Ed Note: This article appears via Bloguin's college football blog Crystal Ball Run.
Interesting couple days on the Plains.
First, there was Selena Roberts’ portrayal of an Auburn football program running wild around the time of its 2010 national championship run. On Thursday ESPN took a turn going after the Tigers, hyping an investigation into an alleged cover-up of failed drug tests and rampant use of synthetic marijuana.
Allegations of impropriety aside, neither article will go down as a masterpiece in the canons of investigative journalism. Both are jumbled and incoherent, particularly with regard to establishing timelines. Despite claims of investigations spanning months, the end products smack of the kind of shoddy narratives that can result when news outlets realize they’re competing to break a big story.
As for the meat of ESPN’s new “expose,” it tastes pretty bland to me. The idea of college athletes getting high should surprise no one at this point. Seeing as Auburn didn’t have a testing regimen in place to identify synthetic marijuana at the time that all of this is alleged to have taken place, these guys didn't have to be Pablo Escobar to find that loophole. Truth be told, Auburn is only one of about 120 major college football programs that are still trying to get a handle on “spice” and the other variations of synthetic pot.
So, three years after Cam Newton and Co. took home the crystal ball, investigative journalists are still drilling away at the same hole. It makes sense – the smoke that has been billowing from Auburn suggests Jordan-Hare Stadium is a raging inferno.
Yet, while just about everyone can agree at this point that, um, stuff happened out on the Plains, these hackneyed stabs at blowing the lid off a scandal come off pretty weak.
It's not as much a matter of calling either article's evidence into question as simply asking, "Is that it?" If this is the best that the media can do, probably past time to chalk it up to the game.