Over the last few months the Never to Yield Foundation took a step back just to watch the world turn.  And for the most part we liked what we saw.horror_nty

We watched as the amazing 2013 Auburn Tigers flipped the national narrative from negative to positive with their performance on the field and their demeanor off it.

We watched as so many of our detractors faded in the glow of a feel good story for the ages.

We watched as those who once tried to defame us either scurried on to other targets or disappeared into the woodwork.

We watched as national writers picked up the positive vibes that exuded from our head coach Gus Malzahn and our never-say-die football team.

We watched as the world embraced the team that resurrected itself with a miracle against Georgia and then wrote its name in flame with a gritty performance against then top-ranked Alabama; a performance capped by one of the most improbable and thrilling finishes in the history of the sport.

We watched as Tre Mason, Nick Marshall, Ricardo Louis, Dee Ford, Carl Lawson, Chris Davis and Jay Prosch (among others) became household names and represented the program with class, grace and dignity — not to mention incredible tenacity.

We watched as Malzahn racked up coach of the year awards, as the team scored magazine covers and as the players earned individual honors.

There was little we could add to the accolades that poured in from around the country and around the globe for our team and our head coach.

For once we were proud and happy to let the national media do our work for us. So we watched.

We watched with great pride as the rest of the world finally caught on to what the Auburn spirit truly means as embodied in the way the 2013 Tiger team carried itself.

While the rest of the world found something to love about Auburn, the incredible staff and team that created the most dramatic turnaround in the history of college football, and the amazing resiliency that led to not one, but two of the most breathtaking finishes of all time, we also watched with  disappointment as the state media was the lone exception to the passenger list on the Auburn bandwagon.

As expected the media in this state laid low waiting for its chance to ambush.

Maybe state media members weren’t happy that the Auburn story interrupted the anticipated coronation of Alabama as the greatest team of all time, a novel many had been writing since 2009.

Maybe they saw the books they hoped to write about the crimson dynasty turn to ash as the Tiger momentum built over the year and then detonated in a coast-to-coast kickoff return.

Whatever the reason, the state media was reserved at best as the Auburn juggernaut built steam.  We won’t bore you with the details, you saw for yourself if you were one of the unfortunate who visited al.com during bowl season.

You saw the crimson trappings that filled the page on the day of Alabama’s Sugar Bowl loss and a lack of similar Auburn bunting on the day of the BCS title game.

Over the last week the recruitment circus of Rashaan Evans gave the state media an opportunity to get back to what it does best, slinging dirt at Auburn.  It wasted no time turning that molehill into a mountain.

Rashaan Evans, as you surely know, is the son of former Auburn player Alan Evans who had the misfortune of playing the same position as Bo Jackson at the same time one of the greatest running backs in college football history wore Orange and Blue.

Alan Evans and his wife graduated from Auburn,  made their home in Auburn, built their business and earned their livelihood in Auburn, and sent their son to Auburn High School.

Recruited by schools across the country the younger Evans whittled his list down to three schools: Auburn, Alabama and UCLA.

On signing day, in front of a national television audience he chose to attend Alabama. Predictably some in the Auburn community were upset. Not so much because of the decision, but the way in which it was handled.

The details are out there if you care to look. His recruitment became a spectacle that devolved to the point that coaches from rival programs were having dance competitions at his grandfather’s birthday party. The recruiting saga embodied everything that is wrong with the process and then took it two steps further.

While Rashaan Evans typically had little to say, his father seemed to relish the spotlight.

Once an almost forgotten footnote in the ascendance of Bo Jackson, the elder Evans gravitated toward the media attention he once briefly enjoyed 32 years ago. He constantly granted interviews and continually made drama-seeking comments that played one side against the other. From this vantage point he looked like the worst kind of stage dad trying to live a life lost and avenge what he has perceived as past wrongs vicariously through his son.

“A lot of situations that went on with him in college, it still haunts him to this day. Like, he can’t get over it,” said Rashaan of his father in an interview with the Opelika News just prior to signing day. “He still harps on that. He just doesn’t want that to repeat itself, history-wise, with me going to a place and having a bad situation where coaches are dishonest with me and things and I come over there and they tell me I’m going to start and end up being third string like he did.”

Recruits choose Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, LSU and other schools every year.  When the recruiting battle is hotly contested between two schools, particularly rivals, there’s always disappointment from the side that didn’t come out on top. It happens.

The players and their families can expect a little backlash. It’s an unfortunate part of the cycle.

It’s not one we condone, because our position is and has always been that we are happy to have players who want to play for Auburn.

We’ve done pretty well over the years with those players. Auburn has more SEC championships over the last ten years than any other school in the league. Played in two of the last four national championship games.  Currently have one of the nation’s most dynamic and productive offenses.

If a player doesn’t want to be a part of that, we consider it his loss not ours.

Still there are some who take recruiting personally and have in some cases lashed out at a player’s decision. That behavior is hardly limited to Auburn by any stretch of the imagination.

You’d be hard pressed to believe that based on the al.com-fueled reaction from Alan Evans in the wake of his son’s decision to attend Alabama. If al.com were your only source you’d likely believe that social media attacks were created and patented by and exclusive to Auburn fans.

Prior to his son putting on a crimson cap, the elder Evans fretted about fan reaction to his decision and publicly considered a change of venue. Within moments of the announcement, the elder Evans was front and center bemoaning the alleged criticism his son faced.

Given the circumstances of the decision and the manner in which he allowed it to play out, is Evans really surprised that a few people took offense? When you create a monster are you allowed to cry when it snaps at you?

Did Alan Evans truly expect that his barrage of “RTR, LOL” posts to Facebook would be taken in the spirit of fun?  To many they seemed mocking and almost insulting.

evans1When Alan posts pictures of himself with Alabama head coach Nick Saban along with the quote “Now that its over everything is out in the open no more sneaking around lol. Roll Dame Tide (sic)” does he not recognize that fans could easily interpret that to mean his family was not upfront with the Auburn coaches throughout the recruiting process?

If he truly wants the uproar to subside as he claims; if he is really concerned with the reaction and the backlash why does he continue to rattle the cage?

Is it possible that he is afraid that once the current media-fabricated furor finally goes away — as it certainly will — that he too will disappear from the media radar, this time forever?

For reasons still unknown, Rashaan invited two Auburn signees from Opelika to his announcement ceremony. What was the purpose of having them there other than to embarrass them by choosing their biggest rival?

When you make a public spectacle out of the recruitment, when you endeavor to get your name in the paper every single day, and then when it appears as if you and your family specifically set out to, in essence, “rub the other team’s nose in it”, you bring some of that backlash on yourself.

You can’t be a public figure, make a public display and then expect complete privacy. Doesn’t work that way.

Since signing day, Alan Evans has complained long, loudly and bitterly that people have been mean to him and his son on social media. Guess what, that’s part of the game.

The relative anonymity of social media sometimes brings out the worst in people. Just ask Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves or Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers. There was a great story recently in Sports Illustrated about the craziness of social media that detailed both of their dealings with Twitter warriors and Facebook foes.

Alan Evans has groused publicly that he’s heard people plan to boycott his business. These anonymous people have not been identified and no records of any such plans exist beyond his claims. That hasn’t stopped al.com from declaring it as an absolute truth without a shred of evidence to back it up.

Even if it were true, so what?

People have a right to choose. His son chose to play for Alabama. If someone considers that a valid reason to patronize a different store, they have that right. It’s their money and they can spend it where they wish. People have chosen to shop or not shop at a store for reasons far less compelling than that.

Choices have consequences. That’s a fact of life. Decisions, particularly public ones, do not exist in a vacuum.

Does Evans truly think that if his son had chosen UCLA or Auburn that there would be no unhappiness or recoil from Alabama fans?  Is he naïve enough to believe that the entire state would wish him well had Rashaan made a different decision?

Please. Spare us. Ask any number of Auburn recruits from this year (or any other) how graciously their decision was taken by fans of rival schools.

Rashaan Evans is hardly the first to receive critical comments about his decision before, during or after the recruiting process.  He is the first, however, to have his father bawl like a spanked baby and issue public pleas for people to stop being so mean on the Internet.

roc2 roc1Apparently Mr. Evans missed the entire “the Internet is the first and last refuge for the hateful and venomous” movement that has raged for the last two decades.

He thinks Rashaan has it bad? He should talk to Justin Bieber.

Or better yet, just talk to Auburn signee Roc Thomas. Thomas was bashed relentlessly online when he opted to commit to Auburn.

So was Tre Williams.  So was Deshaun Davis. So was DaVonte Lambert. So was Kalvaraz Bessent. So was Andrew Williams. The difference was that none of these signees nor their parents ran crying to the media. Nor did the media have any interest in reporting their plight.

In Evans, however, you have a media outlet so hungry for mud to sling that it unleashed half its staff to document his petulant gripes in multiple articles.

Thank goodness al.com is on the case.  Our beloved state media took a handful of twitter responses and the unsubstantiated complaints of boycotts by Alan Evans and has done its best to shovel that manure to the national media. Some in the national media are buying the steaming load, as they have curiously been all too quick to do in recent years.

Without bothering to verify wild claims of published articles boycotting Evans’s business, this was the topic du jour on ESPN. We have yet to locate this “article”, and highly doubt its existence.

Our friends at al.com are doing their best to spin the story by repeating the same thing constantly, slowly trying to twist the national narrative back toward their preferred “crazy cultish Auburn people” position.

The state media has yet to produce any of these allegedly hateful tweets. In the many articles condemning Auburn fans for their reaction, the best they can come up with are mild comments about Alan getting beaten out by Bo and how he should expect some criticism for “clowning” and disrespecting Auburn.

Oh the humanity!!  Societal norms have been abandoned!! The name of Bo has been invoked, an obvious insult to the fragile Evans psyche!  Chaos rules the streets!! People have actually said in public that they don’t like Rashaan Evans’ decision! How will America survive this national nightmare? Give us a break.

We’d tell Rashaan to grow up, put his big boy panties on and get over himself, but we’re afraid that might make his father cry to the media again.

Despite the fact that only a few slightly ornery anonymous tweets, posts or messages are offered as proof; despite the fact that Alan Evans has done his best to go viral with his “RTR, LOL” schtick and expects no response; despite him rushing to the media to publicly humiliate Auburn at every opportunity, al.com tags us as the crazy ones, and the national media laps it up.

We’re the fanbase that poisons trees. We’re the fanbase that bounces our junk off the forehead of rival fans. We’re the fanbase that has our mothers rehearse WWE off-the-top-rope moves in the Super Dome. We’re the fanbase that invades the home of random Auburn fans in a fit of post-Iron-Bowl-loss rage and assaults them. We’re the fanbase that threatens our own kicker’s life. We’re the fanbase that murders our own kind for not caring enough about a loss. We’re the fanbase that allows boosters to continue to their odd relationship with players and sell their autographed memorabilia out in the open while the NCAA closes its eyes. That was all us. Oh wait…

When Alabama kicker Cade Foster was relentlessly harassed by his team’s own fans after his subpar performance in the Iron Bowl, the reaction at al.com was to essentially ignore those who attacked Foster online and laud the fans and teammates who came to his defense.

Where is that angle today?  For every mildly critical comment about Evans we can show you two dozen from Auburn supporters that wish him well and chastise those who criticize his choice.  That’s not the story al.com wants to tell or hopes to feed to the nation.

We see what you did, al.com.  We know your agenda.

That’s why we weren’t surprised today to see you take completely unrelated social media comments made by someone who is clearly a fan of Oregon State University toward former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend Katherine Webb and attempt to make the tenuous illogical leap of tying them to alleged comments directed at Evans.

Not surprised, but definitely dismayed at your transparent and pathetic attempt to cast Auburn in a negative light.  It’s not like Webb hasn’t been destroyed on social media for a couple of years now by people who dislike her for plenty of reasons that have nothing to do with football.

Still, your crack staff tried to draw the bogus parallel anyway.

We knew you were only biding your time until you felt it was safe to start peddling your smear campaign again. And here you are, just as expected.

We’re here too. We’re not going anywhere. And we’ll keep telling the true story the way it needs to be told.

 

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