Clay Travis is sharp guy. A lawyer in fact. He’s authored books, hosted radio shows and his internet blogs and columns draw national attention. He’s also a favorite among Generation Tweet. And he knows how to draw pageviews — this is the man, after all, who went so far as to ask Tim Tebow if he were a virgin a couple of years ago.
Despite his media success — and the guy is a bonafide media success — I cringed when I saw he’d started his own SportsByBrooks type scandal sheet. We already have one self-made Mike Wallace with a smart aleck’s attitude, I don’t know that the sports world needs another.
Not surprisingly, one week into existence, Travis’ new site OutkickTheCoverage.com has keyed in on a — wait for it — potential scandal at Alabama as its first big attention-getter.
Last week, just hours before Nick Saban was to speak at SEC Media Days, Travis posted a story tying Alabama Heisman-hopeful Trent Richardson to a Tuscaloosa menswear shop. Bama officials said they investigated the issue last fall and found no violations. They also sent the owner of T-Town Menswear a cease-and-desist letter for using the autographs of Tide players to promote his business.
Yesterday, Travis posted that letter on his site. In it we find that Tom Albetar was actually selling the signed merchandise. UA claims their players had no knowledge of that. (If they did have knowledge, that would cause an eligibility issue and Bama could force the Crimson Tide to vacate a few more victories.)
Travis has also posted the news that Albetar had sideline passes to Alabama’s games in 2010 and 2009. Do the math, if there were eligibility issues — thanks to Albetar — for UA players in 2009, their national championship could come into question.
We link you to these stories because they’re already making waves across the conference with fans. As was the case with SportsByBrooks’ many, many, many Auburn stories, if a site creates big enough waves, a site like ours — dedicated to bringing you all of the SEC’s news each day plus opinion on that news — must make you aware of it.
But, as showed in how we handled Scott Moore’s alleged Cam Newton tapes, we don’t bring you these stories as fact. Moore was an unabashed Alabama fan. Anything he said about Auburn had to be filtered through that lens, which is why we repeatedly wrote that he should put up or shut up. (He finally shut up.)
Travis makes no bones about his Tennessee fandom. And while that doesn’t mean his reporting on Alabama is inaccurate, that fandom does have to be taken into consideration. One would think — being based in Nashville — that Travis would have an easier time digging up dirt on Vanderbilt or Tennessee than he would Alabama. It will be interesting to see if he begins looking into any suspicious Vol fans’ connections to UT.
As stated earlier, OutkickTheCoverage and SportsByBrooks are great at what they do. They take a tip from their inbox, do some digging and post away… that’s how you get links, eyeballs and cash in the internet game.
We’re just disappointed that the number of web-based scandal rags is growing. If someone takes the time to dig long enough, he can uncover dirt on a program. Any program. Every program.
For that reason, we continue to say there’s no greater percentage of schools cheating today than there was 50 years ago. There are just more folks like Travis trying to catch people cheating.
And his latest links prove that he — like the folks at SportsByBrooks — know there’s big business in trying to tear down athletic departments.