September 12, 2012 – Remember the Rocky and Bullwinkle show? At some point in every episode Bullwinkle would say “Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” And then he’d pull up an elephant or a lion or something else. Never the rabbit.
For what seems like the hundredth time in the last 18 months the bellowing Bullwinkles of the media and message boards began their predictable chant earlier this week. “Hey, ya’ll, watch us pull an Auburn scandal out of our hat!” Like the befuddled moose that should be their mascot they came up empty once again.
It’s a disgraceful cycle fueled by little more than internet hounds baying up the wrong trees. It’s growing tiresome.
This episode began Monday with whispers of investigations in Memphis. Message board savants who knew someone who once walked a dog for someone who cut the hair of someone who got an autograph of someone who was acquainted with someone close to the investigation spat out lunatic theories and the rumor mill cranked into high gear.
Take the fact that Auburn signee Jovan Robinson has to sit out a year due to questions over his transcript, add reports that Mississippi State had potential violations looming over recruiting improprieties in Memphis and you have the perfect illogical internet storm.
ESPN, Yahoo!, the NCAA, the NAACP, the FBI, the IRS, the EPA, the CIA, NASA, the KGB, Oliver Stone and Roger Moore had allegedly all converged on Memphis and rumor had it that Auburn could expect to be immediately eviscerated.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal helped fan the flames with erroneous emails and salacious tweets.
As The Plains Burners put away their world of warcraft robes and rushed to congregate online, eyes wide in eager anticipation. Danny Sheridan peeked out from his crypt, dusted the dirt off and placed an order for another 2,000 twitter followers. Catfish Barger began calling community centers to inquire about fall hush puppy bookings. Thayer Evans spun around in his chair and high fived Pete Thamel in their adjoining cubicles. The Capstone Report removed the one Alabama-related article from its site so the glorious news of Auburn’s Armageddon could be posted alongside the other 19 Auburn-focused scribblings on its front page. Rick Karle’s head swelled another two and a half sizes and he toppled face first to the ground. Herds of bloggers, some who name themselves after fish and others who bleed, scurried to Dollar General to purchase more tinfoil for hats. Paul Finebaum halted his contract negotiations anticipating a ratings spike. Forklift operators requested time off to dust off their thesauruses. Jay Barker pontificated sanctimoniously.
Huntsville radio host Dale Jackson amped up the frenzy with a series of ridiculous tweets, the gist of which was: Auburn + Mississippi State + Investigation in 2012 = CAM NEWTON!!
The crowd howling at the moon grew delirious. If the station that employs Jackson had any character he’d be looking for a new career today.
Oh my! Hammer is coming! Real wrath of God stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes. The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!
And then today, fizz. Bullwinkle pulled a scrawny bulldog out of his hat.
The hotly anticipated report released by Yahoo! scarcely mentioned Auburn except to note a transcript issue with Robinson that has already been investigated. The report today instead focused on improprieties at Mississippi State. Again.
To add insult to the deflated dreams, one of the focal points of the Yahoo piece, Nashville seven-on-seven coach Byron De’Vinner, took to the airwaves and said multiple schools attempted to pay the Mississippi State recruit, Will Redmond. None of those schools were named Auburn. Even when pressed by the host who clearly hoped to gain further traction by making an Auburn connection, De’Vinner said no. Auburn wasn’t in it.
You almost feel sorry for the flocking gaggle of vultures that converge on these faux stories hoping to find tiger bones to pick. For them it must be like waking up Christmas morning and finding that not only did Santa leave you nothing, but he set your tree on fire and wiped his boots with your stocking.
How many times are we going to do this?
How many times did your uncle pretend to pull a quarter out of your ear before you finally realized there weren’t actually quarters in there? Once? Twice? How old were you when you figured it out? Six?
There’s no rabbit in the hat, Bullwinkle. There’s no quarter in your ear, kid.
We aren’t sure what it is that makes some of our rivals pant like rabid dogs at the hint of Auburn’s demise. We know it’s part fear, part insecurity, part jealousy perhaps. But we’ll never understand why the anticipation of an Auburn scandal seems to give some greater joy than any success their own program might achieve.
If there is something going on, we want to know. We aren’t afraid of the truth. We weren’t afraid of it in 2010 and we’re not afraid of it now. If Auburn has done something wrong Auburn fans want it made right.
Auburn is the second winningest program in the SEC in the last 31 years. It’s been more than 20 years since the program suffered NCAA sanctions. We’re proud of that and don’t want it to change. If something is amiss, we welcome the chance to bring it out, deal with it and move on.
If it’s all the same, however, we’d prefer our reputation not be smeared based on little more than lunatic rumors, message board gossip and babbling radio hosts.