So let's recap. Laremy Tunsil's draft got off to a terrible start when a video surfaced on his Twitter feed right as the festivities were beginning of him using what appeared to be marijuana via a bong rigged to a gas mask. Ingenious, but also a PR nightmare for any team considering drafting the Mississippi offensive tackle.
Tunsil just kept dropping down draft boards until he landed in the lap of the Miami Dolphins at #13.
While Tunsil was sitting in the draft green room nervously waiting to hear his name, his Instagram account was apparently also hacked, with someone posting screenshots of messages from his phone in which Tunsil appears to be soliciting money from coaches or boosters.
Finally, after hearing his name called and shaking hands with Roger Goodell, Tunsil made his way to the interview room. And only then did the really weird stuff happen (pay careful attention from about the 1:45 mark on):
A few thoughts:
- Between Laremy Tunsil's whiplash switch from Georgia to Ole Miss and Laquon Treadwell's poor choice of photo subjects, there's no one outside the Magnolia State who doesn't believe Ole Miss's 2013 signing class wasn't bought and paid for. Sorry, Rebs.
- I'm not really that concerned about it, either. I'm already on record saying that Todd Gurley should have been able to profit from his own image while in Athens and I believe until the NCAA allows that kind of reasonable remuneration back alley deal-making is what they get. If somebody's willing to give Tunsil some money to cover his mama's rent and power bill, I can honestly say I can think of other more pernicious evils in the world.
- Regarding those text messages. . .There is a John Miller on the Ole Miss staff who serves as the Assistant A.D. for football operations. He joined Freeze's staff in 2012 after a long run at Southern Mississippi and a short term as a high school coach. There's also a Barney on the Rebels' staff, fellow Assistant A.D. Barney Farrar, who also came from Southern Miss and whose Ole Miss bio states that he has played "a vital role in recruiting." Using my powers of deductive reasoning, I expect that Mrs. Miller and Farrar had a long evening and have quite a day of meetings planned for tomorrow.
- Are the texts legitimate? Who knows? Tunsil seems to admit they are in his press conference, but could go back later and say that because of the timing he was not aware of what texts the media members were asking about. To me it's an awful lot of smoke. But it's not an SMU-style raging wildfire. Text messages are a little more nebulous than bank records, ya know?
- Oxford isn't Sodom and Gomorrah rolled into one. But as our SB Nation colleague Steven Godfrey detailed some years back, there's a whole lotta cheatin' going on in major college football. At a lot of schools. Maybe not every school. And I am certain that not every player even at the schools where some players are getting $100 handshakes is getting paid. But it's rampant. The crazy thing is that Godfrey's piece on bagmen was more of a sketch than an exhaustive treatment. There's a lot more going on out there: clothes, cars, cash, companionship. College football is a multi-billion dollar business and like any other such business it has an underbelly. This makes some fans really distraught. I hope you're not one of them. College football has a lot of good in it. A lot of good people. I love it in spite of its flaws.
- I'd love to know who the nervously laughing lady who ushered Tunsil offstage before he could honestly answer questions about the NCAA was. I presume a member of his management team, who did an absolutely ham-handed job of dealing with Tunsil's situation all night. As I noted above Tunsil is represented by SEC uber-agent Jimmy Sexton, who also reps Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. For now. Sexton also represents Bulldog coach Kirby Smart, by the way.
- Ole Miss isn't going down for this. Within the next 48 hours Tunsil will explain that he didn't really understand the question, or that the coach he took money from didn't work at Ole Miss. Something to mitigate the damage. And the NCAA, bereft of subpoena power or any other real leverage, is unlikely to be able to do anything about it.
There'll certainly be more to this story in the coming days. But for now that's what I know. In the end I'm far more concerned with how the Georgia quarterback race is progressing, and whether Nick Chubb's knee is holding up than I am about whether a player who has no more eligibility got paid to play at Ole Miss. Because college football is where confirmation bias lives. The Ole Miss fans who believe Tunsil chose Oxford because he fell in love with the place will never be swayed. The Mississippi State fans who believe he was paid cash on the barrel head are likewise entrenched. It's all sordid, and a little sad, and it won't stop the world from turning or the wheel route from working. Until later . . .