We devoted an entire post to chapter four because it was more or less required. It dealt with “NCAA enforcement 101,” a perfectly smug chapter title that betrays Armsleeves’ strict adherence to NCAA dogma, which is fundamentally immoral, unethical, and inhumane. We are, after all, the premier Democratic Socialist blog on the internet.
Chapter five acts as something of a coda to what’s come before, but also a table-setter for what’s to come after. We need to do one post for this chapter because the next three deal with the catfish Twitter account. It feels appropriate to dedicate one post to that run of three chapters and one chapter to Steve’s “sources” in Mississippi, such as they are. None of them are named, outside of Auburn’s current compliance guru, David Didion. Cool people you know there, Steve.
Let’s start here, because this actually reflects my own experience as a blogger about college sports.
In my line of work, there is always a question to answer, an e-mail [sic] to respond to, a call to return and no shortage of folks who have something to share. As I sorted through the recent messages on piqued my interest.
A friend from Tupelo, Mississippi, had a simple directive, “Call Me! Important!”
Laying aside Steve’s unfortunately boring use of the first person singular — this entire book is written in the “I DID THIS, I RECEIVED THIS” mode — this happens to me all the time. I’m the managing editor of the premier Ole Miss sports blog on the internet, so I get a lot of emails. I’ve had a Twitter follower offer up that Dan Mullen was apparently the NCAA’s lead informant on this whole sordid affair, with some colorful details I won’t share here, because it’s entirely hearsay and rumor.
At any rate, I receive A LOT of interesting emails on a weekly basis, so I can sympathize with Steve here. I just don’t follow out on these missives, because I’m sane and have other interesting shit going on in my life. Steve apparently doesn’t, because he can write a sentence like this without an ounce of self-awareness: “It has been my experience that just about everybody considers what they have to say as important.” Bruh, did you just slam your own book? I think you just slammed your own book. There’s nothing new here, people.
Here is Steve Robertson’s singular attempt at humor, or creativity, for that matter:
Just for fun, we will call the Tupelo informant “Elvis.”
Great. Now we have to read through 15 pages dealing with an “informant” “named” “Elvis” because you can’t get any cheekier than fucking Elvis Presley. Let’s hear about Elvis’ level of access.
It turns out that Elvis had a friend who was an Ole Miss booster who had been contacted by the NCAA enforcement staff (emphasis added).
Water-tight, in my opinion. An unnamed “friend from Tupelo” with a “friend who was an Ole Miss booster” spouting off about being contacted by the NCAA. I can’t shoot any holes in this claim because this claim is already rotted Swiss cheese. That Steve leads off his chapter on sources with this liquid drivel is telling for any of his journalism: he’s willing to believe any old asshat that professes to have dirt on Ole Miss football. Sure, Ole Miss “cheated” in the eyes of the NCAA, but ever remember that Steve went fully in on “Elvis.” I’m not even trained as a journalist, and I know that this shit would never pass muster at the Clarion-Ledger. They’d throw you in the trash.
Let’s come back to what this chapter is about, though. The meat of this chapter concerns itself with academic fraud accusations at Ole Miss under Houston Nutt and Hugh Freeze. Delvin Jones is Steve’s lead, uh, source on this, and here is Steve’s great observation:
Rumors surrounding Ole Miss signees, mostly from out of state, setting up residence in Mississippi’s capital city spread like wildfire. How did all of this come to be? Clearly, it wasn’t all by happenstance that a group of out of state college bound [sic] football players showed up at an alternative learning center to live and study together and work towards their collective college eligibility.
It was obvious that a scheme was in place, but who was behind it? Who was paying for it? Where would these players live? Who would feed them? Who would pay the light bill?
Let’s begin at the end of this run, with the final questions posed in this second paragraph. Maybe the NCAA should pay for all of those expenses, seeing as we’re dealing with real employees expending real labor. This point will of course be lost on our author, because he’s too beholden to NCAA enforcement to see through the fact that this organization has arbitrarily set wage prices (at zero) and profit margins (at infinity) to the detriment of the most vulnerable among the entire endeavor. A.J. Brown risks not just his health, but his life every time he takes the field, and he receives no reimbursement for that fact. At least none that’s allowable by the NCAA, which remains awful.
Chapter five is confusing, because it’s nominally about “sources,” but it sticks with the NCAA rules of the previous chapter. It hones in on this to conclude the proceedings:
The blood lust [sic] soon hit a fever pitch once fans of other schools came to the realization that something was truly happening [with Ole Miss recruiting]. This was no fire drill. The smoke was real, and the fire was blazing on many fronts.
Whatever, Steve. This is how the chapter ends, by the way. That this story reached a national, fever pitch is not news. To describe it as “no fire drill” probably overstates the severity of what Ole Miss did. They paid some players. Houston Nutt’s tenure saw some academic fraud — and that’s a serious ethical offense, in my opinion, which should be punished appropriately — but the meat of Steve’s story is players receiving impermissible benefits. That’s it. This book is mountains out of molehills. Your title is a mountain out of a molehill.
A chapter on “sources,” many of them unnamed. A chapter about the Houston Nutt-era academic fraud allegations. A chapter about players recruited by Ole Miss who relocate to Mississippi, which seems suspect. Note that those suspicions are never actually spelled out here because Steve has literally nothing else to go on in this regard. A chapter about “Elvis,” who got in touch with him one day because a buddy of his was bragging about talking to the NCAA.
A chapter about the book itself. Unimportant, repetitive, redundant, and unnecessary.