5 at 10: Pay-for-Play allegations at Auburn, Cam Newton comparisons and the Braves begin

5 at 10: Pay-for-Play allegations at Auburn, Cam Newton comparisons and the Braves begin

March 31st, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

Don't forget about the Friday mailbag, and we're always looking for questions from the gang.

Here we go.

This Aug. 2, 2008 photo shows Auburn football player Raven Gray during drills in Birmingham, Ala. Four former Auburn players have told HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" that they received thousands of dollars while being recruited by or playing for the Tigers. Stanley McClover, Troy Reddick, Chaz Ramsey and Gray made the allegations in an episode of the show airing Wednesday night March 30, 2011. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Michelle Williams)

This Aug. 2, 2008 photo shows Auburn football...

Tigers' tales of payments

Four former Auburn football players talked openly to HBO Sports about being paid by boosters and coaches during their recruitment and during their football career with the Tigers. The hour-long show that aired Wednesday focused on the NCAA, and former Tigers Stanley McClover, Troy Reddick, Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray each talked about receiving money - mostly in handshakes from boosters.

The dichotomy of questions bounce from each side and from each point of view:

- What's the motivation of these four? There's some negative history with Reddick (who allegedly was denied a job within Auburn's program after his NFL career did not take off) and Ramsey (who recently had his lawsuit thrown out; he tried to sue the school and some of its previous staff for trying to rush him back into action after he suffered a back injury that ended his career). But if your asking what's their motivation, then it's also fair to ask why would they make up stories and lie on a nationally broadcast cable show?

- Why not use any of the dozens of former Auburn players that have come forward in recent days in other news stories and on social media saying they never received a dime? Current Auburn coach Gene Chizik said several Auburn players were interviewed and said they were not paid, but those interviews were not used. The 5-at-10 does not know if that actually happened or not, but the balance actually would have made the story stronger. Former Auburn safety Junior Rosegreen's voice jumped out of the AP story:

McClover's 2004 teammate Junior Rosegreen, who also went to Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said McClover bought the car with money from a Pell Grant and that it didn't cost $7,000.

"That is bogus," said Rosegreen, who called McClover "a d--- storyteller."

- What will become of this? The NCAA, the SEC and Auburn - and even LSU, Michigan State and Ohio State, the other schools McClover said gave him money and or improper benefits during his recruitment - have said they are looking into the matter. The NCAA statue of limitations is four years, but there are plenty of clauses that say things like "pattern of behavior" that offer more than enough room to investigate and even punish Auburn and possibly the other schools after the fact.

- What will be the lasting effect? If the four players do not name names (they did not name specific individuals on the HBO show) or have tapes or something, NCAA violations will be tough to prove. At the very least, though, this is another massive black eye for the Auburn program, which is just six months removed from the Cam Newton "pay-for-play" claims and stories that dominated the last two months of the 2010 college football season.

At the very least, it's fair to say the Tigers currently have an image problem, and at worst in terms of general public perception, Auburn currently ranks close to the levels of those 1980s Miami Hurricanes teams that coined the term, "The U."

Maybe the Tigers will embrace the term "The A.U."

At least there's that. War Investigation.

Paying college players

The first half of the HBO special last night was about whether NCAA players should be paid.

The HBO folks talked to former Alabama receiver Tyrone Prothro (who's grab against Southern Miss still ranks as the best catch in the history of the free world) and former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon.

The reporting on this story was short-sighted and, in truth, poor.

The entire narrative was about how much money the power programs (Alabama football, Michigan football, Kentucky basektball, UCLA basketball) make in the power sports, and those programs do make a lot of coin. But those programs also pay for the rest of the sports programs at every universities.

The system needs some adjustments, there's no doubt, but paying players could be among the worst solutions.

First, if you pay players from the money sports, you'll have to pay every other athlete in every other sport. That's the fundamental essence of Title IX. OK, if your answer is to only pay players from programs that actually make money, well, if you think there are inherit recruiting advantages between say a football power program and a middle-of-the road program, well, start paying the players at the power program, and see how many four- and five-stars are lining up to sit the bench in the SEC rather than going to a mid-major.

In fact if the programs that make money are allowed to pay players, then the other athletic programs will either be shut down or downgraded to some version of an Ivy League, nonscholarship league.

O'Bannon is suing the NCAA and EA Sports, the makers of a video games that use the likenesses of players. The first steps to getting some compensation for the football and basketball players will be setting aside profits from video games and/or jersey sales. Maybe put that in a pool for all the players in the video game and for the specific players in regard to jersey sales that will be paid upon graduation. That would be a start.

There needs to be changes, but it is in no way as easy as saying, "They need to pay the players."

Now if the NCAA wants to cut some checks to the author of a family-oriented-Intertube-web-based-sports column, well, that's an idea worth exploring.

Atlanta Braves starter Tim Hudson wipes his face a he works against the San Francisco Giants during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010, at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Braves won 3-0. (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Atlanta Braves starter Tim Hudson wipes his face...

Braves predictions

The 2011 baseball season starts today. The 5-at-10 has not been this excited about the start of baseball season in a long time. There's no real reason and/or explanation for it, it just feels right and exciting that baseball's here, you know?

Anyhoo, your Atlanta Braves have a roster that can contend for prizes and awards: There are long shots for a possible Cy Young (Tim Hudson) or MVP (Jason Heyward/Brian McCann) and the front-runners for comeback player of the year are in centerfield (Nate McLouth) and third base (Chipper Jones).

But if these Braves are going to contend for the NL East and into the postseason, the biggest/most telling prize of the year would be if Fredi Gonzalez is on the short list for NL managers of the year.

If Fredi can guide this club - the 5-at-10 believes he will be fine, by the way - the talent is apparent and spread across the board. The lineup is strong, the rotation is good and could be great and the relatively young bullpen is deep and talented.

Everybody in the free world has the Philadelphia Phillies as the dominant favorite in the East and to represent the NL in the World Series. Hogwash. The 5-at-10 thinks these Braves win the East, especially with all the Phillies' injuries, and then let the chips fall where they may in the postseason.

Now, if the injury bug lands in the metro-Atlanta area, all bets are off, because this Braves team is thin. Kate Moss thin. Mantue Bol thin. Paper ma... well, you get the idea - there's not a lot of everyday options on the bench or ready in the bushes.

Let's get it going.

Cam Newton

Cam Newton

Shouldn't it have been April's Fools Day?

If you had March 31 in the pool about when someone was going to use the, "It's just like the Cam Newton-thing," in an answer to questions about shady recruiting rumors/innuendos/tactics/whatever, well, you're a winner, and you can take you ticket to the nearest usher.

ESPN is reporting that Van Malone, a former Texas A&M assistant coach, said that Willie Lyles told him that the Aggies would have to beat $80,000 if they wanted to sign Patrick Peterson in 2007. Yes, that's the same Willie Lyles that was a "mentor" to former five-star recruit Lache Seastrunk. Yes, it's the same Willie Lyles that runs a recruiting service that was used by Oregon for the fee of $25,000. And yes, Seastrunk signed with Oregon in 2010. (Side note: Earlier this month SportTalk's Dr. B - he's a doctor after all - said prophetically that the fact that his name was "Willie Lyles" just sounded shady. Now, if there's a Willie Lyles in Hixson, and your reading this, we're sure he's not talking about you. Let's just move on.)

Anyhoo, Peterson eventually signed with LSU, became an All-American and will be a top-five draft pick next month. And here was how Peterson's dad, Patrick Peterson Sr., answered those claims.

"This is my first time hearing this. This is a shocker," Peterson Sr. told ESPN. "It could have happened. It could have come out of [Lyles'] mouth, that's what happens. These guys try to make money on their own, they are kind of like escort services. That's what I call them, escort services."

"It's like Cam Newton, same thing," Peterson Sr. told ESPN, referring to the Heisman Trophy winner and former Auburn quarterback whose father was found to have asked for up to $180,000 for Newton to play at Mississippi State. "These guys -- they are trying to get paid. You have to be careful who you talk to, who you deal with it. I just know him [Lyles] from the camps."

And we're off.

Howard's head coach Alvin Tarver watches the game against Boyd-Buchanan at Boyd-Buchanan High School. Staff File Photo by Allison Kwesell/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Howard's head coach Alvin Tarver watches the game...

This and that

- Atlanta Hawks announcer Dominique Wilkins was not injured after being attacked by a fan after the team's 85-82 win over Orlando last night. The attacker, a former NBA referee Rashan S. Michel, told police Wilkins owed him money. The 5-at-10 thought maybe Wilkins forced Michel to listen to his TV commentary. (Kidding, kidding.)

- Local note: Howard football coach Alvin Tarver resigned Wednesday. Read what TFP prep ace Stephen Hargis had to say about it HERE. The 5-at-10 has a great deal of respect for Coach Tarver, his program and his approach. Thanks for letting us share in your accomplishments, Coach, and best of luck.

- Hold on to your hats, but Sweet Marvin Miller, do you know that Major League Baseball is the current pro sports model for labor harmony? That's right, 16 years of labor peace. Let's just move on.

- Matt Painter will stay at Purdue, saying thanks but no thanks to Missouri. The 5-at-10 has to believe that some Missouri reps have VCU's Shaka Smart on speed dial.

- We still have a spot open in Friday's mailbag, so get us your question. One of our questions for tomorrow (this is called a tease in the family-oriented-Intertube-web-based-sports column business) is about Barry Bonds, so we'll cover that tomorrow and just go nuts (thank you, thank you).

Until tomorrow.