Homework: If you're not up to date (and, honestly, how can a loyal reader not be), read the 3rd blurb of this Rebel Roundup first. Be certain to click all of the links therein.
Before we get started, let me just reaffirm the already well-established fact that I am an Ole Miss homer. I don't mean to insult you by saying that, but the story on which I am about to write has somehow become a heated debate and I think it's important for me to simply reaffirm with everyone where my loyalties lie.
Having that been said, this whole "he said/he said" with regards to Bobbie Massie's recruitment by Alabama has gotten stupid. And, no, it's not our fault.
"Our," of course, is the possessive pronoun representing the fraternity of amateur Ole Miss sports websites (The Cup, DeepSouthSports, NAFOOM, etc). I say that because I perceive the situation to have happened thusly:
- Bobbie Massie told Yancy Porter a story about his recruitment under the assumption that whatever he told him would be off the record. The story more or less described Nick Saban as trying to blackmail Bobbie into committing to Alabama.
- Yancy, being the "journalist" he is known to be at times, posted the story on the premium section of Ole Miss' Scout.com page.
- The story naturally leaked out of the premium section and onto the internet at large, where it then spread around SEC websites like an epidemic. These websites included the aforementioned group of Ole Miss related sites among several others where the tale was recounted more-or-less word-for-word as it appeared in its original state.
- Bama fans went nuts. People cursed, pointed fingers, made threats, et cetera.
- Then, Bobbie Massie, to end further prodding or even perhaps follow orders handed down to him from Nutt and staff, nips the story in the bud by saying "umm, the things that I said, yeah I didn't really say that."
So, assuming this hypothetical series of events to be true, who then is to blame? Is Yancy to blame for taking something that should have been assumed to be "off the record" and posting it on some sort of forum? Certainly. Are Alabama fans to blame for making this a much bigger deal than it should have ever been? Absolutely. Are the 2nd hand distributors of watercooler tales to blame? Eh, hardly.
Unfortunately, one wouldn't be able to tell with the clusterfuck of a comment thread Erik dealt with on Deep South Sports. Now, I must admit, I foolishly participated in some of the proceedings but I am a repentant man. However, I never once accused the author of slander (how?), defamation, or retorted to a supposedly bogus story with even more bogus bullshit (the guy who goes on and on about the "tire salesman" or whoever it was that "bought" Massie for us should quit the internet for a few months). Needless to say, it's tough to wade through and boy, is it ever nasty.
But, why all of this vitriol? Why do Alabama fans feel a constant need to defend their beloved Tahd from anyone who so much as questions their team's integrity and/or ability on the field? To them, their program can do no wrong. I posit that if this were to have involved Ole Miss and [SEC School], you woudln't have seen half the anti-Ole Miss reaction we're seeing.
It's not as if any of this is a new development, either. If Bama lands a big recruit, it's because they're Bama, by God. If someone else lands a big recruit, so-and-so cheated and zomg u better watch out mfer cuz the NCAA is going to drop the damn hammer on u lmao1! It's almost as if so many of them are still trying to get back at, shit, anybody for the whole Albert Means debacle.
Now, with regards to Yancy and his original tale, it's important to point out that he's earned a bit of a reputation over the last few years. He's overly optimistic, a mediocre writer, and highly prone to bizarre grammatical and spelling errors. However, I've never fancied him to be the kind of guy to simply make shit up out of the blue. Hell, I'd go so far as to say he doesn't have the creativity to do such a thing.
Furthermore, when considering all of the bizarre stories, personalities, and subcultures involved in the greatest football conference in America, why is any of this so far outside of the realm of possibility to cause its very mention to become highly offensive? Based on what I know and what I have observed, not one single drop of that story is impossible. Hell, even before signing day we reported a rumor that Nick Saban and Bobbie Massie had a bit of a falling out.
Yes, there was a blog.al.com piece which has Massie as saying that none of the aforementioned hoopla ever happened, but for anyone to ignore the fact that the al.com writer and Yancy Porter were using the exact same source while getting differing tales would be foolish. This, also, shouldn't be shocking when considering how many recruits "commit" to 3 or 4 different schools in the same day. These kids lie. These kids make shit up. For anyone to think that overhyped 18 year olds from the poor, rural South who are suddenly receiving more media attention than an overwhelming majority of us ever will are continuously integrous is a pipe dream.
And really, even if it were 100% true, why on Earth would it even matter? Far too often, SEC loyalties and fanbase groupthink devolves what would be everyday ribbing and storytelling into virulent, personal attacks. So what if Nick Saban isn't a saint? No SEC head coach is! Every single season, dozens of such stories fly about the various SEC blogs and message boards only to be shrugged aside for whatever the flavor-of-the-week rumor may be. I mean, just within the last couple of years we have seen stories of Les Miles meeting with Michigan, dissent in Bobby Petrino's Atlanta Falcon lockerroom, and Lane Kiffin telling a South Carolina recruit that he'll pump gas for the rest of his life among far too many others to waste time mentioning. Why this particular tale warrants empty threats of legal action and other attacks on anyone's behalf is way beyond me.
Look, this has all gotten silly. Let's give it a rest. Alabama fans: Stop convincing yourselves that anything will ever come of this and spit those damned sour grapes out of your mouths. Ole Miss fans: stop talking about it, especially if you're going to do so in an antagonizing manner. The SEC West will likely come down to our game this upcoming October. Let's focus on that instead, shall we?