’s the player accusing Muschamp of “going to the drawer” to give him money in an interview as he awaits trial for an alleged robbery that caused his dismissal from the team. Are his motives pure or is he just trying to get back at his school for turning its back on him?
Is it Auburn? It seems the Chizik Era might go down in history to rival any College Football season in the 1980s or 1990s with the Miami Hurricanes and might even challenge the Jerry Tarkanian hoop teams with the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. Maybe; because there have been countless folks stand up to out illegal activities at Auburn and even more that have cried foul only to have the NCAA find nothing. That’s right. Nothing.
So, where do you stand now? Have you picked a side or has reality set in that this whole thing looks like our government trying to figure out who is more wrong while our problems get worse and worse?
To be honest, Roberts was the prefect person to add her two cents worth into the curious case that was Chizik at Auburn. If any run of the mill reporter would have inked these words, it just wouldn’t have been the same.
Chaos demands perfection in its whirlwind of lies and uncertainty. And when it comes to Roberts, McNeil and the punching bag that is Auburn, it found it in its most pure form.
The zealot. The thief. The establishment.
Personally, this guy doesn’t believe any of them. And just remember; where there is smoke, there is fire. But usually the cause of the fire that consumes didn’t start with just one catalyst.
M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him @woodysmalls.