If your aim is to talk about how dirty a program is, call for the NCAA to crack skulls or attempt to bash Auburn University, then absolutely you've lost sight of the big picture. In fact, if that's what drives you, in the grand scheme of things, a dose of reality is more than called for in this situation.
Yes, the Selena Roberts story at Roopstigo had plenty of what college football fans deem to be salacious tidbits. Details about player payments and changed grades. Talks of failed drugs tests, too. Then ESPN followed up with their report on "spice," or synthetic marijuana, at Auburn and how rampant the usage was while the team did little to curb the ordeal.
Thus, in a short time the college football world seems to have all eyes on Auburn, again. Auburn fans are lashing out, this is not their first rodeo and as a group, they have been put through the ringer enough times to know how to respond.
Yet, lost in all of this is the most compelling, and truly human, element of the entire ordeal: Mike McNeil.
Selena Roberts starts and ends her story with McNeil, but when the dust settled from her write up, the main take away was Auburn and allegations, again. The talk about spice, certainly a dangerous marijuana alternative, has become a beast of its own with folks arguing about testing and banned substances list, all while McNeil sits and waits for his day in court.
As we often see happening in the world of sports, the on the field aspect takes center stage. Or, in this situation, the "who should not have been on the field" aspect. Rivals want to know about whether or not the BCS Championship will still stand. Others are looking to see who should have been suspended for drug tests. While still more folks just relish in the finger pointing and hand wringing that they can get out of the situation.
So, while everyone worries about a championship, and quibbles over sports, no one gives much of a damn about the 24-year-old with a five-year-old daughter who faces 21 years to life on a case that has multiple reported incongruencies.
If there is an investigation to be done, it is about the witness accounts that have shifted and evolved. If there is an investigation to be done, it is about how McNeil was the only member of the group not to be Mirandized. If there is an investigation to be done, it is about the show-up lineup used by the police.
The lack of consideration for the reality of a situation isn't new. Sports, for so many people, is what matters the most. Damn some kid and his future, as long as the program looks good, screw him and his life. To hell with the possibility that an innocent guy might go to jail, that school's championship definitely should not count.
Yet, folks wonder why anyone would say that sports have consumed the culture of a place, even with the answer sitting squarely in front of them. That's not an Auburn thing, it's an everyone thing. The people pointing at Auburn as football consumed are the same ones passing over the McNeil story in an effort to have NCAA (yes, the same folks who've bungled the Miami case) judgement rain down on The Plains. They are just as bad as the people hoping the university doesn't look bad in all of this.
Personally, I don't care about the possibility that cash changed hands. I don't care if kids get suspended for drug tests or not. I don't care about the NCAA hammering them or taking away their title. Perhaps, it is just me, but I don't care nearly as much about those things as people freaking out about them.
Especially not when a guy's future is the only thing that truly matters in this situation.