“But this happens everywhere!”
Countless fans and media members have taken that stance this week, scoffing and whining at any word written by Thayer Evans and George Dohrmann in their scathing report on the alleged improprieties within the Oklahoma State football program during the Les Miles era.
A few rogue former Cowboys players came forward to disparage claims Sports Illustrated made. An ESPN report surfaced on Thursday documenting discrepancies in Fath’ Carter’s statements given to the magazine.
Now it appears Monday morning quarterbacks have all the ammo they need to pile on two reporters (one of whom has a Pulitzer Prize) and a renowned magazine. The same critics who forget there are more than 50 players named in the report and don’t know the authentication the magazine went through in the ten months it worked on the expose.
And they may forget the claims that have been made: Grade fixing. Hiring unqualified academic help. Cocaine use. Illicit payments.
But it’s a problem everywhere, so go ‘Pokes, right?
The most basic fact of the report is going unnoticed and unspoken. Whether the SI allegations pertain to all 120 FBS programs or not, they’re still illegal – according to both NCAA law and, in some instances, federal law too.
So if I’m to follow this trend of shrugging off the report simply on that basis, I’m consenting to the fact that because everyone does it, it’s okay. I’m also admitting since every program does it, LSU has to be included in there.
Self-incrimination. Love Purple, Live Gold, right Tiger fans?
But amidst the bellowing and rationalizing going on this week, what’s been overlooked is Miles’ brilliant handling of the situation.
Miles’ zany ways of interacting with the media have been well documented, but this week is perhaps his greatest since before the 2007 Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
I called Joe Alleva for comment when part one of SI’s claim dropped. His receptionist sternly told me he would make no comment on the situation. Sports information director Michael Bonnette told me the school wouldn’t comment until all parts were released and reviewed — which is without a doubt the right move.
Nevertheless, Miles kept all of his customary media commitments as his name was dragged and buried in the mud. He came out firing to open the SEC Teleconference on Wednesday morning, addressing the issue candidly and unprovoked in his opening statement.
He followed with his routine meeting with local reporters
Wednesday evening following practice. After the first two questions centered on actual football, a five-question barrage was tossed his way concerning the allegations.
As reporters peppered him, I noticed a change in Miles’ demeanor. He was forthright and calculated. It was noticeable the allegations troubled him as his voice grew lower and more concerned.
Although it was the last thing he wanted to talk about, Miles did what a lesser man wouldn’t — he answered. Directly and honestly, Miles told us everything he knew and how he was holding up as his reputation was slowly being sullied.
It reaffirmed the charisma of a man who is easily misunderstood. Instead of cowering behind a PR firm or releasing a statement he more than likely didn’t write, Miles confronted the issue head on. He verbalized his confusion as only he could, acknowledged he “wasn’t there at every place all of the time.”
He didn’t go in-depth. Didn’t give the lurid details. But he did enough for me to know this issue won’t go away anytime soon and Miles won’t go down without a fight.
For that, he should be commended.