By now you have likely already read our SB Nation colleague Steven Godfrey’s seminal text on cheating as trying in SEC football, Meet the Bag Man. If not, please feel free to follow the link and have your illusions about the unsullied world of amateur athletics ripped asunder.
Now Godfrey is back and unveiling the results of his years long investigation into the scandal surrounding Ole Miss football, Hugh Freeze’s too-good-to-be-free 2013 signing class, and the NCAA’s desperate attempts to keep intact the crumbling veneer of amateurism. Foul Play: Paid in Mississippi is a gripping story about how college football recruiting really happens. Not in every case, not with every prospect. But more often than many fans realize and more often than anyone publicly involved with the business of college football cares to admit.
As much as anything it’s a great examination of the often murky waters, the conflicting loyalties that arise from the institutional decree that college football players are being fairly compensated for their efforts when all empirical evidence is to the contrary, and those inside the system know it. When college football coaches are tasked with all being above average, and being better every year than they were before, or being shown the door. Godfrey also delves into the college football fan’s gnawing conundrum, at least one of them: how complicit are those of us who watch every Saturday in propping up a system that takes advantage of its most valuable people, and in the process has created a shadow economy in the millions of dollars?
It’s also a story about Hugh Freeze’s hubris (let’s call it “Hugh-bris”), the NCAA’s dogged efforts to punish that hubris, and how those ham-handed efforts were given new life in front of a national television audience during the 2016 NFL Draft. Episode One of the four part series is available now and is not to be missed. You can watch it free through Verizon’s free go90 streaming service.
Until later . . .