Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 61 - Tornado Relief / Please Help

Please people, give the Google advertisements a click. Google will pay me a few cents every time one of you takes the time to click on one of their ads on this site. When I first put the ads up, I thought, "Well, maybe (over time) I'll get enough clicks to buy myself something that I normally wouldn't be able to get." Now, in light of the devastation that has cast such a dark cloud over my state and the rest of the south, I am hoping to speed up that process and use the money to help those that really need it.

As I am sure everyone knows by now, the storms that came through Alabama earlier this week left a trail of destruction, despair and doubt in their wake. While Tuscaloosa is the largest city that was hit, therefore garnering the majority of the media coverage; it is important that we realize there were so many other areas that were completely demolished by these storms. Close to home for me was the Phil Campbell area. A friend from work is from Phil Campbell and while he and his immediate family escaped both harm and material loss, he did lose several friends and a cousin.

Phil Campbell is what is often referred to as a "one horse town." A small down town area that consisted of a couple of shops, a convenience store, an ice cream parlor, a grocery store, a high school,a Masonic lodge and a couple of other buildings all kept in order by two traffic lights hanging over a 2 lane Alabama state highway. It is no more. While a couple of the buildings survived well enough to still be standing, for all practical purposes the town has been leveled. The tragic stories I am hearing from my friends and loved ones in my area concerning what they have seen and heard from those that survived the storms are horrific.

Phil Campbell was populated by roughly 1000 people. The way of life in this small area on top of an overgrown hill (that is lovingly referred to as a mountain by those of us who grew up here) consists primarily of about three job sources. Everyone is either a farmer or working in one of the plants (many mobile homes are made in this part of the state as well as a lot of furniture) or they commute to "The Shoals Area" for work. The people of this small Alabama town may not be as sophisticated as the New York City Slickers or as educated as all of the Washington DC bureaucrats, and they wouldn't have it any other way. They understand what a hard day's work consists of, they know what it means to be an American and as evidenced by the aftermath of the tornado, they know what it means to help each other.

Currently the death toll for this small community stands at 26 but others are still missing. Nearby Russellville, Alabama is the home of the closest hospital for Phil Campbell residents. After speaking with a nurse that volunteered to help the night of the storm, I can tell you that many, many of the people in Phil Campbell were injured. Some with life threatening injuries. This storm has had an enormous impact on my state and my psyche, but nothing compared to that of the residents of Phil Campbell. In my nurse friend's 25 years of nursing she said that she had never seen anything like what she saw in the Russellville Hospital. She said they were forced to send people with injuries that definitely needed further medical attention on their way because of the sheer volume of people with more pressing injuries. It's a scary thought, but I also understand that these types of decisions had to be made to save lives. She likened the scene to that of a military field hospital which, in itself, should give you a good idea of the scope of havoc that has been reaped on this small town.

A friend of mine who happens to be one of the best photographers I've ever seen, made the grim trip to Phil Campbell to take some supplies for those that needed them. While driving, she struggled with documenting what she found with her camera, but eventually felt that it was important for people to see what she had seen. Her website contains more pictures of the Phil Campbell area as well as a lot of her other work. The pictures attached to this article were all Taken by Amanda. Please go visit Amanda's site as well. Her ability to tell a story with a lens is truly remarkable. She can be found at:

Amanda Chapman Photography

Tuscaloosa is a city that holds a special place in my heart and I know that they too are in dire need of assistance. The death toll continues to climb in Tuscaloosa and several hundred are still missing. My point is that we need to remember that it was not only Tuscaloosa that needs help. Another small community (Hackleburg) was completely demolished by the same tornado that hit Phil Campbell. Harvest, Alabama (a Huntsville Suburb) was leveled by another April 27th, tornado. Alberta just outside of Tuscaloosa, Pell City outside of Birmingham and the list just goes on and on were all hit hard by these storms. Then we can add to that lives lost in Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee to make this one of the darkest days in the history of the United States.

I am proud to be an Alabamian for many reasons, but one of the largest ones is being displayed everywhere I have looked over the last couple of days. The people of this state are donating money, time, clothes, water, gasoline and their most heartfelt sympathies for their fellow Alabamians that have lost so much. I cannot fail to mention the outpouring of "love for your fellow man" being shown by Americans everywhere. Penn State has organized drives to help out those in Tuscaloosa. Former Alabama coach, Gene Stallings was photographed cooking food for emergency workers. Even Alabama and Auburn fans have put aside their ongoing feud to help those that need help. Regardless of the tragedy this state is dealing with, it is comforting to know that people all over this great country do still care.

Lastly, PLEASE CLICK the Google Advertisements. I made a post at (an Arkansas Razorbacks Message Board Community) asking for their help by clicking the ads. From that one post on that one site, I garnered 40 ad clicks and raised $30.81 through my Google Associates account. (Thanks Douglas and the rest of you Hawgs. You all are a class bunch.) By clicking on the ads, you are NOT agreeing to buy anything. It just takes a moment of your time and it is a way to help those who need it without costing you a dime. My intentions are to give all proceeds to the Red Cross. I am going to make sure this is done in a way so that the money is used in all states, not just Alabama. In all honesty, my communication is very limited right now due to the storms, but I will find a way to evenly distribute the monies. If that means writing a separate check to the Red Cross branch in each state that is what I will do. I will keep this site updated on what is happening with the money and how much we have been able to raise. If you have any questions, feel free to reach me at or on twitter at @bamason25 . Please spread the word and try to get some clicks for these people who are in dire need.

EDIT: 5/1/01 - WWW.TIGERDROPPINGS.COM (a LSU fan site) and WWW.HOGVILLE.NET (A Arkansas Razorbacks fan site) Have been instrumental in getting people to click the google ads on this site. I can't thank them enough. Many other people have helped me via twitter and facebook. If everyone can just get a person or two to come here and click a google ad, we will be able to make a decent donation to the Red Cross. Keep up the good work, we've got a long road ahead of us.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 56 - Alabama's Governor Did What? Trooper Taylor Did What?

Alright everyone, I'm back to ramble on about a few things. There has been a little movement in BingoGate. There has been mud slinging from the plains. Brooks of SportsbyBrooks is still wrong more than he's right. Bobby LOUDER has somehow retained power at Auburn University. John Parker Wilson finally broke down and got a twitter account. AND.... Will Ferrell is still hilarious.

This past week, Gilley (one of the original Bingo - Eleven) plead guilty. In more than one instance he directly implicated Milton McGregor as being another to bribe Alabama State Officials for their votes to legalize gambling in the state. Gilley's guilty plea has set off a firestorm in both the media and the  message board world. What exactly does Gilley's deal mean? That's anybody's guess. Regardless of what Milton McGregor's attorney (Joe Espy) would have us believe, it can't be good for Uncle Miltie. To me, Espy's statement of, "Nothing has changed." is about as convincing as Au's 2010 National Championship being on the up and up. How can things not have changed? One of the "co-indictees" has fingered Espy's client by name as being a party to bribery. Things have changed and this very well could be the beginning of the end for a lot of different people. Espy seems to think the Feds coerced Gilley's plea because of Gilley's personal situation (IE: In jail, sick wife, injured son, broke, cat is old, needs new tires, etc, etc, etc,). I hate to break it you Joe, but I think Gilley jumped on the deal knowing that if he did so first he would most likely get the most leniency when sentencing day rolls around. He's in the front of this roller coaster, but Mcgregor is the one with his hands up and screaming at the top of his lungs. Don't worry Uncle Miltie, you  may have screamed at the first little dip, but I bet the next big one gets you some screaming company.

On the other hand, it is possible that Espy is 100% correct. Nothing has changed. If you will remember, back during the whole Healthsouth debacle, founder and CEO Richard Scrushy was directly implicated by several different people in the organization, yet was acquitted on all counts. They ended up backdooring Scrushy so he is at least in jail, but he just almost got away with it. If Uncle Miltie walks, Espy is right, nothing has changed. Corruption still runs rampant in the Alabama government.

Speaking of corruption in the Alabama State government. How about Governor Bentley's stamp of approval for Bobby LOUDER being reappointed for another term as a member of the Au board of trustees? What? Did I just actually type that? No, it can't be. Why in the world would a governor anywhere condone the appointment a guy that is expected to be indicted at any time in connection with the 3rd largest bank failure in the history of the United States? What politician in their right mind would make such a move? Well, hang on to your seats everyone as the answer to that one might be a bit startling. The answer? NONE. There isn't a politician anywhere that would back this guy UNLESS.... he felt sure nothing was going to happen to him or that the connection to the future jailbird would be minimal. That's a little scary to me. Does Bobby LOUDER have that much power? I think he thinks he does and he may be able to talk the game well enough to convince people like Bentley that all is going to come up perfect at the end of the day. I think the variable here is the FEDS in general. While I by no means think that the Federal Government is void of corruption, I do not think that LOUDER will have near as much control over the outcome of any possible upcoming proceedings as he appears to think he will. At the state level, he may have a scary amount of power, but on the federal level; I suspect LOUDER would be considered a peon. Of course, this is purely speculation on my part and I am open to anyone giving me a good reason as to why Bentley would continue to back him given the current circumstances. Campaign contributions aside, it just doesn't make sense. The not completely silent minority of normal fans, faculty and alumni from Au (yes, it is true, they aren't all raving lunatics) have balked at this and I sure hope that some of their "open letters" garner some national media attention.

Another bit of Au news? Surely not. What else can happen down there? Believe me folks, I think things are just getting going good down on the plains. The latest OSU / Tressell revelations may be giving the Plainsmen a bit of a break, but I sure wouldn't get out of my foxhole yet if I were them. The most recent Au commitment, Zeke Pike, had a very interesting article published a few days back. In that article he claimed he wasn't worried about the accusations being leveled at Au because Gus Malzahn Turned down $15 million, to stay at Au. MY question is from WHERE? Let's take it a step further. He also claimed that much maligned and accused Au assistant coach Trooper Taylor turned down a job with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys to stay at Au. MY response...PROVE IT. I've been told from several different directions that the Cowboys did not offer Taylor a job of any kind. So, if someone out there has information to the contrary, I would love to hear it. Otherwise, I'll file this in my ever growing collection of "Au Recruiting Trail Bull Crap."

On to Brooks... my favorite reporter wannabe. Oh Brooks, when will you ever learn? I find it hilarious that he outed the University of Tennessee for being a co-conspirator in all of the racial hate that Colonel Reb (Ole Miss' former mascot) supposedly brought to the SEC. Sorry Brooks, the Volunteers moniker has nothing to do with the Civil War. I'm an Alabama fan and know that the Vols take their name from the state's nickname of The "Volunteer" State. This is in reference to the war of 1812 and more specifically the Battle of New Orleans where Volunteer Soldiers from Tennessee played a major role. Come on Brooks, is your Google broken again? Did your UGA ties not help you out on this one or have they all disowned you too? Someone retweeted a post from you saying that you didn't blame the Tennessee fans for being mad at you. Well, what do you expect with the half-assed reporting you continue to do from of all places, LOS ANGELES, CA? The state that I and every other SEC fan are sure to turn to first when looking for information pertaining to the South. Everyone knows that Los Angeles is known for it's prowess on having a thumb and forefinger on the very pulse of the Southern states. DUDE.... write about something you have a clue about and even if you don't have clue at least try to actually "look into it" before you publish it. A reporter with Jeff Lee as a source, a reporter that censors opposing views (that actually prove what a dimwit you are), a reporter....YEAH RIGHT!

Former Alabama QB, John Parker Wilson finally got rid of his Nokia Bag phone and has joined the world of Twitter. You can find him @jpwilson4. Bama fans, add him and let him know we haven't forgotten him. JPW was crucial to turning the Alabama program around and while I must admit that he sometimes raised my blood pressure 20 points, he always gave everything he had. JPW is a winner and I am thrilled to see him get an opportunity at the next level. I have every bit of faith that he will eventually leave is mark at the next level as well.

I have no idea if @wilIferrell is the real Will Ferrell, but whoever it is; that guy is hilarious. Worth the twitter follow for sure.

My buddy the @BandiRef over at is doing a major overhaul at his site. Keep an eye on it as it's about time for another one of his Toons to go viral. Show the love and remember to click an advertising link or two while there. It's a lot like tipping your waitress for guys like us. It only takes a second and actually does help us out.



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 50 - Mark Ingram / Alabama's A-Day

 The University of Alabama has beaten its own record for spring game attendance. I was going to do an article on it but my Buddy over at  beat me to it. His article does a fantastic job of looking at spring game attendance numbers from around the SEC. By comparison, there isn’t a school that even comes close to Alabama. Go read Bandit’s article to see exactly what I would have said. Click on an advertising link or two for him while you are there. It really does help guys like us out when you all do that.

So, we have now established that Banditref stole my idea and has left me with nothing to talk about. Thanks a lot man. We could talk a bit about the same old Auburn stuff, but I don’t feel like getting a bunch of hate mail today. We could talk about sportsbybrooks, but he would probably just try to find a way to censor it. We could talk about Mark Ingram. Hey, that’s an idea as Mark seems to be spending his days stuck in various airports around the country.  We could also talk about what I saw at Bryant-Denny this past Saturday. So, off we go….

I’ve tweeted Mark and asked for an interview. As busy as he is these days, I completely understand him not responding as yet, but Mark, just so you know; I will hit you up for it down the road. I am assuming that since Mark is in Boston he has been there to speak with the Patriots. Let me preface something here… I’m a huge Patriots fan. How can a guy from Alabama be a Patriots fan? Well, to make a long story short, when I was kid my Dad took me to buy one of those Miami Dolphins letter jackets that were so prevalent back in 70’s and 80’s. Upon arrival at the sporting goods store, I was saddened to see all of the Dolphins jackets were gone, leaving me with nothing but the Raiders, the Steelers and the Patriots to choose from.  My Dad (not wanting to make another trip back for the Dolphins jacket) said, “You should be a Patriots fan son. They are red, white and blue…All American.” Well, from that day forward, I was a Pats fan. Keep in mind this was when they were horrible. They had some good players, but could never get it together, save maybe the 1985 season where the Bears trounced them relentlessly in the Super Bowl. They had players like Steve Grogan, Sam “Bam” Cunningham, Mosi Tatupu, Irving Fryar, Russ Francis and everyone remembers Darryl Stingley.  I loved them then, so you can imagine how easy it has been for me to be a Pats fan these days. So, if there are any Patriots coaches, staff or administrators that happen across this blog, you need Mark Ingram. Trade up, do whatever you have to do, but get him. 

Mark Ingram is being ripped off by Charlie Sheen on the whole winning thing. Mark Ingram is a winner period. I was lucky enough to meet Mark a couple of years back and was as impressed with his off the field demeanor as I was with what he did on Saturdays. In that meeting, Mark was surrounded by at least 100 other Alabama fans, but he did one thing that sticks out in my mind. I was trying to tell him something (exactly what it was I don’t remember. Probably just something about what a good job he had done earlier that day or any of the 1 billion comments like that he has to endure everywhere he goes).That day, Mark held his hand up (as if to say, “Give me just a second.”) and continued to listen to what I was trying to say. He could have grabbed the picture I was getting signed for my son and shoved it back to me while already getting to the next fan, but he didn’t. He took the time to appreciate me and what I had to say. I was already a Mark Ingram fan, but that day I became THE MARK INGRAM FAN. Add to this that the guy won the Heisman Trophy, runs like a cannonball and never, ever quits. He has fantastic hands and would fit perfectly in the Pats offense. He could contribute immediately and they need that. 

On to A-Day…. While some seem to think that A-day should be another closed scrimmage because the team could get more accomplished towards their goal of being Champions, I love the A-day game. I see the point and cannot disagree that an extra closed scrimmage would allow the coaches and players a chance to garner more valuable information to be used against the teams we will face in the upcoming season. On the other hand though, I love every second of it. The basic play book, (we don’t need Saban showing too much, too early do we?) the chances for kids that most likely will not get to play on Saturdays to get in the game, the atmosphere and our first glimpses of the new faces that will be sporting that Crimson Jersey in the upcoming years. I also think that A-day can and does provide some valuable insight to the coaches and the staff. It’s a chance for them to see how some of the younger kids are going to react when they are expected to perform in front of 93,000 people. 

The Quarterback Battle – McCarron or Simms? From what I saw Saturday, both are able to lead the Tide and neither separated themselves from the other. I’ve seen more scuttlebutt saying that Simms looked better than McCarron, but I just didn’t see it that way. I think they are neck and neck still. In my opinion, McCarron looks to be the safer bet in that he makes better decisions with his throws. This also makes me think that Saban probably has him a tick or two ahead of Simms. If you look at Saban’s history since arriving at the Capstone, he has placed a QB at the position that made good decisions. John Parker Wilson wasn’t the most athletic QB in the world nor did he possess a rifle arm, yet he’s making big money today holding a clipboard in the NFL. McElroy was from the same vein. I think Gmac was a bit more athletic than JPW and probably made better decisions on the whole as the Tide’s QB. I fully expect Gmac to have a successful NFL career as well. I think McCarron fits this mold better than Simms. You have to give the athletic ability a plus in the Simms column. As for arm strength, we hear more about Simms arm, but I think McCarron has a rocket as well. McCarron also seems to have a better feel for touch passes. Of course, this is all just my opinion, but I’m leaning towards McCarron being the front runner heading into fall camp. 

While on the subject of QB’s… I guess everyone noticed Blake Sims getting reps at the position. From what I have been told, Sims possesses a much better arm than anyone (staff included) originally thought. He spent his high school days in a spread type offence and performed very well in it. I wouldn’t be surprised for us to see him have some packages put together just for him. Remember over the last couple of years we (fans) kept wanting to see Mark or Trent throw out of the WILD TIDE formation. Well, I bet both of those guys would tell you that it probably wasn’t the best idea to do that very often. With Blake Sims, that may not be the case. Adding the ability to pass out of that formation will give opposing defenses a lot to look out for.  I’m excited about that possibility.

For the sake of time, I’ll do a more in depth write up on this year’s Crimson Tide in coming weeks, but I do want to go ahead and point out the obvious… TRENT RICHARDSON is a MANBEAST! He looked like he was ready to start the season already. He ran well, caught well and blocked well. He was a bit banged up last year, but man does he look healthy now.  While nobody is talking a lot about it, the fresh legs that we will see supplement Trent this year is most likely going to be Eddie Lacey. Lacey is a load, a big, big load. He is surprisingly fast and can move the pile. He is a hard to tackle, hard to catch kind of runner. I think he was misdiagnosed last season with a case of fumblitus. You guys have to look at this way, he had very few touches and maybe tried to do too much with them. He’s fine and will be one of those backs that nobody wants to tackle. Much like Trent and Mark.  Add in Dee Hart as a faster than a greased ghost on crack change of pace back and I see trouble for opposing D’s this year.  I feel really good about the Tide. REALLY GOOD.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 48 - The TMZ of Sports Stomps On Other's 1st Ammendment Rights

I probably shouldn't take the time to address this, but I just can't resist. This post has nothing to do with what I originally intended to write about, so I will get that one up for you guys as soon as possible

A couple of days ago, I received an email from a reader of this blog. In this email, he also copied a well known blogger (The Banditref, The email details how in retort to the second article posted by Brooks of concerning potential wrongdoings by Alabama in its recruitment of Brent Calloway that he was censored. The reader posted in the comments section of the Sportsbybrooks article and linked to my article, titled "A Babbling Brooks?" (that article can be found here: A Babbling Brooks? ). In that article I posed some questions to Brooks in a very fair and polite manner. I even stated that I WAS a fan of Brooks on several occasions. Brooks never to took the time to acknowledge or respond to any of my questions either by the way. The reader then proceeded to tell me that his link to my article and a link left by the another poster directly above his to a Franklin County, Alabama periodical that also refuted Brooks' article were allowed to be posted to the comments section of Brooks site....VERY BRIEFLY. The reader went back to that section a few minutes later to see if any responses had been made to his post only to find that both the Sports and Stuff article as well as the Franklin, County newspaper articles had been removed. The reader then posted another comment simply asking, "Censor Much Brooks?" As you can imagine, that comment never made it to the comments section of Brooks' site at all. More out of curiosity than anything, I went to the sportsbybrooks article and noticed numerous links to other sites that supported Brooks article, but sure enough mine was no where to be found. Now, I could understand Brooks removing all links, as it is his site and I can see (even if petty and self indulgent) why he may not want any other sites advertised on his page. This is not the case. He allowed the links that didn't refute his article and removed the ones that did. I was able to confirm that the reader who sent me and The Banditref the email was telling the truth as my site received a massive 2 hits from the link's very short life on Brook's site.

A screenshot showing the 2 hits Sports and Stuff received during the short time it was up.

Without calling names, I should also note that there have been numerous reports of SportsbyBrooks "telling on" others who have not blown favorable smoke in Brooks' direction. The funny thing is that Brooks never directly contacts the author that did not portray him in a shining light, but rather contacts the "YARDBARKER Administrative Team" (Yardbarker hosts blog sites similar to this and is affiliated with the FOX network). So, it appears to me that not only does Brooks censor people, he can't take the responses he gets when doing so without having to run and "tell the teacher" on whoever is doing it. A classic case of being able to dish it out but not being able to take it.

So, in my eyes, this seems to be irrefutable proof that SportsbyBrooks censors opposing views. Brooks is supposed to be a reporter but I can no longer attach that moniker to him. Reporters report, Dictators Censor. While Brooks hasn't proven to be either, I'm thinking he is more of a Dictator wannabe. Libya may be in the market for a new one soon and Castro can't live much longer. Maybe Brooks should go ahead an send his resume' in now. I'll give him a vote of confidence for either job.

Let's carry this a step further. I am now getting numerous messages that Brooks' latest "source" is none other than Auburn Rivals Site Editor, Jeff Lee (I guess impending legal troubles surrounding the Crucifixion of Peaches Winston, Brent Calloway and Darren Woodruff have caused him to go underground). Evidently, proof of that has also been removed from Brooks' site. I have not investigated these claims nor do I have anything to back them up, but I see no problem with putting it out there if it's ok for Brooks to twist the comments of a 9th grade high school athlete to fit the overall intent of his story. Nor do I have a problem with putting it out there just so that you guys know what I suspect Brooks of being. What's that you ask? I think Brooks is one of those guys that only cares about Brooks. He could care less about the validity of his articles much less the impact they may have on an innocent person. If this article can get one person to avoid paying attention to anything Brooks says, I will consider it a success. The thing is, I suspect many more than one will stop paying attention to him. 

At this point, I suggest everyone that agrees with me move your opinion of Brooks into the same column as Jeff Lee. In my case the header on that column reads: "Half Assed Reporter Wanna Be's / Part Time Soft Porn Authors". While, I've never seen Brooks post any "soft porn" musings, it seems he knows someone that could give him some tips. One last thing, every sentence doesn't need it's own paragraph.

Hey Brooks......."CENSOR MUCH?"


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 43 - A Babbling Brooks?

My last article was in response to the unfounded allegations by Auburn Rivals writer (and part time soft porn writer) Jeff Lee. In that article I pointed out several inconsistencies with both Lee’s allegations and his thought process. Since that time, it appears the Lee did succeed in causing a media swarm around Alabama’s recruitment of Russellville, Alabama’s Brent Calloway. The latest to jump on the “Bama did something wrong” bandwagon is While I generally enjoy reading Brook’s articles, his latest columns do very little to make me think he knows as much as I previously thought. 

Brooks seems to be reaching far and wide to support the ill reported story of Mr. Lee. I’ll take a few minutes to introduce you to all of the players in this scandal before proceeding:

Brent Calloway – A 3 to 5 star athlete (depending on which recruiting service you are viewing). Brent played both Linebacker and Running Back at Russellville High School. Alabama was recruiting Calloway more for the Linebacker position while Auburn was recruiting him as a Running Back.

“Peaches” Winston – Mr. Winston is Brent’s adoptive father who has a history of helping kids throughout the years. Mr. Winston has gone on record several times stating that he just wanted Brent to “do things the right way.” 

Darren Woodruff – a longtime friend of Winston and confidant of Calloway. Woodruff has stated that he is an Alabama fan but likes Auburn as well. Woodruff has been a part of Calloway’s life since Calloway moved in with Winston at the beginning of his freshman year.

Jeffrey Lee – Auburn Rivals web site editor. Mr. Lee has a long history of slinging mud at anything related to the University of Alabama. Mr. Lee has released the personal information of another internet message board contributor to the public simply because the aforementioned person had some less than flattering things to say about Cam Newton and Auburn University.

Brooks – The namesake of the sports related news site . Brooks is known for posting “more to the point” articles relating to sports matters across the United States. Brooks has a large following of which I must concede I am a part of.

Doug Goodwin – Russelville High School football coach until January 19th, 2011. He coached Calloway throughout his high school career. Goodwin was named the head coach at Homewood High School circa January 19th, 2011. Goodwin is a former Auburn University football player and alum. 

Now that we have the cast in place and have a little background on them, let’s see if we can nail anything down to Brook’s latest claims. Brook’s seems to think that Winston has unknowingly incriminated Woodruff by saying that Woodruff has helped with Calloway’s recruitment since his freshman year. He has supported this thought process by taking a statement made by Calloway that he transferred to Russellville High School to increase his chances at getting noticed by a major college. Brooks seems to think that these two statements have now branded Woodruff as a University of Alabama booster. I wholeheartedly disagree.

First off, a statement made by a teenager while a freshman in high school cannot be considered as bankable. When I was younger, I had delusions of grandeur about the possibilities of me playing for the Atlanta Braves. I may have even made that statement publicly to those that I went to school with, at church or other kids I played ball with. Sadly, my dream never came to fruition, but if it had; does my statement from years earlier mean that I knew it was going to happen? Of course it doesn’t. A lot of kids THINK they are going to be this or that when they get older only to find out that life’s circumstances get in the way. In other words Brooks, that part of your inference does not hold water for me.  
Secondly, the statement by Peaches Winston saying that Woodruff had been helping with Brent’s college recruiting since the 9th grade means absolutely zilch. There is no way you are going to get me to believe that as a 9th grader Woodruff, Goodwin or Winston could possibly know that Calloway was going to end up being a highly touted recruit. Sure there may have been signs that he could be, but there are way too many variables that could change the final outcome long before Calloway reached his senior year. He could have become a kid that got in with the wrong crowd and been kicked off the team as a freshman. He could have had a career ending injury as a sophomore. He could have just not developed in the mental aspect of the game to a point to where he was ever a factor even at the high school level. So, once again, your inference that Woodruff was acting as a “handler” for Calloway just doesn’t hold water. Woodruff was a family friend before Calloway and will be one after Calloway. Calloway’s choice to become part of that family endeared him to Woodruff as well. You can’t expect the elders in a kid’s life not to give valuable input on a kid’s future. Furthermore, Woodruff is less of an Alabama booster than I am as he gives no money to the University nor does he hold season tickets. These kids have real lives and will interact with adults. Those adults that genuinely care for the kid have a right to give advice in that kid’s best interest. Winston plainly said he would support Calloway if he went to Auburn as did Woodruff. As a matter of fact, I think Woodruff stated something to the effect of, “I am a Brent Calloway fan.” That doesn’t sound like someone pushing the kid anywhere. Winston simply wanted his son to honor his word as it relates to the original commitment he made to Alabama. He wants his son to do the right thing in the right way. From the tone of your two articles relating to all of this, it seems to me that you would have the kid either not listen to the advice of his family or better yet, let a coach that may actually have some underlying reason to steer a kid to a particular school play that role. Honestly, I don’t think you have looked at it from that point of view.

Speaking of coaches… Goodwin was still involved with Calloway’s recruitment after he was no longer the coach at Russellville High School. To me, that should be raising your eyebrows more than a documented relationship going back 4 years or so. Goodwin’s AU ties most likely had a good bit to do with Calloway’s flip from Alabama to Auburn in the first place.  At least it appears that way to me and many others from this neck of the woods. So, if you’re looking for a story, I suggest checking into that side of things. While you are at it, you might want to look into some of the other allegations floating around Calloway’s recruitment from the Auburn coaching staff. I’ll bet if you start digging in that hole, you’ll find more to write about than Calloway’s relationship with his father and a family friend. 

Add to all of this the fact that the writer that started the whole thing is less than credible. In your article inferring booster status to Woodruff, why didn’t you point out how everything else Lee claimed to be fact was debunked? Hard to pay a man’s mortgage off when that was done 15 years prior. Hard to produce a new car for a kid that rides the bus every day. We can go on and on here. Like I said, I am a fan of yours but in this instance I feel like you are reaching for a connection and I don’t understand why. Is it because you have been bombarded by Auburn supporters with emails calling you a Bammer or the like? Is it because you needed to get more clicks on your site to meet a quota of some kind? Just what is your reasoning here? I submit that you have lost focus on where the real issues may be.

The sad thing is this (and it doesn’t matter if you are an Alabama or an Auburn fan): This whole thing instigated by Jeff Lee has put the future of Brent Calloway in jeopardy. This was done simply because of Lee’s hatred of Alabama. If there is a wrong doing in this case on the Alabama side of things, I submit that it was done by Calloway’s family being ignorant of the NCAA’s multitude of selectively enforced bylaws regarding a prospect’s recruitment. I also submit that Lee’s actions will at most make Calloway ineligible before he has ever even enrolled at Alabama. So, Lee has tainted a kid and possibly ruined his entire future. Way to go Mr. Lee, I think you are better suited for the position of part time porn industry writer. 


Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 39 - It's Not Us.... It's YOU!!!

Yesterday morning, Jeff Lee (writer for the Auburn Rivals site) went on WNSP radio out of Mobile, Alabama with some very strong accusations leveled at the Crimson Tide’s recruitment of Brent Calloway. Well, I say they were strong, but mostly they were just accusations. The accusations were intended to be devastating and probably would have been had two things happened. One, they needed to be true and verified and Two, if they were true they should have not been let out before Calloway ever set foot on the Alabama campus to achieve maximum devastation. Mr. Lee went as far as to publicly discuss Calloway’s adoptive father (Peaches Winston) and his personal financial status. This is the same Jeff Lee who also leaked the personal information of a Florida State University message board ( poster because he had some unflattering things to say about Auburn University and Cam Newton. This is the same Jeff Lee who has pointed more fingers at Alabama than a 5 star recruit points towards the heavens after a Friday night slaughtering of a smaller high school. This is the same Jeff Lee that touts infinite knowledge of every wrong doing potentially surrounding the University of Alabama, yet he has missed more recruiting promises than the NCAA Hoops Championship game missed 3 pointers. This is the same Jeff Lee that promised a follow up to yesterday’s radio interview with WNSP, but didn’t bother to show up this morning. This is the same Jeff Lee that for some reason unknown on this earth that Au fans continue to support.

I have some questions about Lee’s reasoning more so than I do the accusations he made. The simple fact is that Calloway’s recruitment was crazy from the beginning of this last recruiting season. I’m not saying that there was not some wrong doing by some overzealous Alabama fan related to his recruitment. I’m not saying that simply because I don’t know for sure. It’s near impossible to police the overzealous fan. I can tell you that I 100% believe that Nick Saban, his coaches or anyone at the University of Alabama had anything to do with any of it. As a matter of fact, I heard some pretty earth shattering accusations leveled at Au regarding Calloway’s recruitment. Those allegations would put an alleged payment of $2500.00 to his dad and a new car to shame. Those allegations surpass breaking NCAA bylaws and cross right over into the criminal side of things. BUT…There’s a big difference in what I heard and what Jeff Lee has done. I didn’t get on a radio station and claim anything that I heard to be true. As a matter of fact, I have only alluded to possible improprieties without being specific as to the charges. Why? BECAUSE I DO NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE PUTTING SOMETHING OUT THERE THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE VALID!!!!!!!

I do find it odd that Calloway, after being a lifelong Alabama fan and a verbal commitment to the Tide for 9 months, suddenly changed his commitment. I do find it odd that when he changed it back to Alabama, all of these “LEELIKE” rumors started to make their rounds on internet message boards. I also find it odd that these rumors are surrounding a 4 star player that Alabama didn’t really need. Don’t get me wrong, Calloway is a real athlete. I have seen him play, but the simple fact is he was not very high on Alabama’s wish list, especially at the position he wants to play. Lastly, I find it odd that the rumors themselves could easily be tied back to every rumor I’ve heard about Alabama recruiting for the last 10 years. Just remove Calloway’s name and insert the name of any Alabama player you like. They all sound the same; only the names have been changed to incriminate the innocent. 

The one thing I guess I should take the time to do (just in case Lee's story happened to have a shred of truth in it) is thank Jeff Lee. Mr. Lee thank you for alerting the University of Alabama Compliance Department to possible issues concerning Brent Calloway's eligibility. Because you have thrown this stuff out so publicly and early, the University now has plenty of time to investigate and send it's findings to the NCAA long before Calloway ever becomes a student at the university. If some how you have managed to be correct on any of it, Alabama can stop it before any real damage is done. With enemies like you, who needs friends?

Here’s what I think: I think that it is possible that some rumblings I have heard regarding another big news story that is about to hit the plains have been heard by the likes of Jeff Lee. I think that this has scared the lunatic fringe Au faithful into being proactive by using their “Deflect, Deny and Deter” defense. In this case, it’s “Deflect and Deter.” For those of you who have been following the Au saga(s) closely, I’m sure you will all agree this is standard operating procedure of late. 

As for the big news story that may be about to hit. I heard that a certain writer with a track record for hitting these types of sports related big stories dead on is about ready to drop a bomb. I contacted this writer and while he was very polite in his response, he declined comment. He did say that he was aware of Jeff Lee’s actions yesterday and that those actions were Jeff Lee’s decision. This probably explains why people like Brooks ( feel like Lee’s constant reaffirming that it was not an “Alabama Alumni” or “Alabama Booster” during his radio interview was calculated so as to not open himself up for possible legal troubles. The problem is, he did that any way.  Due to time constraints I will not continue to pick apart all of the holes in Lee’s story. I’ll save that for a day that looks less appealing outside. 

So, I’ll leave you guys with this: It’s nice outside, the whole Alabama vs. Auburn rivalry is just getting ridiculous and gas prices are too high. I’m just counting the days until next Friday when I will embark on my annual trip to Tuscaloosa with my son to enjoy the A-day festivities. It’s our last chance for football until the fall. I love sports…. YAHOO…..YAHOO….YAHOO…YAHOO… YAHOO…..YAHOO….YAHOO YAHOO…..YAHOO….YAHOO…YAHOO… YAHOO…..YAHOO….YAHOO YAHOO…..YAHOO….YAHOO!!!!!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 32 - PAY THE KIDS!!!!

This past Wednesday night HBO aired a special regarding the state of college football. This program (I think) was intended to publicize the question of “Should college athletes be paid for their services?” After airing the interviews with the 4 former Auburn players, I believe the original intent of the program was derailed and rightfully so. The allegations made by the 4 former players further fueled what the majority of the college football world was already accusing Au of being involved in. It gave credence to the 100’s of message board posts, blog posts and media reports alluding to a long list of improprieties concerning Au’s athletic department. This entry will touch on a few thoughts regarding Au’s troubles, but the main focus will be on the problems surrounding the kids that really bring home the money for their respective schools.

Auburn Head Coach, Gene Chizic, made a statement calling the HBO special “one sided “and “pure garbage.” HBO promptly retaliated with (paraphrased) “We made numerous attempts to allow Au to give their side of the story. They declined.”  You would think that the Au Sports Information Department would at least give their football coach a “heads-up” that they were not commenting on the allegations. With the PR disaster that was already barreling full bore down South Donahue Drive, this is simply another layer of concrete behind the brick wall crossing the road. Come on guys, if you’re going to try to spin these things at least work together on it. What’s interesting here is that numerous reports have said that Au has sought “outside council” in the matter. If it’s all pure garbage…. If there is no investigation ongoing (as sooooo many of the Au faithful claim)…. If they really are an open book… Why would they garner any legal services at this juncture? I think that standard operating procedure at this point would be to notify the NCAA that the institution is launching an internal investigation and will apprise the NCAA of that investigation’s findings when concluded. LSU was accused of a booster being involved in the HBO program and they did just that. What’s the point of the 3rd party council? This is purely a guess as I have not investigated who the 3rd party council is, but I bet a hand shined nickel that the firm is also representing someone involved in the Colonial Bank trials, the Bingogate trials or the Cam Newton scandal. I wouldn’t be surprised if this legal firm is not involved in all three scenarios.

As I said in a previous entry, what the former players had to say screams for attention from the NCAA. I suspect that attention was already being given, but now the NCAA will have to be a bit more public about it all. Already, there have been statements swirling around that they want to talk to the players. I’m sure it was for legal reasons that HBO did not air the name of the coach known now as “the Mailman”, but I have no doubt that the name was given to HBO by the former Au players. If that’s the case, you can bet your bottom dollar that the NCAA will be talking to him. Garnered from doing a little bit of internet sleuthing, I have determined that “the Mailman” is still coaching football, but not at Au. If I am correct in whom I think “the Mailman” is, he might sing and sing loud. If I’m correct, his departure from the plains was not all sweet and rosy. Add to that the assumption that his career in athletics may very well be on the line and you have the recipe for more rebar to be added to my aforementioned wall.

On to the kids… In all honesty, (with the exception of the Au player that was being given “mail” by the coach) the $100.00 handshakes is something that Au Coaches (or any other coaching staff for that matter) cannot control. If I wanted to go give a player that I didn’t know a C-note or two, I could do it and nobody would be the wiser of it. Even the player wouldn’t have a clue as to who I was. This type of thing happens and happens everywhere. While I think it is a stupid thing for any fan of any school to do, I just don’t see any way that could be policed. The fact that a coach was involved in the AU allegations is what will be more bad news for them.

I have seen many different reasons to pay or not to pay college athletes. Let’s look at a few of the better arguments out there. If forced to take a stance on this, I am going to fall into the “PAY THE KIDS” crowd, but I do understand the proponents of the other side. 

1.)  DON’T PAY THEM – The main reason we hear that kids should not be paid is that they are there for an education. They get a free ride to school, they get free meals and they get free housing. In many people’s eyes that should be enough. I disagree for a number of reasons and I’ll expand on a few of them. It is correct that the kids are there to get an education, but that is not the reality of the situation. College athletics is big money and these kids are expected to produce at a certain level to maintain their scholarships. If that is the case, how can you fault a kid for spending more time than he should on the athletic side of things? At that point in their young lives, that scholarship is their ticket, their livelihood. It doesn’t matter if that is right or wrong, it is what it is. Furthermore, these kids cannot work the normal part-time jobs that most college students can work. Their schedules do not allow for it and even if they did, the coaches would expect them to be doing something related to their sport instead of working.

Another reason for not paying them is that lower level athletic programs and the athletic programs of smaller schools often operate in the red. How much money are you going to pay the kids at Alabama that are on the Under Water Basket Weaving team or the Cross Country Wrestling team? Does the catcher on the Girls’ Softball team get the same money as the star quarterback? Where does this money come from and what about the schools that are already operating in the red?

2.)  PAY THEM - If you take into consideration the Tyrone Prothro segment of the HBO special and his obvious surprise at the $125 million that Bama made while he was the star of the football team, you have to think, “How can this be fair?” Given what ended up happening to Prothro, you would think that he could get something….anything… to help him out down the road. Sure Prothro’s example is little different, but I think it should extend to the kid that is the O-lineman on the scout team as well.

Let’s looks at some of the numbers in a very loose fashion and see if it is even plausible to pay that kid from the cross country wrestling team? I called the University of Alabama and was given a number of roughly, on average, 600 student athletes on campus at any given time. This includes men and women, scholarship athletes and walk-ons. The University of Idaho has roughly 400 student athletes. Alabama being a larger school, Idaho being a smaller one I’ll just use 500 as the number on average.

If we paid each of the 500 kids $1200.00 per month in addition to their existing scholarship benefits, that would bring the total yearly expense (or payroll) to roughly $7.2 million for the entire athletic program. Of course there is a lot more to this than just these numbers, but there is also a lot more to the figure HBO spouted off of $125 million during Prothro’s career. There are tons and tons of dollars that are generated by everything from hat sales, to speaking engagements to media rights that Alabama makes money off of. In short, $7.2 million is a drop in the bucket. Alabama could pay their kids and all of the kid’s at Vandy too. Florida could pay all of their kids and the kids at Ole Miss too. And so on and so on. The cash cow schools could easily aid the other schools in their conference in this regard. Heck they already have the system partially set up with the bowl sharing that is distributed via the SEC. So, I think it could be done. Furthermore, I contend that Bowl’s themselves should be forced to contribute to the payroll account of the schools that are playing in their bowl. I see no reason for the big wig at the Fiesta Bowl to make $650K a year. Cut his pay, and donate it to the kitty. Overall, we are talking millions and millions of dollars being made off of these kids and they do not get a dime of that money.

We have established that these kids can’t work and can’t get paid, but the Universities are allowed to use their likeness, their media footage and anything else they can squeeze a dime out of. It just isn’t right. Especially when you look at someone like Tyrone Prothro who literally left everything he had on the field at Bryant Denny Stadium. We have also now established that paying every kid in college athletics is also feasible. Let’s take it a step further now.

I think this scenario should also be looked at. I’m going to use Julio Jones as he was a big time recruit coming out of high school and is obviously going to go early in the NFL draft. Another reason to use Julio is he came out of college early. Why? Simple, MONEY! We can’t expect Julio to stay and risk being injured and losing his shot at all of those dollars. So, Julio foregoes his senior year and his diploma in hopes of cashing in at the 1st bank of the NFL. I would too if I were in his shoes, but I digress. What if when Julio went through the pre-eligibility process when coming to Alabama and at the point where he signed on for his aforementioned $1200.00 per month he had an option. He knew when he came out of high school that he had the tools to make something off of his talents. He just wasn’t allowed to put them into play because of the NCAA restrictions. What if Julio had been given the opportunity to forego his $1200.00 per month and (with the blessing of the NCAA) take his chance with an agent to handle all of the marketing of his persona? It would be Julio’s gamble that he could pick the right guy and make money off of it, but at least he would have had some say in all of it. Makes too much sense doesn’t it? That’s probably exactly why it will never happen.

Big money means big corruption and college athletics is up to its neck in both. Something is going to have to be done sooner rather than later otherwise the problem is only going to worsen. There are other viable solutions out there as well and I may hit on those in some upcoming posts. In a world of $5 million dollar coaches, million dollar assistants, million dollar bowl representatives we can afford to .... PAY THE KIDS!