HBO is planning to air an episode of its Real Sports series next month titled "State of College Sports in America." That much is known.
Information about it is leaking out through various media sources, and it is going to be heavy on SEC talk. Specifically, it will spend a significant amount of time discussing Cam Newton and Auburn.
The first I heard of the special was last week after John Bond appeared on a Huntsville, Alabama sports talk show hosted by Scott Moore and William Barger. Bond said he'd been contacted by HBO for the episode and explained that it would not be about oversigning. Bond is, as you remember, the Mississippi State booster who initially turned Cecil Newton in to the MSU athletics department over his asking for money.
Last night on their show, Moore and Barger expounded on what they knew about the HBO special based on what Bond had told them. HBO had contacted Bond and Bill Bell, the other MSU booster involved, to be a part of the episode. Bond claims HBO has a "bombshell" related to Auburn and would only share it with the cooperation of Bond, Bell, and MSU Athletics Director Scott Stricklin. While Bond met with the program off the record twice, he and Bell won't go on the record for now at Stricklin's request.
Bond believes that Kenny Rogers, who Cecil Newton used as an associate in his money requests, will appear on the show and already is lining up a book deal.
The Fox affiliate in Tuscaloosa chimed in a little while back, saying it saw HBO's crews interviewing former Alabama receiver Tyrone Prothro. Prothro allegedly was approached by a runner for agent Raymond Savage while in the hospital after his gruesome leg injury, an action that got Savage arrested last week for breaking Alabama's sports agent laws.
The Fox station also got word from University of Alabama Media Relations that the HBO crew had asked to interview the school's president Robert Witt about college athletics and paying players in particular. The school says Witt was not available for the interview.
Going from primary sources to an anonymous source, Brooks of SPORTSbyBROOKS has a little birdie telling him that former Auburn player Stanley McClover will appear on the program and say that he received impermissible benefits from a former Auburn assistant coach. Because the alleged wrongdoing last happened no later than during the 2005 season, it falls out of the NCAA's statute of limitations.
Brooks also says that HBO did sit down with Rogers and that the interview occurred this week.
Finally, Chuck Oliver is saying that the episode will entirely be about the SEC and that a former Alabama player is willing to come on the program to allege that he got benefits too. Oliver calls his information unconfirmed rumor, so take that for what you will.
So in summary, it sounds like HBO is planning a fairly big program about cheating in college sports, and the SEC will be front and center throughout. If you thought the reverberations from the Cam Newton story were over, it sure looks like HBO will prove you wrong.
There's a reason why I put the SbB stuff after the jump and off the main page. It seemed a little sketchy, and now Brooks is claiming that McClover is backing off his claims. Brooks' source says HBO paid McClover for the interview, and that McClover's high school coach disputed the claims that McClover got cash. HBO is supposedly now debating whether to include that bit in the show.
HBO is now denying having ever paid for McClover's interview. This kind of crap is why we normally keep rumors off the site. I didn't think HBO engaged in checkbook journalism, so it's nice to get confirmation that it doesn't.