The usual day-to-day coach speak here at SEC Media Days has been replaced this year by the talk of "Agent Gate." Parties on South Beach; money changing hands during the season; "Pimps"… Is this Jersey Shore or Hoover?
So far North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia have all been tied in one way or another to "Agent Gate". The story doesn't seem to be going away either, so the rest of the SEC needs to watch its back.
With over 1,000 media members present in one central location, this story has only gotten bigger by the minute with the always-predictable ESPN beating the drum. (Full disclosure: Scout.com is part of Fox and News Corporation, and we know that other forms of media beat the drum, too).
When something like this begins to take shape many feel that where there is smoke there is fire – that's understandable. If a player's name is mentioned then he must have something to do with it right? If you cover the SEC, you just get the story out there because said player has been mentioned, and you let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes, and this can be difficult for the media, resisting this is the most difficult thing to do. After all: it is easier to report what someone else is doing (do your thing ESPN) rather than report it yourself.
A.J. Green has been the "person of interest" today, but the problem is that Green is refuting everything, and our sources confirm what he's saying. South Beach? Try South Carolina – Green said he wasn't in Miami.
Still, walk into any sports bar or turn on your television at home with any channel from the Worldwide Leader on Wednesday and Thursday and you will see Green's highlights running as the story is being reported – "GEORGIA BEING INVESTIGATED".
Yes, they are doing their job, no question, but let's be real here: ESPN is not in the business of news. They are in the TV business, and those are two different things that, on occasion, come together during a broadcast. After all, Joe "Texas to the Pac-Ten" Schad is leading ESPN's coverage on this one. Really? That guy? Does credibility matter?
Yet there has been no real connection between Green and this alleged agent-sponsored party in Miami. Just chatter, which is looking pretty misguided now.
"I've never even been to Miami. I have my circle, and I know who to trust and who not to trust." Green told Dawg Post's Dean Legge earlier today.
Not much wiggle room on that one.
So why has Green been brought to the forefront of this whole mess? The answer is simple… its more about being first and feeding the monster than it is about being right.
As I sit here writing this I'm just as guilty as anyone because I have "College Football Live" on my TV in the background… Hell yes, feed the fiasco.
Since Green's name was included in these allegations, stories will run and he will be considered guilty until proven innocent – it happens; we all do it; welcome to America. If and when it is known without doubt (as Green's word is not good enough and Maurice Pouncy's isn't either) that he was not in South Beach then all we get is a quick blip on the ticker and ESPN is on to the next story. That's how this game works.
We all want the latest information on our favorite teams and the various media outlets compete daily to get that information to their customers, subscribers and consumers.
So what is more important; being first or being right? As difficult as it is to sit and wait, being right should win out every time.
Genuinely good kids like A.J. Green deserve a fair shake before having their names plastered on all 27 of ESPN's outlets. Even kids that are not "genuinely good" deserve that, too, but we don't live in that world.
As this story continues to play out in the coming days it seems more people will be mentioned and the NCAA will visit more schools. Hopefully the reporting that is done from here on out will be fair and just to the kids who are named. I'm sure A.J. Green would have appreciated that luxury.