After throwing out a fairly unsubstantiated accusation of foul play in the recruitment of Alabama signee Brent Calloway last week, AuburnSports.com publisher Jeffrey Lee has put out a sourced account of Calloway's last few days leading up to signing day.
In it Lee leaves out most of his accusations from last week, including those involving money and a supposedly suspicious car. Instead, it focuses on the relationships between Calloway, his adopted father Harland Winston, and Winston's friend Darren Woodruff. Woodruff is a businessman in Calloway's home town of Russelville, Alabama who, while described as an Alabama fan, is not a booster or alum of the school.
It includes plenty of quotes from a friend of Woodruff's named John Stancil and Calloway's high school coach Doug Goodwin, so it's better put together than Lee's anonymously-sourced radio interview of last week. The catch though is that there is not an explicit violation contained in the story.
It's quite clear that Winston wanted his son to attend Alabama. That was evident months ago when he publicly questioned Calloway's switch from being committed to Bama to Auburn. The only added evidence to that is Calloway's text message to his coach saying that Winston was forcing him to visit Tuscaloosa the weekend before signing day.
If a violation of some sort did occur, it would be in the fact that Woodruff took Calloway to Pensacola for the Monday and Tuesday before signing day. His high school principal personally excused him from school, so that's not the issue. It's that Woodruff might have worked to steer Calloway to sign with Alabama on that trip. If Woodruff was both found to have done so and be a representative of the university, then that would be an NCAA violation.
There are two problems with that. First, Woodruff is not an alumnus, booster, or season ticket holder at Alabama. He doesn't fit any of the definitions of being a university representative, except for the one about providing an "extra benefit" in the form of transportation. However, his 20-year friendship with Winston and four-year relationship with Calloway mean he has a "pre-established relationship" with the family, which allows him more leeway. As long as no one at Alabama arranged any of the trips and Woodruff didn't press him to go to Alabama, he's in the clear. Second, no one other than Calloway and Woodruff appear to have been on this Pensacola trip, meaning that no funny business can be proven unless one of them confesses.
Nothing that Woodruff has said publicly would indict him for steering Calloway to Tuscaloosa, though according to Stancil, Woodruff took Calloway to a number of Alabama home football games (and only Alabama games) during his junior year. Even that could be explained away given that Tuscaloosa is simply the closest SEC town to Russellville, and Calloway would be seeing the visiting teams play too.
Regardless of the added sourcing, this article scales back Lee's accusations from a pay-for-play scandal to a mere potential recruiting violation. I doubt we'll hear much more out of this from here on out unless Lee can find some better sources.
It's been pointed out to me by an email tipster, and I've seen other places, that Stancil is an Auburn fan. While that should be taken into account, it doesn't automatically disqualify his statements any more than Woodruff's Alabama fandom disqualifies his.
I've also seen it pointed out that Goodwin is an Auburn graduate. Again, that doesn't necessarily discount what he said. It does, however, raise the possibility that Calloway's text message about his father forcing him to go to Tuscaloosa on that last weekend was merely a young guy telling his coach what he thought he wanted to hear.