During the college football offseason, fans are desperate for any kind of football news. So much so that days like National Signing Day and the spring scrimmages become national holidays, where people get their dose of football before August arrives.
Nearly every offseason, some story comes out that shows just how low and dark college football can really be. These kinds of stories occur during the season, but they are often shrouded and buried under the pomp and circumstance of the tradition and the pageantry of the games themselves. During the offseason, however, there is nothing to bury these stories, and they can be the definition of the upcoming season.
In 2011, it was the Ohio State scandal, in which five players including QB Terrelle Pryor sold memorabilia in exchange for tattoos. The result was an imposed five-game suspension to the five players involved. Later, it was known that Jim Tressel, the head coach of the Buckeyes, knew about this and kept it secret. He got served a two-game suspension that ultimately resulted in his eventual resignation.
In 2012 it was the Penn State sex abuse scandal. Former assistant Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse that occurred around University property. In addition, it was revealed that several officials, including former head coach Joe Paterno, had allegedly attempted to cover up the actions from the media and the public. The result was several firings and resignations, along with a laundry list of NCAA violations.
In 2013, it was Johnny Manziel, then-redshirt freshman and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Texas A&M. He was caught up in scandals over that offseason, from social media snafus to getting denied entrance to a University of Texas fraternity party. But the biggest of all was the allegations that he had sold off his autographs for-profit. The NCAA eventually responded with a half-game suspension, saying he had no direct involvement with the situation.
What will become the story that will be talked about for the months leading up to the 2014 football season? It isn’t entirely clear; but so far, the front-runner has to be the Rashaan Evans story and backlash surrounding his college decision on National Signing Day.
Evans surprised everyone when he selected Alabama as his choice to play football and get a degree. The story dominated the news cycle during National Signing Day and the days after. Now, a whole week after he announced his decision, Auburn fans seem none too happy about Evans’ decommitting from Auburn to go to play for their rivals across the state. Some fans are even making sure that he and his family know about it in probably the worst way imaginable, short of murder.
As you have no doubt heard and seen, a contingency of Auburn fans have taken steps to show Evans and his family just how angry they are over a kid’s college decision. They have sent the message across Lee County not to serve Evans or his family at any of the area restaurants, and even found out about the business the family owns and told Auburn fans not to shop there.
Evans spoke with TideSports.com about the issue and said that social media has been where it hurts the most.
“People on Instagram are telling me how they hope I tear my ACL in game one. They will laugh when I do. They are saying my family is horrible and how they didn’t raise me right. It’s just crazy.”
While this group of fans should not represent the entirety of the Auburn fanbase, it does being up a discussion of how far is too far. In a world where social media gives people a little sense of anonymity, it’s also giving them a unjust license to shoot insults at a recruit with little to no accountability.
Nobody wants to deal with the problem. When it all comes down to it, the deal is done, Evans is going to Tuscaloosa in August and we kickoff another season this fall. But, at least in the case of Evans and Auburn, Evans’ family might have their reputation shattered by a small contingency of Tiger fans who lack the respect enough to just let him go and do what he wants to do. Not to mention the Evans’ family might also encounter financial issues later on down the road. All because one kid wanted to do, for once, what was best for him and not what you, me or anybody else wanted him to do. You gotta admire his courage.
College football is a game of tradition. Last minute drives to win games, the marching bands, the packed stadiums and tailgating all work towards getting a beautiful crystal trophy at the end of the year. It’s the world that we as fans love to create. It’s an ideal world. College football is supposed to be an escape from the realities and trials of life. So when real life and college football intersect like this, it’s jarring, shocking and shameful.
All we can hope for is that it doesn’t get any worse than this. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.
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