While last night's HBO program wasn't on the level of David Stanley showing off his mail from SMU or Eric Ramsey playing his tapes of Pat Dye, it still was one of those moments where a scandal went mainstream. There is a full-on crisis going on at Auburn no matter how you look at it.
While plenty of former players are coming to the school's defense, it will take more than that to clean up the school's image. Some of their statements, like Lee Ziemba's claim that former players are trying to "bring our past season down," are counterproductive if anything given that no other school has run into similar trouble after national titles despite having disgruntled former players. It also hurts Auburn's cause that some of the people involved in the school's 20-year-old pay-for-play scandal, like Dye and Bobby Lowder, are still working there.
So where do we go from here?
Auburn will investigate.
Both Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs and President Jay Gogue released statements last night saying that the school would investigate the allegations of the four former players. I don't know what else they could have said, but they do indicate that they'll be on the case.
The NCAA will investigate.
The Auburn players didn't name any names last night because they had no hard evidence as proof. They did give some names to HBO, but in the absence of hard proof, the network chose not to air any. You can be sure that they will give those names to the NCAA. In addition, Chaz Ramsey has been putting other allegations about impermissible benefits for Auburn players on his closed Twitter feed since November that he didn't mention last night.
The media will continue to investigate.
There's some serious blood in the water now, and any investigative journalist with a college beat is going to be prying into these stories. Not only do we have an expansion of the money-related scandal surrounding Auburn, but Ramsey and Troy Reddick have opened (reopened?) the door for investigating Auburn football player academics.
Get used to the term "street agent."
Also breaking last night was ESPN's report that Will Lyles tried to shake down Texas A&M for at least $80,000 in the recruitment of Patrick Peterson. Recruitocosm has a good article from last December about street agents, highlighting Lyles and Baron Flenory. Those are the two guys who are involved in the street agent scandal at Oregon.
While no one connected with Lyles or Flenory have gone to Auburn, Lache Seastrunk almost did. The street agent who Auburn folks should really be concerned about is Sean Nelson, who was involved in the recruitment of Trovon Reed and Greg Robinson. It's a nationwide issue, but between Lyles, Nelson, and Brian Butler (remember Bryce Brown at Tennessee?), it's an SEC issue too. I feel like I'm forgetting one guy though...
Don't expect to hear the end of the Cam Newton story any time soon.
Three different organizations are investigating Newton's recruitment at Mississippi State: the NCAA, the FBI, and the state of Mississippi. The NCAA is investigating his recruitment at Auburn too. I am fairly certain that there are media people still digging on it. Rogers is out there still, and it's only a matter of time before someone like TMZ or Gawker pays him for his story.
If last year's offseason was all about conference realignment, this year's will be about these kinds of scandals. It's still early yet, and I can only imagine what more is coming.