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Breaking Down the Claims of the Auburn Four

As has been discussed here already today, four former Auburn players allege that they got impermissible benefits before and during their college careers. Let's break this thing down.

Which schools are involved?

Auburn, obviously, is the one coming off the worst, but Ohio State isn't too far behind. Stanley McClover claims he got "money handshakes" from an LSU booster and someone from Michigan State, but no one seems to be concerned about that much. Hundred dollar handshakes are about as old as college football itself, and as long as we have college football and tangible currency, they will continue to happen.

What about Ohio State, now?

McClover claims he got money handshakes from OSU boosters too, but he also talks of sex being used to entice him to come to Columbus. While his recruiter at OSU denied that claim to HBO, Colorado was busted for using sex parties in recruiting a few years back. It's not unheard of.

What's the worst claim against Auburn?

It depends on your definition of "worst." From an NCAA standpoint, the honor goes to Troy Reddick's story of an assistant coach giving him hundreds of dollars in an envelope nearly a dozen times across two years. Most of everything else involved boosters, who a school can throw under the bus by dissociating, calling them "rogue boosters," and so forth. Having a coach in on the money scheme is how things go nuclear with the NCAA.

What else could compete with that?

Reddick claimed that coaches pressured him to change majors so that his classes wouldn't compete with football practice for his time, and he did switch majors. Reddick's career ended in 2005, which puts him there during the time that an academics scandal surrounding Auburn football was brewing. While most of that had to do with the sociology department, Reddick majored in building science according to his Auburn and CBS NFL draft bios.

What are the other claims?

The worst of the rest is that McClover says he knew a booster who would give him money whenever he asked. Specifically, he says got $7,000 in a backpack in order to buy a car. Chaz Ramsey alleges getting money handshakes after games and being able to sell tickets for big money, and Raven Gray alleges that Auburn-affiliated people gave him thousands of dollars while he was in junior college in order to entice him to come to the Plains.

All of the money purported to have changed hands was cash, and only Reddick claims to have gotten any from someone employed by Auburn. That means that these claims will all be difficult to prove, and surely if they happened, that was by design.

After all the stories about Cam Newton being highlighted in this special back in February, why wasn't he included?

Andrea Kremer appeared on Dan Patrick's radio show today, and she explained why. She says she had some "inroads" on the story, but HBO "pulled the plug" because someone she was going to interview asked for money for the interview. HBO has a policy against paying for interviews, so that was that. She stressed that the money request was "an issue, not the only issue," but she didn't say what the other issues were and didn't identify who asked to be paid.

Auburn denies everything, right?

Actually, no. Auburn has issued a "no comment" on the matter. So has Tommy Tuberville.

Several former players have come to the school's defense, however, including T.J. Jackson and recently-graduated linemen Lee Ziemba and Ryan Pugh. I have no reason to believe that those three are lying when they said they weren't paid, but at the same time, not even every SMU player back in the '80s got paid to play. It's admirable that they're sticking up for their alma mater, but their words prove nothing in this regard.

Why did these guys speak up now?

My best guess: because someone asked them to. Ramsey sued the school over his career-ending injury, saying they pushed him to do too much too soon, but none of the other former players have a real ax to grind.