I have been a subscriber and loyal reader of Sports Illustrated since its first year of publication, many years ago. This, despite the fact that I’ve long resented the magazine’s bias against my alma mater, Oklahoma State University. I’ve written SI many letters to the editors about this bias–some of which they have published. My latest was sent as recently as three weeks ago, immediately after the publication of SI’s annual college football preview issue. Although all pre-season polls had OSU ranked either #12 or #13 in the nation and all had us as favorites to win the Big 12 conference, SI chose to omit OSU from the top 25 entirely, and listed four Big 12 teams in the top 25 ranking, ahead of the Cowboys. I was shocked and angry.
But, all that was before the latest–and most incredible–blast against my school. In a five-part expose which began last week, SI accuses our football program of a variety of sins: paying players, tutors taking tests for players, co-eds providing sex to recruits. In gathering their “facts,” the writers (one of whom is a huge fan of our rival, University of Oklahoma, and has written a number of anti-OSU stories throughout his career) interviewed a number of former players, most of whom were dismissed from the university or the team for a variety of reasons–and now hold grudges. One example: Herschel Simms, a running back who was thrown out for having stolen money from a teammate. Now, this criminal is one of Sports Illustrated’s witnesses against us. ESPN, which has taken up the cause of getting to the bottom of this story, has interviewed a number of clean ex-players from OSU. All of them–such exemplars as Tatum Bell and Brandon Weedon–without exception, deny the stories and say that none of these abuses took place. Now, even some of the men SI quoted are denying that they ever made the accusations.
There is no question that big-time college football is not pure. There is simply too much money in the sport for it to remain clean. It needs reform. And one could also ask: why did OSU admit some of these bad apples whom they eventually dismissed? Every day, we read newspaper stories about college football players around the country in trouble with the law. But, Sports Illustrated should be ashamed for allowing its reporters to print lies about a single university, instead of attempting to right the wrongs with the sport in general. Shame on them!