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Pay-to-play hits home

By   /   April 7, 2011  /   Comments

All things considered, college athletics is in a troubled state, and issues are starting to hit close to home.

Just look around at the wreckage. The landscape is riddled with damage.

With the NCAA tournament recently ending, consider that Kentucky’s coach John Calipari has pushed two programs, UMass and Memphis, into serious NCAA punishment. Conveniently, Calipari isn’t in town when any of these punishments roll down having bolted to greener pastures on both occasions before any sanctions were handed out. Now Kentucky, his current employer, is under investigation. I know … shocking!

Of course, UConn’s leader Jim Calhoun is no saint and has already been suspended for three games next season, and the investigations into his recruiting efforts have just begun.

Tennessee had not even fully recovered from that whole Lane Kiffin mess, then Bruce Pearl gets off the reservation bringing more NCAA hounds to sniff around the Volunteer campus.

Then the World discovers Ohio State’s squeaky clean Jim Tressel is actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing. His fore knowledge of the tattoo scandal and pre-Sugar Bowl slap on the wrist reek of hypocrisy from the top of the Buckeye athletic department down.

Florida is in a mess too. Urban “Soft on Crime” Meyer resigned again after Jimbo Fisher gave him a bloody lip, and then Will Muschamp went out and hired Charlie Weiss. Good luck with that.

After leaving the sport to be with his family “Soft on Crime” waited a full month before he began throwing his name in for possible job openings … like the one that may develop at Ohio State. So that whole “my tummy hurts” excuse was exactly that … an excuse to leave one of the top football jobs in the country. But why? Me thinks I smell a rotten Gator being swept under the rug. Also, don’t forget there has to be a reason Florida passed over heir apparent Dan Mullen when they were shopping. Could it all be related?

If you really want  talk about turbulence, let’s dare to step over the Chattahoochee. Not sure where to start, but Cam Newton’s semi-pro contract is old news now. (For Auburn, anyway. Maybe not for the two coaches we discussed in the last paragraph.) There have been tree murders, armed robberies and a HBO special since the events of last fall.

In the cable expose hosted by Bryant Gumbel, former Westover Patriot Troy Reddick claims to have been contacted by a representative of a local Auburn alumni and offered money to play for the Tigers.

As a high school senior, Reddick was leaning towards Georgia Tech but ultimately chose Auburn. He was recruited by former Auburn assistant Hugh Nall, who covered south Georgia and served as offensive line coach on The Plains. Since leaving coaching, Nall has gone to work for Southern Ag Carriers right here in the Good Life City.

Reddick, an offensive lineman, claims he did not take money to sign with Auburn, but says he did take money from an Auburn coach on three occasions in his junior season, and on seven occasions as a senior.

The former Patriot claims that he became unhappy at Auburn and was threatening to leave the school. In the HBO piece he said, “I think me worrying got back to the alumni from my hometown or it may have been the coaches or the staff, but everybody knew I did not want to be there.”

Remember this simple equation when reading Reddick’s statement: Hometown = Albany.

There are many Auburn fans in this town, and they love their Tigers. So what if a few hundred dollars flowed from one of them to a player to help make his life a little easier. Reddick should be grateful, not bitter. No one made him go to Auburn or forced him to take money, and complaining about it now shows no loyalty if it actually happened.

I am no rocket surgeon, but there is a difference in boosters trying to help a kid and an institution blatantly putting players on the payroll or the sleazy tactics of Pearl, Calipari, Meyer, Tressel and Kiffin.

As for a solution to straightening out the sloppy landscape of the NCAA, well, I’m no brain scientist, either, but until 90,000 people are willing to pack a stadium on a fall Saturday to watch actual students play, there isn’t one. Sadly, a 4.5 40 time is more important to some of us than a 3.5 GPA.

Written by Mike Flynn.

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About the author

Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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