Thanks to my mom, I am the proud (?) owner of FLIM FLAM: The Truth Behind the Blind-Faith Culture that Led to the Explosive NCAA Investigation of Ole Miss Football. Yes, the cover art is a nondescript “football” “player” wearing vaguely Ole Miss colors with a facemask resembling jail cell bars. It’s over the top and cheaply produced, and it’s the perfect entryway for what is an utterly boring, unnecessarily long read.
Also, it’s a hardcover for some damn reason. The back of the dust jacket features a very self-satisfied Robertson standing in front of a high school (?) football stadium he’s been banned from above three glowing reviews, one from Daniel (not Dan, mind) Wolken, Houston Nutt, and Tom (not Thomas, mind) Mars, Houston Nutt’s attorney in his embarrassment suit against Ole Miss. As I said, this thing is so over the top it owns a home on Alpha Centauri.
Let me back up a moment. I’ve written critical scholarly reviews of an English translation of Statius’ Thebaid and Conversations with Michael Crichton. These reviews can be found in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. My main mode when writing a book review is to read through with a pen and highlighter once over the course of a few days, then come back to those highlighted passages and my marginalia and construct the review out from there.
FLIM FLAM deserves no such engagement of minutiae on that scale. This awful runoff contains a semi-typo in the fifth paragraph of the “preface.” Yes, it contains a preface and introduction, because Steve Robertson can’t be self-important enough. The dedication’s second paragraph — yes, the dedication runs to eight paragraphs — explains that Robertson’s father raised him to be a Mississippi State fan, so yeah, he throws the game on page one. (He also weirdly refers to his father throughout the dedication, preface and introduction as “daddy,” proving yet again that those who haven’t read their Freud are doomed to become a Freudian typology.)
It’s probably a good time to pause here in talking about the dedication and Robertson’s father to quote this little item:
[My father] shared with me the importance of accountability, and how grown folks accept responsibility rather than make excuses.
This here is a perfect distillation of why Steve “completed his lifelong goal of writing a book.” This stupid, self-righteous bullshit. This is FLIM FLAM’s entire raison d’etre. To wag his sweaty little finger in Ole Miss’ collective face. A giant, disingenuous TSK-TSK. A 312-page apologia for NCAA regulations. That’s all this trash heap amounts to, so if you’re, like, really into the rules and shit, sure, go ahead and pick it up.
ANYWAY, moving on to the preface — which, functionally, serves as an introduction to the introduction — Steve here explains why he felt this book was necessary, outside and above the already tireless and tiresome media coverage to date in existence. To wit:
As rumors began to spread [sic] the NCAA was looking into the recruiting practices of the Ole Miss football program, I expected in-state media coverage to really take off. It didn’t. In hindsight, I should’ve known better.
I didn’t ask to be an authority on this topic, but at the same time I’m incredibly grateful to those with information who crossed my path or reached out to me to share what they knew.
Where did the “that” go in that first sentence? Now, given we’re dealing with an Alex Jones-like level of conspiracy theorizing — HERE’S WHAT BIG MEDIA ISN’T TELLING YOU — we can dispense with that bullshit off the bat. We here at Red Cup Rebellion have been curating a very long story stream on this very topic. It’s onerous and odious and you all, I know, are tired of it. Outside of this short series on this very long book, we’re pretty much done talking about the investigation and resignation until the NCAA’s COI decides Ole Miss’ fate. We’ll do a post or two then move on with our lives. It’s been four years, after all, and Jeff wants us to move on. I do too.
Let’s place aside the hilarity of “I didn’t ask to be an authority on this topic,” because bruh, you totally did. You wasted a year of your miserable, wet life driving around Mississippi to expose a fake Twitter account, a singular aspect of this drivel that occupies three chapters across 37 pages. So you showed up on Deadspin. So did Brett Favre’s penis, and it’s better looking by an order of 10.
Also, I don’t read a lot of Steve Robertson because I value my optic nerves, but who knew that he regularly uses the contractions “there’re” and “who’re,” which are wholly unnecessary, clumsy, and frankly baffling. One can only hope that there’s a typo awaiting me on the latter and he just straight-up wrote “whore.”
Moving on. Ahem:
This story at its core is about college athletics, and how the desire to field a winning team trumped just about everything, including contents of a person’s character ... this book is the true story of a false narrative.
While others ran from this story, I saw it as an opportunity. In my opinion, this scandal is one of the biggest sports stories in the Southeastern Conference and one of the most important ones in the history of college athletics. Certainly, in the state of Mississippi.
Robertson’s insistence on this being “the most important story” in the history of college athletics overlooks Baylor, Penn State, the Arizona State points-shaving scandal and a host of others. So players received impermissible benefits, so the fuck what. Wait, why am I even engaging him on his own terms? This disingenuous prick deserves the direct opposite of the benefit of the doubt, and here I am complicit in his Egg Bowl Twitter dipshittery. Get it together, Lohmar.
The preface and the introduction are roughly the same length at about a page and a half each. The introduction whimsically recalls stories of his, er, “daddy” slaving away in the predawn hours before class at State. Oh yeah, there’s also this:
The first Bulldog football game I ever attended in person was November 1, 1980. We beat Bear Bryant and No. 1 Alabama, 6-3.
What a startlingly vicious self-own. That you fell in love with Mississippi State football after a 6-3 win over Alabama. An upset over No. 1 Alabama is certainly interesting and remarkable and memorable, but to do so in such agonizing, godawful fashion and, y’know, actually enjoy the experience says quite a bit about you and where your football prerogatives lie. I’m all about the spectacular, the circus, the fun of this stupid, hilarious, chaotic sport, and a game like that would suck the life out of me. I turned my television off after the opening kickoff.
This thing is 12 chapters long, so I’m thinking that I’ll kick one of these out after every three chapters. That feels about right. I have no schedule to speak of, really, but I can tell you that I’m into the early portion of chapter two and I already want to open my veins. Let’s hope I make it there.