For a guy who's never played a single down of college football, Oklahoma Sooner signee Jamarkus McFarland is sure making a lot of headlines.
From the NYT article:
But the best summation of his experience might have come from a paper he wrote for his English class comparing Oklahoma and Texas. The paper, "Red River Rivals Recruit," includes a description of a wild party hosted by Longhorns fans at an upscale hotel in Dallas after the Oklahoma-Texas game on Oct. 11.
"I will never forget the excitement amongst all participants," McFarland wrote. "Alcohol was all you can drink, money was not an option. Girls were acting wild by taking off their tops, and pulling down their pants. Girls were also romancing each other. Some guys loved every minute of the freakiness some girls demonstrated. I have never attended a party of this magnitude."
The rebuke comes from Rivals.com:
McFarland said he embellished a passage taken from the English paper detailing free alcohol and drugs and topless women at a party of Texas fans in Dallas.
"Some things we knew were kind of mixed up because (the reporter) got a paper of mine," McFarland said. "The paper I wrote for an English class - it was spiced up a little bit for class. But a majority of it was correct.
McFarland tells Rivals.com that he and his mother stand by the rest of the article and that the majority of the English paper was not embellished.
Still, it's clear my previous praise of Evans' work was a bit premature if the "best summation of his experience" is, in fact, somewhat fictionalized or "spiced up" as McFarland puts it.
I'd be interested to speak with Evans directly about this, but until that happens I can only speak for myself. As a journalist who has covered a broad range of topics, I would never quote pieces of an unpublished document without first confirming its veracity with the author. While nothing in the article explicitly says so, the reader gets the impression that the English paper is something that McFarland shared with the reporter and was aware the reporter would be making public. That it wasn't (and he didn't) is irresponsible and shady. The English paper is presented as fact in the article. To not have verified it as the legitimate claim of a source is lazy journalism.
It's a shame Evans didn't do his due diligence on this piece. Without this glaring and inexcusable flaw, it could have been a great piece of journalism. Ironically, I don't think Evans needed to use the stuff that was spiced up. Without the bit lifted from the English paper, it's still compelling story. That is -- if he never used that information or had confirmed which parts of it were true instead of quoting it directly, it's still a story worth telling and worth reading. But those are huge 'ifs' considering the situation ...