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The T-Town Menswear Story Isn’t Going Away As Websites Keep Digging

The good folks at OutkickTheCoverage.com and SportsByBrooks.com aren’t letting the T-Town Menswear story drift into the backpages of the internet.  Both have posted new info on the maybe-it-is/maybe-it-isn’t scandal in the past 24 hours.

First… OKTC reports that they have photographic evidence that there were “autographed jerseys from current players at multiple locations.”  And those jerseys were for sale, which suggests either a) the players might have been rewarded in some way for their signatures or b) the players were helping a business promote itself.  Case a) would be a violation of NCAA rules and case b) could be viewed as a violation. 

The site also takes issue with the idea that Bama’s players didn’t know their signatures were being sold:


“… Would any reasonable person with even a smidge of intelligence not notice if they signed a jersey for T-Town Menswear one day and the next day or shortly thereafter it was for sale at a kiosk in the same mall?  Then, if after seeing this you went back and continued to sign autographs, would you lose all ability to play the “I didn’t know,” defense?

I think so.  And I think the NCAA will agree with me.”


The site adds this as well:


“So (Tuesday’s) announcement (from UA) was a bombshell.  A very bad bombshell for the Crimson Tide program.  Prior to now Alabama had been trying to hide the fact that it had been compelled to disassociate (store owner Tom) Albetar.  Now we all know.  And so does the NCAA.

Good luck with that.”


I find it odd that an SEC fan is rejoicing so in the possible downfall of an SEC team.  Clay Travis — the author of the story — is a Tennessee fan.  He makes that clear in this “manifesto” that explains exactly what his site is all about. 

If you’re an SEC fan — you listening Bama and Auburn-backers — the downfall of a rival program only hurts the league.  If a school is out buying players and handing out car keys to recruits, fine, take ‘em down.  But these kinds of shenanigans can be found at major schools all across the country.  If Alabama or Auburn or another SEC program gets taken to the woodshed to the point that its banned from television — unlikely but possible — then CBS and ESPN would likely have the ability to rework their contracts with the SEC.

“Hooray, we brought down Bama!  And cost our favorite school millions in the process.” 

And if the NCAA hammer falls on one SEC school, the reputation of all SEC schools will suffer.  You better believe that one.  Who knows what that would do for the votes of pollsters?  If too many people view the SEC as dirty, it could cost an SEC team a BCS title shot somewhere down the road.  Just something to think about before you email your favorite scandal-driven website photos of Nick Saban or Gene Chizik shaking hands with Muammar Gaddafi.

Now, someone will no doubt claim that we’re saying a true SEC fan would ignore or cover these types of stories up.  Not so.  We at MrSEC.com just don’t understand the pure joy some folks get from ripping down a rival program.


Meanwhile, on the site SportsByBrooks, a photo showing Heisman hopeful Trent Richardson is posted today.  He’s wearing a red jacket while signing a framed print of Alabama football players.  The site’s headline: “Why is Richardson Signing With a Suit Jacket On?”  The clear inference being that Richardson is wearing a coat given to him in exchange for signing merchandise. 

Seems like a bit of a leap to us.  In fact, this just looks like another photo dump.  As was the case with much of the “evidence” against Cam Newton and Auburn, the word “circumstantial” keeps popping into our heads.

Sure these photos and this situation looks bad for Alabama.  For that matter, it looked like Casey Anthony had killed her daughter.  But no one could prove it.  And so far, we’ve seen no proof of any type of payment going from Albetar to Bama players.  Just as we saw no hard evidence of Auburn paying the Newtons a single dime.

What you and I think — and what OutkickTheCoverage and SportsByBrooks post — won’t matter to the NCAA.  They’ll be looking for proof, evidence, and a smoking gun.  If they don’t find it, T-Town Menswear might disappear quicker than Scott Moore’s tapes (which I’m still told via email “are going to come out”).  In Moore’s case, we said “produce the tapes.”  Now we say, produce the proof.

Until that happens, this is just more “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” traffic-generation from a couple of very well-run sites.

The questions raised by their photo dumps need to be answered by someone at this point.  Only it won’t be OutkickTheCoverage, SportsByBrooks, MrSEC.com, ILoveBama.net, or ImABarner.org that Tide officials will be answering to.  It will most likely be NCAA investigators.

With as much pub as this story has gotten in the past week, it’s hard to imagine NCAA officials won’t drop by Tuscaloosa for a quick Q&A at some point.

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Bama Says It’s Clear; Website Has More Questions

Good morning.  Let’s start where the big news always seems to be when it comes to the SEC — in the state of Alabama.  And like so many stories over the past few months, the big news of the day revolves around a potential football scandal at Alabama or Auburn.  Today it’s Alabama. 

Give it a week.

In this case, if it’s found that Tide players were paid for autographs or given merchandise at discounted rates by a Tuscaloosa menswear shop, those players could be ruled ineligible (or retroactively ineligible).  Think Ohio State.  Free tattoos brought down that program and have led to the vacation of a season’s worth of victories.  (The cover-up cost Jim Tressel his job, too.)

Players also are not allowed to have their likenesses used as advertising for a product or a shop, either.  It doesn’t look like that’s what’s been going on, but it’s part of this “investigation.”

The gist of the new info:


1.  UA put out a press release yesterday stating that it had found no violations of NCAA rules in its own investigation into the connection between multiple past and present players with a Tuscaloosa menswear store and its owner (who had Tide sideline passes in 2009 and 2010).

2.  The school released a letter that it sent to Tom Albetar — the store owner — on March 31st telling him that he was being disassociated from the program for three years.  Alabama had also sent him a cease-and-desist letter in December instructing him to stop selling merchandise featuring UA players’ autographs.

3.  Players like former Tide quarterback Greg McElroy are now coming forward to say that Albetar never paid them for their signatures.  Ex-player Chris Rogers said: “He’d (say), ‘Hey guys, I like you guys, but nothing is going to be free or discounted in there.  You have to pay for everything, because they’re watching me.  He would always say that, and he always would make sure you bought everything for what it was (worth).”

4.  Bama officials have still not filed a report with the SEC or NCAA, suggesting that they feel quite buttoned-up on this issue.

5.  Nick Saban spoke about the situation on KESN-FM in Dallas yesterday: “… Our compliance people have been on top of this for a long time.  I think this is an example of… it’s not a violation if you sign a shirt for somebody, you just can’t receive compensation for it.  We’ve done a cease-and-desist with this establishment a long time ago to make sure everybody understands what players can and can’t do.  You know, I guess I could ban our players from the place but until somebody can sorta convince me that somebody is doing something wrong — which I haven’t been convinced of yet — I don’t know if that’s fair to our players.”

6.  Meanwhile, the site OutkickTheCoverage.com — which happened to start this tempest with a launch-week story that ran just hours before Nick Saban’s SEC Media Days press conference — continues to ask questions.

7.  UA officials says they did discuss the matter with the SEC office.  The site questions why Bama officials initially said they did not file a report only to later come back and say that they did talk with the SEC. (Of course, it’s possible that there’s a difference between talking to the SEC office and filing a report.  Seems rather obvious to us.)

8.  The site also wonders what happened between last December’s cease-and-desist letter and the March letter disassociating Albetar from the program.  If nothing illegal was taking place, why was the second letter necessary?  That’s a good question.

9.  Here’s one of the site’s queries (verbatim): “Do you think Alabama would have ever released this letter without OKTC and the huge audience we’ve already created in less than a week pursuing this story?” 


On that front, we get to the meat of this story.  OutkickTheCoverage.com pulled a launch week coup by posting photos — and there’s no doubt in our minds those photos were sent to them by an Auburn-backer or 40 — of Bama players with Albetar.  In this day and age, that qualifies as “investigative journalism.”

Get a photo.  Post it.  Say “what’s up with that?” and then sit back and see where it goes.  When someone provides an answer, question the answer.  We’ve seen this same type of thing play out at SportsByBrooks.com again and again, too. 

It’s good business.

Clay Travis — the man behind OutkickTheCoverage.com — is an extremely sharp guy with an entertaining writing style.  He also would do anything for a pageview.  Nothing wrong with that, we suppose, as that’s how the business works.

Two years ago, Travis asked Tim Tebow at SEC Media Days if he still had his virginity.  Many laughed.  A few old-timers — like those of here at MrSEC.com — cringed at the line he had crossed.  That question was further proof that “old school” sports coverage was becoming more of a “National Enquirer,” “TMZ” style coverage.  You know why?  ‘Cause folks eat that stuff up.  Somebody’s been buying The Enquirer for all these years.

OutkickTheCoverage might have just found some real dirt on Alabama in this case.  It might lead to the downfall of its football program.  (Just as one of the 50 Auburn stories SportsByBrooks posted in the past 12 months might eventually damage the Tiger program.)

But we think this is a fishing expedition.  We feel the NCAA needs to get involved at this point to do some real legwork on the story… so we are not downplaying what OKTC has found.  We’re just suggesting that their method of investigation was pretty loose.

The trouble with sites like OutkickTheCoverage and SportsByBrooks is that they could post questionable photos of any program in the country.  While it doesn’t excuse a school’s actions, there’s some real truth in the old, “everybody does it,” line.  In this day and age, no player can be photographed with a booster, in a store or out to dinner without the photographer gaining the ability to start a controversy. 

It begins with a “What’s he doing there?” post.  Ten days later we may find that the player was doing nothing wrong at all.  Or we might find that John Edwards really was having an affair (to put things in a National Enquirer perspective).

These “investigations” aren’t “60 Minutes” in nature.  They’re much more toss-it-to-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks.

In this case, Alabama had better hope the photos OutkickTheCoverage has thrown against the wall don’t stick.  Or else the Tide could be on a Buckeye-like path to serious trouble.

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