The coaching tenure of Gene Chizik at Auburn was one of the most unpredictable in recent college football history. Following a 2010 BCS National title, the Tigers tailspinned, going 0-8 in the SEC only two years later.
It was War Eagle’s first conference season without a win since 1980, and it cost Chizik his job. However, had Chizik retained his position, he would have been facing an even bigger headache after a report was released by former Sports Illustrated’s columnist Selena Roberts that he changed players’ grades and even paid them during his time in The Plains.
The report was made public on Wednesday. Almost immediately afterwards, several players that had been either quoted or implicated by Roberts as having accepted money took to Twitter to refute her claims.
One player, former star defensive end Antoine Carter, was not drafted into the NFL after playing a big role in the 2010 championship run. Roberts quoted Carter in her report as saying that Chizik’s influence kept NFL scouts lukewarm on his talent: “The coaches had a lot of say-so with scouts,” says Carter. “Chizik didn’t like anyone who didn’t fit a certain image.”
Carter’s response to Roberts’ report was succinct.
Please dont remix my words
— Antoine Carter (@AC45AU) April 4, 2013
Former Tigers star and current Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Neiko Thorpe was quoted by Roberts as saying, “Auburn does what Auburn wants”.
While I spoke to Selena Roberts about Mike I have just read her article & not only am I misquoted but my words are very out of (1/2) — Neiko Thorpe (@Neiko15) April 4, 2013
context. We didn’t talk about NCAA violations or recruiting. I’m proud 2 have played at Auburn & the opportunities it gave me (2/2)
— Neiko Thorpe (@Neiko15) April 4, 2013
Another former defensive end, Mike Blanc, was quoted by Roberts as saying that the payments made to former players could reach “thousands of dollars”. Like Carter and Thorpe, Blanc immediately refuted any claims of the sort.
Man this article is outrageous and isn’t true. The media will do anything for a juicy story smh #sad
— Mike Blanc (@MikeBlanc93) April 3, 2013
Blanc, unlike his teammates, have taken things one step further. When AL.com called all three players, Blanc was the only one to immediately respond.
“Yeah. Me, personally, I don’t have any direct knowledge of it,” Blanc said. “You just hear stuff. I’m pretty sure other guys on the team that know more, like guys that were closer to Darvin and these other players I know. Darvin probably would have told those guys. I know Mike and Darvin were really cool. Maybe Darvin could have shared some information with Mike. But, me, personally, I don’t know nothing factual that any guys got any money.”
Basically, at this point in time it’s hard to gauge the accuracy of Roberts’ report, especially with three players now refuting her words.
Stay tuned here, we will keep you updated as new information surfaces.