DJ Fluker story shows times are tough at Alabama

Times must be tough in Tuscaloosa. There is plenty of bling in the trophy case, but apparently, not much is making its way to the players if we can judge based on the latest allegations involving DJ Fluker receiving illegal benefits from an agent.

In the past, the allegations of illegal benefits involving Alabama football players were much more interesting and had a higher price tag. Remember the days of Dodge Chargers? Now all players get are lame furniture from Sticks N Stuff and $500 via Western Union.

Are we paying Nick Saban too much? Have we increased his suit allowance and that puts a damper on what we can spend on players?

In all seriousness, the story is bad for the University of Alabama, the SEC, college football and Yahoo.

It is bad for Alabama because the refrain from lame Auburn fans (who deliriously believe Auburn didn’t buy Cam Newton when his father admitted to shopping his services to another SEC school) and other jealous haters around the nation will be that Alabama cheated. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Alabama cheated. There was no institutional involvement. There is no evidence of a lack of institutional control or even a failure to monitor.

Of course, evidence could arise that changes that. However, as we’ve learned since the Dodge Charger and Gadsden days, those possibilities are rare—about as rare as an Auburn SEC win in 2012.

This story is bad for the SEC because it tarnishes the conference’s stirling record of compliance. No conference since the SWC could boast such a fine record of compliance with NCAA rules. This story is bad for college football because the greatest thing to happen to modern football is the possibility of a dynasty. It inspires other teams to become more competitive and motivates interest, which means it is good for ratings and the bottomline.

The Yahoo story itself is a nice job of investigative reporting. The information presented is explained, detailed and documented very nicely. It gives readers a chance to contemplate the information.

However, Pat Forde’s immature and petulant column posted late last night overshadowed that strong Yahoo editorial work. Forde took shots at Saban over his press conference demeanor and then blasted ESPN.

Forde’s attack on Saban is pathetic because Forde tried to make Saban’s behavior into something special.

Yet, this is how Saban normally responds when he doesn’t get his way in the press room. Ask Saban a dumb question, or ask a question more than once, and you get to see the side of Saban that obviously, “doesn’t have time for this stuff.”™

What was most interesting to me was this line regarding ESPN, “On the sideline, ESPN reporter Shannon Spake was doing a live stand-up via satellite – part of a week of buddy-buddy ESPN insider coverage of one of its most powerful and lucrative broadcast partners.”

Buddy-Buddy ESPN insider coverage? Jealous much Forde?

Perhaps you benefited from the Worldwide Leader’s editorial supervision.

There is a clear editorial rivalry developing between some of these want-to-be organizations and the sporting world’s most dominant media player. Ordinarily, that type of rivalry is a good thing and helps generate substantially useful investigative reporting like the main Yahoo story. Yet, at times, it reveals the pettier nature of people like Forde.