Getting beyond Auburn’s cheating

If the SEC and the NCAA want to cleanup the slime of recruiting, the organizations should focus less on oversigning and more on the recruiting sites and how they function as propaganda machines for the schools they cover.

The focus today will rightly be on whether Auburn cheated or not during a staged pep rally event for recruits; however, some focus should be on the alleged complicit way the Auburn Rivals.com site behaved in this matter.

The Auburn Rivals affiliate, Auburnsports.com, posted a video of the event at Toomer’s Corner, and then edited the video, according to numerous people who saw both videos. Fans who saw both copies posted at Rivals.com allege the parts removed from the video were the most damning, to wit, the recruits names being called out for the fans.

Independent media and more importantly regulators should ask, why the Auburn fan site edited the video AFTER the first questions were raised about the recruiting violations?

Did Auburn coaches contact the site asking for the editing? If not, what else prompted this? Was it the individual bias of the site’s publishers?

Either case is a threat to the editorial integrity of the entire Rivals.com brand. The model where team sites are run by essentially fans is good for grabbing cash from subscribers, but it is a horrible model for editorial independence. When these types of activities take place, the website is acting more as a booster and less as a media outlet.

Coaches already complain about the lack of integrity in these recruiting services. According to South Carolina coach Brad Lawing quoted in The State, “I can take a three-star and make him a four-star, and I can take a four-star and make him a three- or two-star with the contacts I have,” Lawing said. “That’s how ridiculous recruiting on the Internet is. I took Chris Culliver (USC safety) from a three- to a five-star in three weeks. All you’ve got to do is talk to the right people.”

Will the NCAA do the right thing and consider regulations against this type of inappropriate conduct? I’m not going to hold my breath, but something has to be done about this type of activity.