There's a convenient fall guy for all this. The easiest way for Les Miles and, to a lesser extent, Oklahoma State to get out of this is if they can pin it on someone else. (And for the record, that doesn't mean that someone else doesn't deserve to have it all pinned on them; if a fall guy is responsible for what is going on, he deserves to take the fall.) Like Year2, I'm going to try to be judicious in the excerpts I use, and you should really read the entire story to decide for yourself what you think.
Those payments, which stretched from 2001 to at least '11, were primarily delivered three ways: a de facto bonus system based on performances on the field, managed by an assistant coach ...
Echoing his teammates' claim, Girtman says the rates were told to him by assistant Joe DeForest, who ran the special teams and secondary under coach Les Miles from 2001 to '04, and was the associate head coach, special teams coordinator and safeties coach under current coach Mike Gundy from 2005 to '11. [Emphasis added.]
I can see a scenario where Miles and Oklahoma State blame this all on DeForest -- who denies it -- and the whole thing essentially dies. Maybe DeForest gets a show-cause, maybe Oklahoma State gets some half-hearted sanctions. But after that, everybody agrees to pack it up and move on.
There's only one place where Miles is sort of connected to a violation. Miles appears frequently in the article, though not as frequently as you might think, and only one place where I see that he is possibly tied to a violation. If this is true, Miles is at worst responsible for steering a recruit to a situation where he knew something against the rules was about to happen, and at best responsible for being ignorant to what was going on -- but in either case likely isn't directly implicated in the actual payment.
Early in his first season Shaw says he went to Miles and told him he needed a car to get to his classes. Shaw says Miles replied, "I can lead you to where you can get some help." Shortly after, Shaw says, he was introduced to Kay Norris, an Oklahoma State graduate affectionately called Momma Norris, who ran the school's athletic museum on campus, Heritage Hall. ... He says that Norris paid him $400 to take a Christmas tree out of her attic, and that numerous times she paid him $700 to clean the floorboards of rental houses.
Norris later died, which means we're not getting her side of the story and that it could also be difficult for any investigation to confirm any of this (forgive me for sounding crass). It certainly makes it easier for Miles and Oklahoma State to make the case that they didn't know that any of this is happening, because no one is there to contradict them.
The journalism here isn't shoddy. I get that a number of fan bases don't like Thayer Evans for a variety of reasons. But there are a few things I think we all need to keep in mind when trying to assess the veracity of this report.
First, the lion's share of the allegations in this report are on the record. Some of them come from players who admit to taking money when they were in school. This is not a piece full of anonymous sources who tell Sports Illustrated something, sometimes without even being in the room. (Yes, Joe Schad, that was pointed at you.) That's important, because on-the-record sources can speak out if they think they were misquoted or misrepresented.
Second, Evans isn't alone on this one. George Dohrmann appears to have been a major figure in the Sports Illustrated investigation, and he's a Pulitzer Prize winner and well respected in the business, from everything I can tell. It looks like the Oklahoma State athletics director agrees with that assessment.
Sports Illustrated sent two very capable people in here to talk to us last week. George Dohrmann, who is a writer on the story, he did win a Pulitzer Prize. The Investigative Editor, I had never met one of those before, his name was B.J. Schecter. He was an impressive young man. They believe that what they're about to write is true. As the athletic director at Oklahoma State and an alumnus of the university, I don't want to believe that it's true;
That's not the quote of someone who thinks that the reporters are out to get him or that this is a hit piece. Notice that Evans is not the guy that was sent to the meeting with Oklahoma State. As a journalist, I can say with some confidence that if he was the lead reporter on the story, it would be extraordinarily unusual for Sports Illustrated to not send him to this meeting. (Of course, Oklahoma State could be trying to pin this all on Miles, so we could get to a point where the interests of the school and the former coach diverge.)
Finally, it appears that Oklahoma State and the NCAA are going to look into it, based on the statement they've now issued. This is not something you do if you think there's absolutely no evidence, though we've seen from the Newton and Manziel investigations that you can turn up a lot less than there seemed to be or nothing at all.
And, of course, there are four more installments left. We can see what happens then. For now, though, denials are coming in from all over.
Folks gonna believe whatever they want. I'm not trying to convince nobody. But I do know while I was in school no one took no extras— tatum bell (@tspeedtx) September 10, 2013
We'll see what the rest of the series brings.