So the thing that everybody knew happened did happen.
Tunsil's Draft Presser via WBBM. "Was their an exchange between you and your coach for $$?" "I'd have to say, yeah." pic.twitter.com/TqYeOSjOfO
— Robby Donoho (@RobbyDonoho) April 29, 2016
As revelations go it's small time. Tunsil didn't get suspended for seven games for nothing.
Here is the best description of the admission. Tunsil went in front of the media almost as the Instagram stuff was posted and said these things in this order:
Then Tunsil was asked about the Instagram posts. He said he’d just found out about them, and reiterated that he’d made a mistake. Asked by reporter as to whether there’d been an exchange of money between Tunsil and a coach, he first responded, “I wouldn’t say that.” But when pressed a few moments later, he said, “Those messages?” almost as if he hadn’t understood the previous questions. “Those were true. Like I said, I made a mistake.”
Asked again if there had been an exchange of money, Tunsil then responded matter-of-factly, “I have to say yeah.” A further question about whether he’d met with the NCAA was being posed when Milam appeared from behind a curtain, cutting the session short. “He’s got no more comments. Thank you guys so much,” she said, tapping the offensive lineman on the shoulder, whisking him away and leaving media as baffled as Tunsil apparently had been.
Tunsil said it twice and was clearly referring to the Instagram posts since "those" is not a way you'd reference the bong hit. That's about as clear as it'll ever get.
Good for Tunsil, more or less. Dude got paid, got to the NFL as a mid-first-round pick, and got to do a gas mask bong in front of a Confederate flag. I guess that's empowering?
I don't have any issue with Tunsil's priorities. I assume 80% of College Football Players have taken hits off a novelty bong. I'm assuming his family is not particularly wealthy; it's a logical decision to get paid when you happen to be an incredible prospect in a field that has a professional career that lasts on average 2.6 years. Maybe don't film yourself doing a thing that you know the NFL is irrational about, but the only proper response to tut-tutters is to roll your eyes.
Meanwhile I can get behind following that up with an honest admission he got paid to go to a university with negligible football history and Confederate flags behind every bong. I'll only be vaguely irritated at Tunsil if he walks back those admissions. He doesn't owe anything to Ole Miss; a look inside the sausage factory can only speed up the day when people can give money to college football players over the table. There is a point at which the NCAA must admit that they have no ability to prevent people from getting paid and drops the whole charade.
It is an amazing bit of brainwashing. That's why I think some coach just needs to use protest-the-system defense. https://t.co/HmYhlGvgdl
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) April 29, 2016
And what a charade it is. Whenever I bring this up and advocate near-total deregulation of money headed to college football players there is a pushback from people who say
- but then people with money will have influence on football programs and
- but then college football players will have the money.
I look at these people and wonder why they think 1 isn't already true—even at programs trying to stay between the lines—and why 2 is a problem. The text message exchange is an attempt to get a bill paid for his mom. We have zero issue with 18 and 19 year olds getting paid in any other sport; paternalistic concerns they might do something harmlessly stupid with the money are nonsensical since then the players are merely back where they started.
Ole Miss got greedy. The reason that Ole Miss might actually take a fall here is because they got greedy. They had a story why they might acquire Robert Nkemdiche—his brother was already on the team. They had zero plausible story why they'd acquire Tunsil or Laquon Treadwell, out-of-state five stars with zero connection to a program that hadn't done anything since the 1960s. Tunsil in particular seems to have come with some serious family baggage that may explain why Ole Miss was able to outbid others:
Suspicion for the hacks quickly and naturally fell upon Tunsil’s stepfather, Lindsey Miller, with whom Tunsil has been engaged in a lengthy and nasty legal battle.
Last June, Tunsil was arrested on domestic-violence charges after a fight with Miller. Tunsil told police that his stepfather had pushed his mother, and he punched Miller to protect her, and pressed charges against Miller. Miller told police that Tunsil hit him at least six times, that the attack was unprovoked, and that the argument started over Tunsil having impermissible contact with agents. NCAA investigators interviewed Miller over his claims that he had proof of rules violations committed by Ole Miss.
A month later, Tunsil and Miller agreed to drop the charges against each other.
This past Tuesday, two days before the draft, Miller filed a lawsuit against Tunsil, claiming Tunsil assaulted him and defamed his character. The suit alleges “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
If you're Alabama you can just move on to the next kid. (Or maybe not.) Ole Miss can't, and that may be their undoing. And it should be. While paying players is morally fine it is also against the rules.
Hi, Hugh Freeze. If there's ever been an example of a guy who just along for the ride it's Hugh "muh families" Freeze. Dude is an anonymous high school coach before a one-year apprenticeship at Arkansas State and then Ole Miss. Upon his arrival they start recruiting like they matter, and he bitches about having to work.
Gus Malzahn is a great comparison here. Malzahn also came from high school and also had a one year apprenticeship at Arkansas State before getting the Auburn job, but beforehand he was OC at Arkansas and Auburn and Tulsa and had excellent success at all those places, getting chased about because sometimes those places are insane. Malzhan got his job because he's a good football coach, and if Auburn's paying some guys to come that's only part of his success. Survey says they are, but not egregiously.
Freeze has nothing to his name other than the ability to not observe cash payments to high-profile recruits, and over the past year his program has seen one Nkemdiche fall out off a balcony whilst high, the other Nkemdiche leave the team and get hospitalized twice with "personal issues," and now the Tunsil thing. One of the appeals of the Ole Miss program appears to be a total lack of adult supervision. The NCAA changing official visit policies so that parents can come along will not be a help to them.
It's to the point where the NFL notices:
Multiple sources told The MMQB that Tunsil’s off-field behavior was becoming increasingly worrisome and reason for some teams to remove him from their draft boards altogether. Much of it had to do with the culture at Mississippi, sources say.
A Freeze implosion here would be richly deserved. Whether the NCAA has the ability to deliver it is very much in question, unfortunately.