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ESPN Says LSU Is Cheating, But Not Really

Well, ESPN ripped us a new one this morning.  In case you missed it, here was the OTL report on how we supposedly ruined Chris Garrett's life:



Anywho, here's the basic charge: LSU cut Chris Garrett due to the evil, nefarious plot of oversigning and according to the lawyer they interviewed, LSU is dangerously close to fraud.  Um, yeah.

Let's get one thing straight right now. LSU is absolutely desperate for quarterbacks.  Did you see what we trotted out on the field this year?  LSU only has two scholarship QB's right now, which has to be the lowest figure in the country.  Garrett is not a victim of oversigning per se, he's a victim of the coaching staff thinking he's not very good.  A judgment that's been, not to be overly harsh but here goes, borne out by the past season.

And this is so far away from fraud.  I'm shocked ESPN would levy that charge and let it hang out there without refutation.  So allow me: athletic scholarships under NCAA rules are one-year contract that can be renewed each year, up to four years (five in the case of redshirts).  A school can decline to renew a scholarship due to player performance, as athletic scholarships are merit based.

Now, we can debate whether this is fair or whether it's right.  Athlete's rights groups have long argued scholarships should be a full four year commitment.  However, as it stands now, the contract is one year long.  Garrett's was not renewed by the terms of the contract.  End of story.  To throw out the charge of fraud is simply irresponsible. 

Also, the ESPN "expert" talked about how oversigning was unfair to upperclassmen, giving the impression that Garrett was an upperclassmen.  Would it have been so hard for ESPN to point out that he was a freshman? In a piece on dishonesty, I found it revealing that ESPN failed to disclose some key facts themselves.  It was a hit piece, pure and simple.

Of course the piece brought up Elliot Porter, as if he was the first player ever greyshirted.  I'm not thrilled with how the whole thing was handled, but LSU has had a successful greyshirt program.  Guys like Harry Coleman and Trindon Holliday were both greyshirts, and things worked out okay for them.  To pretend that greyshirting is some tactic that ruins the player's career is simply false, particularly at LSU, where Miles has shown commitment to the greyshirts.  Elliot Porter had the choice to either wait a year at LSU or be released from his commitment and have a scholarship immediately at Kentucky. He chose to go to Kentucky.  Not the greatest situation in the world, to be sure, but Porter's career has not been ruined, or even delayed. 

 I've said before that I don't like recruiting.  I do think its a dirty business.  And it absolutely is a numbers game.  But the piece does not allege that LSU has broken any rules whatsoever.  I'm glad the Big Ten fans can pat themselves on the back for being better people.  I hope their moral superiority makes the losing football go down easier. 

This was a simple smear job from ESPN, and if that's the best they got, they ain't got nothing.