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Jamarkus McFarland: Oklahoma recruit's English paper was a work of fiction, not fit to print in NYT

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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.

A couple days ago, we praised an article by New York York Times freelancer Thayer Evans that detailed the recruiting process that McFarland and his mother endured. Rivals.com is reporting today that McFarland is denying pieces of the NYT article that were lifted from a paper he wrote for his English class.

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 As a journalist who has covered a broad range of topics, I would never quote pieces of an unpublished document without first confirming its veracity with the author.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 ...

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64 Comments

How can you still compliment this piece of journalism without feeling the need to account for the veracity of the rest of the piece? The article is over the top at every level and has seemingly been written by a University of Oklahoma Athletic Department mercenary.

Please dig deeper for those of us who want to know how much of this story is false.

Kevin Replies: The Rivals.com article reports that McFarland and his mother confirm the rest of the story. As for there being an OU slant, I'd disagree. I don't think OU comes out of this looking any cleaner than any of the other schools. I mentioned in my previous post about this that all parties involved are equally culpable, probably equally shady and operate at equally despicable levels of barely staying within the NCAA recruiting rules. OU included (along with every other major college football program in existence).

How is that article a "great" piece of journalism -- or journalism at all? There are only two sources (mom and kid), both using the piece to tell a story that justifies the decision they made. It's PR, not "journalism". No wonder the print media are dying.

Kevin Replies: It's a "great" piece of journalism because it takes you into a process that is so seldom revealed to the general public. There's been a definite dearth of good recruiting articles in the last couple of years or so.

And print media's not dying because a reporter failed to make your school's athletic department look like its run by a group of saints. I'd think twice before I made claims about the financial health of an entire industry without knowing its ins and outs. For example, I wouldn't claim the reason behind the auto industry's need for a financial bailout is due to the fact that the heater's busted on my buddy's Ford Focus. I may, however, question why I'm friends with poor bastards who are too cheap to get the heat fixed on their crummy cars in the dead of winter.

The fact that you think a fictionalized sensationalist article that smears an innocent university is a "great piece of journalism" shows what a pathetic hack you are. A blog suits you, real journalism is way out of your league.

You praised the original work? You mean the one that interviewed no one other than the prospect and his mother? The one that did not attempt to get a comment from his high school coaches?

Getting the story does not mean the article is well written.

Odd that you would refer to an article fundamentally based on outright malicious lies as "a great pice of journalism". It was a garbage hit piece based on a fantasy.

Kevin Replies What are the 'outright malicious lies' you're referring to? The article wasn't based on the bits of fiction in the English paper. The 'hit piece' focused on the recruiting process as a whole -- which the sources in the article confirmed. If you take the information in the English paper out of the article, all of the information is true, according to McFarland. I know it's tough, but take away the undying love and devotion you have for your team out of the equation and I think you'll realize that there was nothing 'malicious' about this piece. You just feel slighted because Bevo's not lionized. I mean, c'mon anonymous commenter!

"Without this glaring and inexcusable flaw, it's a great piece of journalism and a compelling story."

It may be a compelling story, but it may in fact be largely untrue. Now that the player admits some spicy elements are made up, how can the reader assume the truth of the rest of this exotic dish?

Kevin Replies: He admits that part of an English paper that he wrote for English class and never gave permission to the writer to use were made up. He didn't seek to mislead anyone but his English teacher in this case. Dude's innocent. You have a point though. Even though he and his mom said the rest of the article's true, I suppose it's natural for any reader to maintain a certain level of skepticism.

Mr. Allen,

I am puzzled by this quote from your retraction:

"Without this glaring and inexcusable flaw, it's a great piece of journalism and a compelling story."

So can we infer that with this glaring and inexcusable flaw the piece becomes a hack story for a hack reporter?

This is the second recruitment story in which Mr. Evans has tried to belittle and cast aspersions on the coaches of the University of Texas. He had a similar story on Darrell Scott who was also recruited by UT last year. In that "compelling story" he cited a phone conversation from Mr. Scott and a Texas coach that he heard over a speaker phone without clearance from the coach who thought he was having a private conversation with Mr. Scott. There was no talk of inducements to the recruit, Mr. Evans just wanted to embarrass the coach.

I hope you do get to talk to Mr. Evans about the McFarland story and if you do please ask him who he got the school paper from. My bet is that it didn't come for JaMarkus but his mother.

Kevin Replies: Any sports journalist I've ever met has had the ability to check his fan hat at the door when it comes to his craft. In fact, for many sports journalists, covering a certain topic extracts any possibility or desire for fan-related loyalty to one team or another (unless, of course, you're Joe Buck and you infuse your hatred -- or is it jealousy -- of the city of Chicago into every broadcast where a Chicago team's involved). I just can't imagine that Evans -- or any reporter -- would actually care enough where some spoiled 18-year-old is going to go play college football while he's struggling to pay off student loans. But it's a good point you bring up and something that should be pointed out whenever it applies.

I'm not sure you can call the rest of the article, outside of the fact that the English paper was a work of embellishment, a "great piece of journalism." The author has a single source for all of his so called "facts" in the article. The player's mother, Ms. Adams is the sole source of quotes. All quotations from Jamarkus McFarland originate from the English paper. The mother is obviously also the person that gave her son's English paper to Thayer.

It is fairly obvious from the quotes attributed to her in the article that she is not unbiased, so the veracity of her claims is suspect. Those that have followed this recruiting saga have known for a while that McFarland wanted to come to Texas but his mother was doing everything in her power to stop that. That is even alluded to in the NYT article.

Also, shouldn't a journalist at least try to contact a quoted party to get their side of the story? Was there an attempt to contact coach Brown about the comments attributed to him (in quotations) in the NYT articles? How about the statements that were attributed to Will Muschamp? Mac McWhorter? They are all pretty easy to contact. The NYT should have no trouble getting their contact information. Sorry, but that is not acceptable journalism.

It has been reported on several fan sites for a few weeks that Mack Brown was backing off of McFarland due to the fact that many people close to the McFarlands were indicating that incentives were offered to the family to entice his comittment to OU.

I am sure that all connected to The University of Texas would embrace an NCAA investigation into this whole mess.

You still admire the article knowing the author apparently stole a school boy's paper and published items in it with out fact checking? What about all the other "facts" in the article. Aren't you compelled to assume that they received a similar level of scrutiny (or lack of scrutiny)?

You will notice that only one person is quoted in the article. You will also notice that no attempt is referenced to check these claims with the kid's H.S. coaches, LSU, USC or Texas to see their sides of the story. Is lazy the correct word, or is there another word for it? Makes me start thinking about Stephen Glass.

Kevin Replies: If you read the article without the falsehoods in the English paper, it's still relevant -- how is it not? Should he have gotten more sources? Probably. Should he have published parts of the English paper? Absolutely not. Because the article could have stood alone without it.

Funny you mention Stephen Glass. It will be interesting to see what the fallout is from the New York Times side of things after this.

I would ask how any story not vetted can be called "a great piece of journalism and a compelling story"?

I would invite you investigate the story yourself. You will most likely come to the conclusion that not only is the entire story a fabrication, but was orchestrated in its entirety by the author, Mr. Thayer, over the last six or more months. Additionally, further investigation of Mr. Thayer will demonstrate that this is not a one-time occurrence by this author.

Kevin Replies: I think you're giving way too much credit to a reporter who, I'm guessing, probably does not have any feelings one way or another about the success or failure of these college football programs.

The paper being used in the article without permission or knowledge from MacFarland is just one example of lazy journalism. Why are only 2 people (MacFarland and his overbearing mother) quoted in the article? Why are their accusations about Texas printed without verification from any additional sources? Why was MacFarland's high school coach not interviewed? JM's mother claims that his coach wanted to steer him to Texas, but anybody who has any knowledge of Texas high school football knows that Lufkin is an Aggie town and it is highly doubtful that his coach tried to "steer" him anywhere. But we'll never know because Thayer Evans never bothered to talk to the high school coach. Even without the "glaring and inexcusable flaw", this is NOT a great piece of journalism and is not a compelling story... it is simply a stream of drivel written by an Oklahoma homer that is trying to make a name for himself. Just look at his other work and you can see that he is far from unbiased. Instead of being a journalist, Evans is just a hack.

That's the only flaw here...really? In the article, all information comes from one source, the recruit's mother. She makes allegations against the Texas coaching staff, USC coaching staff, LSU coaching staff...and even the Lufkin head coach. Yet, not a single member of these coaching staffs, nor Coach Outlaw were interviewed for the article to refute anything McFarland's mother said.

And according to others who have followed this recruiting saga closely, there are many, many more inaccuracies portrayed by his mother that would have come to light, had the writer here bothered to interview anyone else.

Also, take a look at the writer here...where is he from? Oklahoma. To what team does he dedicate 95% of blog? Oklahoma. And he wrote an almost identical one-sided article last year bad-mouthing Texas where he interviewed pretty much only the recruit's mother.

Kevin Replies: Reading these comments is starting to give me the feeling that the real beef people have with the article is that it doesn't cast the University of Texas in a positive light. We have a governor here who didn't like newspapers casting him in a negative light so he went out and complained about it. It worked well for Blago; I can only assume it will work just as well for Longhorn supporters.

As a college football fan and Notre Dame alum, I thought it was an interesting article, but not "great journalism". There are many flaws in this type of reporting, even without the shady english paper. My main problem is there are no quotes from the other side of the story. Did he ask the Lufkin head coach for his opinion. What about Texas' or LSU's side of the story. I think it is a lazy article, and if I didn't know better, an article written by a man with an agenda.

Kevin Replies: Well put. However, I may be jaded, but I imagine LSU, USC and Texas' side of the story would have been "no comment" or "when it comes to recruiting, you win some; you lose some." And his high school coach, hoping that these schools return to Lufkin in the future to recruit more of his players, would have offered nothing even remotely resembling criticism or even a compelling sound bite. What do you think?


Thank you for writing this side of the story. I suspect most will just run with the spiced up part. The source of this story is the Mom who decided OU the better school for her son, who wanted UT.
As a UT fan it is frustrating to know this will be a bad mark on our program which has lost to OU a lot lately in everything except on the field play. Not many people would know that UT won 3 out of the last 4 games head to head, and that UT has won 4 straight bowl, while OU has lost 4 straight. OU jumps us in the poll after we beat them on the field, they have been on countless probations for cheating, and we are going to be the ones looking bad....

Amazing that the Sun Times still praises the NYT article as great journalism minus the fact that the major allegation has become exposed as fiction.

How can a story consisting of quotations only from McFarland and his mother be regarded as good journalism? No mention of the authors' close ties with the oklahoma school or the fact that school is currently on NCAA probation for recruiting violations? No confirmation of the claims from the boy's high school football coach? Not a single detail provided to back up all the wild claims, no names, no places, no letters, nothing.

How does the article even in the least represent good journalism? The Sun Times should be embarrassed.

Dude. Speaking of embarrassed, your reading comprehension skills are seriously lacking. Remind me not to come to you if I ever need help studying for the GRE. What I clearly stated was that the information in McFarland's English paper is not even needed to make the article interesting. It's a compelling read without it. You could take that entire segment out and the article could still stand with information that was entirely confirmed. It's a hypothetical.

And what close ties does the reporter have other than covering the team? You do know that certain reporters have 'beats' and those 'beats' comprise all that they cover. We have beat writers for each major team in the Chicagoland area. So what you call 'close ties' is most likely what we call a 'beat.'

And without knowing which part of the paper was embellished, you can't really say that the entire thing has been exposed as fiction, can you? He did say most of it is true. Which would mean only a small part of it is fiction.

"Without this glaring and inexcusable flaw, it's a great piece of journalism and a compelling story."

aka

"Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"

As a fellow J school grad, I can't believe the editors of the NYT allowed this piece to run with a single source. There are scathing allegations made against a number of very high profile academic institutions that sport some of the most influential men and women in business and sports. This is the type of shoddy reporting that gives us a bad name, yet provides an amazing opportunity to do the follow-up of a lifetime.

Kevin Replies: You make an excellent point. There's clearly a deeper story here.

An opportunity presents itself: an article at another national newspaper has already been shown to have at least some flaws. A great journalist, having already commented on said article, might be interested to dig a little and find out how much truth, if any, lies behind it.

Take the loan for example: if the offer is true, it's a major recruiting violation and opens a bank up to corruption charges. If false, it's lible and/or slander. Which is it? We know what Evans wants us to believe. Why don't you try to find out what we should believe?

Take the party in Dallas. JM's tickets came from OU, and he did not interact with anyone associated with UT during or after the game. Did he know about the party ahead of time and go on his own? Did someone from his OU section take him? Did his mother take him?

Take the comments attributed to Mack Brown regarding his house. Does anyone who knows Mack Brown think that this is a comment he would ever make?

Take the widespread rumors about money from OU being the reason UT backed off on JM. Evans didn't feel the need to comment on this at all, yet OU is one of the most penalized programs in NCAA history and is even now on probation in football and basketball. Do you think that these rumors should be corroborated or refuted if one is to accuse Texas of offering to pay a player?

You are the one who felt the need to bring this scandle to your readers attention. I for one feel it is now your obligation to do a little digging. Coach Outlaw is easy to reach. You might want to start there.

An opportunity presents itself: an article at another national newspaper has already been shown to have at least some flaws. A great journalist, having already commented on said article, might be interested to dig a little and find out how much truth, if any, lies behind it.

Take the loan for example: if the offer is true, it's a major recruiting violation and opens a bank up to corruption charges. If false, it's lible and/or slander. Which is it? We know what Evans wants us to believe. Why don't you try to find out what we should believe?

Take the party in Dallas. JM's tickets came from OU, and he did not interact with anyone associated with UT during or after the game. Did he know about the party ahead of time and go on his own? Did someone from his OU section take him? Did his mother take him?

Take the comments attributed to Mack Brown regarding his house. Does anyone who knows Mack Brown think that this is a comment he would ever make?

Take the widespread rumors about money from OU being the reason UT backed off on JM. Evans didn't feel the need to comment on this at all, yet OU is one of the most penalized programs in NCAA history and is even now on probation in football and basketball. Do you think that these rumors should be corroborated or refuted if one is to accuse Texas of offering to pay a player?

You are the one who felt the need to bring this scandle to your readers attention. I for one feel it is now your obligation to do a little digging. Coach Outlaw is easy to reach. You might want to start there.

Sounds like mama had the hots for the ou recruiter. Also, smacks of reverse racism. Mama should be a part of that Illinois political system. She would fit right in.

You must be relatively new to the journalism business if you think that was "a great piece of journalism." Even a journalism 101 student can recognize a hatchet job when it's so blatantly obvious.

I certainly hope the Sun Times is a little more diligent and particular when it comes to printing freelance drivel.

It is so obvious to anyone with a brain that this momma got busted for having her hand out and then turned around and made the same accusations against UT. The reporter had to know she had an axe to grind and was not telling the truth about the illegal inducements. I can't believe is idiot ran with that story and still has a job.

"I don't think OU comes out of this looking any cleaner than any of the other schools."
-Kevin

High comedy, right there, Mr. Allen. I know you are completely unbiased, but there is absolutely zero support for that statement based on the original hit piece.

"It's a "great" piece of journalism because it takes you into a process that is so seldom revealed to the general public."

The standards must have dropped a bit since I took Intro to Journalism.

You'd love this piece I'm working on about my bowel movements.

If someone lies to you and is then exposed about a certain aspect of that lie, why are you so willing to believe that the rest of their story is true? Moreover, if the source is willing to "spice" things up for an English paper, then it's just as believable that he would do the same for the New York Times.

Liars rarely tell one lie.

Kevin,

Thanks for responding but man are you serious? Really?

First off his "job" at the NYT is blogger for OU athletics. I wouldn't say that makes him a unbiased sports journalist.

While it is true no UT or OU coach would talk to him due to NCAA rules the HS coach could. We only want him to verify the coach "steered" or encouraged him to go to UT. That would at least "verify" parts of his story. This would not hurt either the coach, mother or kid. However it appears that is too much work for Mr. Evans.

As for UT fans being upset, well please set up a meeting with your editor in chief there and present this same style of story about the governor. Then tell him your only source is the person making the allegations. Do you think they would feel free to print it?

Kevin,
Your responses suggest that you believe that everything in the article is correct except for the information related to the English paper. Why do you think that?

The article is poorly researched. Its obvious inaccuracies (such as OU being the host, not Texas) make clear that the original author did not investigate the more sensational passages of the article. How that fails to create doubt in your mind as to the author's diligence with respect to the article in general is beyond me.

The author wrote an article on recruiting that effectively lobs grenades at Texas, LSU, and USC. However, it paints Oklahoma in a positive light. Your purported interest in the article is that it addresses the under-reported underbelly of recruiting. That being the case, isn't it relevant to note that Oklahoma is the only school on probation out of the bunch?

Mrs. Adams confirmed her comments. Does that make them accurate? Do you believe that it is good journalism to base such an incendiary article solely on the word of one person with an agenda? If so, you and I have a starkly different view of the appropriate level of diligence a writer should use in investigating a potential article.

Kevin Replies: Again, the schools aren't going to comment, confirm or deny anything when it comes to their own recruiting practices to anyone in the media. The high school coach certainly isn't going to say anything bad about a school that he hopes will come back and recruit future players at his school. If a source talks to you, you quote them and they confirm what is written, in this case there's not much more you can do. What difference does it make if any of the football programs are on probation? They all come out looking equally culpable in this. It's an altogether despicable process. What I'm insisting is that the only people upset about this article and this whole situation are Texas fans because they lost out on a football player who will never actually matter to their program anyway. Was Texas worse off because Tommie Harris played for Oklahoma? It's really not going to matter in the end.

You and everyone else should have stopped reading the article when he quoted momma for saying that Mack was bragging about his house being bigger and better than Bob Stoops house. That is elementary journalism and I can't believe this guy can support himself off of the crap he writes.

You and everyone else should have stopped reading the article when he quoted momma for saying that Mack was bragging about his house being bigger and better than Bob Stoops house. That is elementary journalism and I can't believe this guy can support himself off of the crap he writes.

"I'm guessing, probably does not have any feelings one way or another about the success or failure of these college football programs."

The author of the original article is from Oklahoma.
Maybe you need to go back to journalism school - or, at least a credible one such as the University of Texas.

Here's how journalistic integrity works...

A pro-Oklahoma/anti-Texas article is written by someone with an obvious bias. Said article has no sources. Said article is eventually retracted by the parent newspaper for falsehoods. Said article is further sullied by the original source who claims that "he made some of it up."

This is the point at which you throw the article in the trash; not admire it.

All you have to do is a google search of the author of that "great piece of journalism" - the idiot writes almost exclusively about the Oklahoma football team. I can't believe the NYT printed one sided drivel written by a fan of the team.

The standards newspapers have these days are pathetic. No wonder they're all going into bankruptcy.

Again, to rehash what the others have said above me: how can anyone praise something where diligence was not exercised? Getting one side of a story is great journalism? Is that the standard you use to research and enlighten yourself with? That is an extremely ignorant and lazy way to learn. But maybe what is expected of the academia is not fit for journalists. That would be much like stating the sky is blue, however you seem to think you guys are not in the business to entertain and make $$$. You are here to report news without an angle or bias. Sure you are.

You make comments about reporters being un-biased like it's some sworn code, and that rarely is the case. Every reporter has an agenda, some more slanted than others. You obviously are not aware of the culture in the state of Oklahoma, where everything Texas Longhorns is cursed and hated. If I were raised there I would be the same way. Take a look at this "reporter's" history, and it's quite clear this guy will be not be wearing Texas gear anytime soon.

If you don't understand why this would anger Texas fans, after losing a title shot and Heisman to a team that most believe shouldn't have been there over us, then I don't know what to tell you. It's a slap in the face. It'd hurt a hell of a lot more if it were somewhat plausible, but what do we believe? Only part of it, some here, some there, all of it? Oh, that's right we don't know because this reporter limited his sources to a player and mother who is committed to our biggest rival.

I'm going to write an article on the United States, but only use a bunch of quotes from Hugo Chavez and his mother, and call it great journalism.

Again, to rehash what the others have said above me: how can anyone praise something where diligence was not exercised? Getting one side of a story is great journalism? Is that the standard you use to research and enlighten yourself with? That is an extremely ignorant and lazy way to learn. But maybe what is expected of the academia is not fit for journalists. That would be much like stating the sky is blue, however you seem to think you guys are not in the business to entertain and make $$$. You are here to report news without an angle or bias. Sure you are.

You make comments about reporters being un-biased like it's some sworn code, and that rarely is the case. Every reporter has an agenda, some more slanted than others. You obviously are not aware of the culture in the state of Oklahoma, where everything Texas Longhorns is cursed and hated. If I were raised there I would be the same way. Take a look at this "reporter's" history, and it's quite clear this guy will be not be wearing Texas gear anytime soon.

If you don't understand why this would anger Texas fans, after losing a title shot and Heisman to a team that most believe shouldn't have been there over us, then I don't know what to tell you. It's a slap in the face. It'd hurt a hell of a lot more if it were somewhat plausible, but what do we believe? Only part of it, some here, some there, all of it? Oh, that's right we don't know because this reporter limited his sources to a player and mother who is committed to our biggest rival.

I'm going to write an article on the United States, but only use a bunch of quotes from Hugo Chavez and his mother, and call it great journalism.

"Without this glaring and inexcusable flaw, it could have been a great piece of journalism."

Just like Orson Welles broadcast of "War of the Worlds" 'could have been a great piece of journalism'. Too bad they both lacked one small requirement: truth.

Tell it like it is---"Spiced up" is a euphamism for false statements. LSU, UT and USC won't tolerate being lied about. The NCAA will conduct a full investigation into this matter--you can count on it. Maybe a real journalist will get to the truth. It has yet to be written.

A general observation: To me, this blog is the most blatant/festering example of how the Sun-Times has screwed the pooch in terms of leveraging its once considerable brand in local sports coverage online.

Instead of encouraging the fatuous Mr. Allen and Mr. Koster to continue providing their remarkably inane patter--can we say bad Deadspin rip-off?--I wish the Sun-Times leadership would do a better job of convincing its talented stalwarts (Mulligan, Harris, Telander et al) to use the web and its bevy of multimedia storytelling tools to their fullest. The Ebert model (http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/) is certainly a good place to start.

Then my favorite paper might survive in one form or another, while also giving me an excuse to seek it out multiple time throughout the day.

Kevin Replies: Pardon me if being called 'fatuous' doesn't really register when it comes from an anonymous commenter. The anonymity of the Web affords us the opportunity to say things we'd never say to another person in face-to-face conversation. While we encourage your comments, it's interesting that the most venomous ones come with neither a name nor an e-mail address attached. It indicates to me that you probably don't truly believe what you write. Or at least aren't nearly as passionate about the subject as you claim.

And, sir or madam -- we do thank you kindly for reading Sports Pros(e) and the Sun-Times and encourage your not-so-anonymous comments in the future.

Kevin Allen

Thayer Evans is an OU fan who was born and bred in Oklahoma. I think that says all that needs to be said about his "article".

Kevin Replies: By your rationale, then, anyone in the While House press corps over the past eight years would have to be a fan of George Bush. Because obviously, if you are a journalist covering a particular topic that makes you a fan of said topic?

"It's a "great" piece of journalism because it takes you into a process that is so seldom revealed to the general public."


I thought that journalism involved digging up information, verifying facts, quoting sources, examining things from multiple standpoints, etc in an effort to get to the bottom of the story. This wasn't journalism - Evans was spoon fed every detail of the story. He was just a mouthpiece for the McFarlands. It is a great story, however.

"What I'm insisting is that the only people upset about this article and this whole situation are Texas fans because they lost out on a football player who will never actually matter to their program anyway. Was Texas worse off because Tommie Harris played for Oklahoma? It's really not going to matter in the end." -Kevin


If that's what you're insisting, then I have to disagree. Texas fans are the most upset, that much is true. It is not, however, because JM is going to play for OU. Plenty of great players go to OU every year, and Calvin Howell and Derek Johnson should more than suffice for Texas.

The reason Texas fans are upset is because an OU fan has succeeded in getting hatchet jobs against UT into the NYT two years in a row without a shred of evidence to support his accusation. Further, in the nation's eyes, he has succeeded in making it look like Texas was the school offering illegal incentives despite the widespread belief amongst those who actually make a living covering recruiting in the region that exactly the opposite is true.

If OU succeeds in winning a commitment from a talented player, that's fine. If an OU fan can succeed in lambasting UT in the NYT when the actual evidence is to the contrary, that's not okay.

I also disagree with the point you made earlier when you argued that that OU being the only school of those listed on probation doesn't matter. I think it's very relevant to consider historical president when deciding whether an article is to be believed.

The bottom line is this: in any business the first rule is to never assume. In this case, you violated that rule by assuming (1) that the author had no agenda, (2) that the article was factual, and (3) that the NYT had bothered to do some fact checking. A MUCH better approach would have been to trust but verify. If you had, you might have realized that the real story here is that the NYT couldn't be bothered to ask the important questions (where was this party? How did he get there? Who with? Who was the banker? etc..) and couldn't be bothered to do some basic fact checking.

You may not be guilty of having a malicious agenda as Mr Evans is, but you are certainly guilty of not bothering to engage in fact checking. Again, I invite you to do so.

Texas fans, I can assure you, would like nothing more than for some real investigative reporting to be done here. If Texas were guilty as charged, I can assure you that exactly the opposite would be the case.

I encourage you to take a step back and look objectively at the whole situation. It's all too easy to become defensive when met with criticism.

Kevin--You fail to see the relevance of Oklahoma's probation?

Texas looks worse than the other schools mentioned. Your comments clearly belie the fact that you believe all of the schools are the same. That's not true. That's analogous to saying that all politicians resemble Illinois's governor, which is both inaccurate and insulting.

I don't claim to speak for Texas fans. In fact, I'm a UW fan. More than anything else, I despite dishonest journalism and that is precisely what this article is.

How responsible is it for a journalist (and let's be honest here, his pedigree doesn't exactly scream NYT) to base an article that very clearly paints Texas in a poor light on only the words of a mother who seems quite biased. A journalist should not publish an article that the writer cannot fully support.

Recruiting is very shady and often disgusting. However, that does not give a writer license to cast all schools as the same. They aren't.

Oklahoma's history speaks for itself. That school comes out of this smelling like a Rose. It's absurd for you to suggest that all schools look equally culpable. They don't. The mother insulted Mack Brown, not Pete Carroll.

The author of the article certainly had a duty to exhibit more diligence before writing an incendiary article. Apparently, sensationalism (and bias) won the day. This isn't cause for celebration. In a decent world, journalists don't write irresponsible pieces no matter how interesting the topic.

How can you say this guy is unbiased, go look at his body of work as of late for the NYT quad section, every article he has written is about OU. He is from Oklahoma. It is beyond me how someone writing for a national papter, the times, can only write about one University's athletics to begin with. If it was the Norman paper or the OU paper I could understand but for the NYT? This is a completely one sided account, one of the funnier pieces to me talks about how UT cut the family out of the recruiting process and only went through the school, that was because momma cut them out and would not allow them in the house. And how could she not get ahold of Mack, she had his personal cell phone number and has had it for a while, why all of a sudden is she going through another coach to contact him. It does not make sense, just because the story is interesting does not make it more than a story and I really do think you shot yourself in the foot giving credit to this joker. If these are the standards journalists hold each other to, than I have serious doubts about the whole profession. If you have not seen Orangebloods' rebuttal to this article, please do so, and Evans better come out and talk about this instead of hiding behind it, by making serious accusations of NCAA rules violations you better be able to back up your story.

http://texas.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=893523

Flawed journalism or not, Texas fans posting here bring the usual hypocrisy....pointing fingers at everyone else, and more so to OU. Maybe Mrs. McFarland didn't want her son in Austin because she fears the atmosphere of drug use and even violence...well documented with incidents involving players there. Every program has its warts, not to mention its boosters. The whole Southwest Conference collapsed as a result of some pretty ugly ones.

I certainly don't think Texas is a dirty program, but sometimes it seems there's a mighty big rug in Austin and plenty of lawyers with brooms. So, Longhorns, keep your shirts on. Pun intended.

Anyone else see the irony? Kevin Allenon has the audacity to belittle those who can see right through this hack job and righteously criticize the journalistic integrity. In addition, Mr Allenon adds dumber to dumb by claiming UT, LSU, and USC should not defend themselves from such a bogus attack. However, Mr. Allenon seems compelled to defend himself upon having his seriously confused (or lack of)journalistic integrity questioned. I think we can all add hypocrite to the list of descriptives of the sad, sad Mr. Allenon.

A story is only compelling if it is well-sourced and true. This story is nether. It is a hit piece pure and simple.

Have you examined the previous articles by Thayer as well as his background? He went to school in Oklahoma and has published at least 20 articles favorable to OU over the last several months. This is all on the NY Times blog where this story originated. Thayer also wrote a hit piece earlier this year about the recruitment of Darrell Scott (which was a battle between Colorado and Texas). Do you really think he is objectively reporting a compelling story?

The mother alleges serious NCAA recruiting violations and yet there is no source for this other than her? There are no names, dates, or details mentioned. How is this objective journalism? How is this a compelling story? How do you know that she isn't just making it up? Wouldn't a journalist dig just a tad deeper or at least require that she name names? There is a huge history of serious recruiting violations by Oklahoma and there is no such history with Texas. You can claim that they all do it, but the NCAA records reveal otherwise particularly when it comes to paying players. In fact, Oklahoma is currently on probation for Big Red Autos illegally paying players (including seniors on the team). Wouldn't or shouldn't this make an "objective" journalist wonder about claims going the opposite direction?

Just a few weeks before McFarland's mother made her spurious claim against Texas, the mother was the subject of internet rumors that she had been offered financial inducements by Oklahoma and that she had attempted to get Texas to match or increase the offer. Texas refused to participate. The internet rumor was that this caused Texas to back off the recruitment. This claim is partially confirmed by the e-mail in the story where Texas backs off the recruitment until the family can get on the same page.

The mother's and grandmother's feigned and utterly irrational response to this e-mail from Texas should raise a huge red flag. How can you possibly be insulted that Texas wants the family to be on the same page before continuing with the recruitment? Their outrage only makes sense if you add the context that Texas was refusing to do what Oklahoma did which was pay money for the commitment of McFarland. When someone does or says something that makes no sense (ie is utterly irrational) doesn't an "objective" journalist have a duty to figure out what the real motivation was or at least ask highly critical questions? Was this done?

I hope the "truth" eventually comes out in this saga because I am about 98% certain that I know which school will lose the ultimate battle just like it did in Dallas on the field in October.

"Again, the schools aren't going to comment, confirm or deny anything when it comes to their own recruiting practices to anyone in the media."
Schools are forbidden to comment on recruits until after the signing date, therefore none of the coaches can comment legally in this period. They could, however, probably confirm or deny quotes and talk about matters not directly related to the recruit.

"The high school coach certainly isn't going to say anything bad about a school that he hopes will come back and recruit future players at his school."
How would you (or the author) know if you don't talk to them? There's over 1,200 head football coaches in Texas; who's to presume they are alike? Recruiters come to a school because of the players - which even at a big (5A) school are relatively rare, especially the 5-star level. The coach is in the catbird seat, not the recruiters; he has access and the professional insight to the player. While HS football coaches can be politically adept, that doesn't mean they won't be truthful or have solid insight into the situation. You slander them with presumption; their jobs don't depend on outside recruiters but with their community and their success within it.

"What difference does it make if any of the football programs are on probation? They all come out looking equally culpable in this. It's an altogether despicable process."
Historical basis should tell you that a program with continued and ongoing probation is more likely to be the aggressor and to push the edge. To say those schools are equally culpable is to damn all of them, which you do with the phrase "altogether despicable process." In fact, is it despicable? With thousands of players going through this every year, with 400 or so from Texas, the largest provider, it should be obvious to you that such a marketplace phenomena is not despicable for the vast majority, that there is are legal formalities and a thick rulebook guiding contacts and behavior. You're indicting parents, schools and players with one brush and, in doing so, exposing your own ignorance of what transpires. There is a vast amount of information about this and you, obviously, know only a small amount of it, much less what happens on the ground in Texas. Sure, there are provocative stories over time, but they are provocative precisely because they are the exceptions. While modern recruiting has been cleaned up, the NCAA still does a poor job in this respect, because self-policing and self-reporting is the general rule.

"...Texas fans because they lost out on a football player..."
And finally this: it is not about the player, it is about negative recruiting, about being able now to produce a piece of paper from the NYT with a hit-piece of an article to smear those schools mentioned. This is not about a one-hit wonder, soon gone, but the ability to inject this into the process. Being somewhat aware of Chicago or national politics, you should be aware of how well negative elements play even if they are lies. Unless you are so naive to believe no one would use this...

Last, there was at least one, if not more, witness at that party in question, to that behavior there, everyone's behavior. It was through one of those witnesses that the "spice" comment came out on JM's Facebook page and then reiterated later on Rivals.com. You could also go to the intro video comments at the Army All-American Game where these players are now gathering in San Antonio. Very interesting stuff on the ground.

You seriously need to reconsider your statement.

Like you, I think this type of article makes for a compelling story. I find no fault in someone really enjoying that aspect of the article. BUT, there is a difference between a documentary and a movie "based on actual events," no? Both can be very compelling stories. Only one is supposed to wholly accurate. The other CREATES the most compelling story by flavoring in such a way as to get the best outcome (whatever the intended outcome is). No one calls a movie "based on actual events" journalism. Certainly not good journalism.

1. I read journalism all the time. I can't tell you how many times I've read or heard the phrases "calls to _________ were not returned" and "_________ declined to comment." It is obvious that the truth was not the goal here, the compelling story was. Assuming that no one would talk to Thayer is more an excuse for his laziness or bias, in my opinion. There might be a baby in the bath water.

2. I'm assuming you didn't actually know Thayer's previous articles and any tendency to be biased or not. That's fine. While I agree that biased fans from schools may be angry, that doesn't mean that Thayer isn't biased. Biased people accusing a biased person of being unconcerned about facts just means it takes more work to sort it all out, for those of us who want to know the truth.

3. One of the biased (therefore motivated) people was Geoff Ketchum. If it matters at all (which it probably shouldn't to people who don't care that much about the schools...unless one is trying to dissect the level of journalism) read his article: http://texas.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=893523 It does show how each school was portrayed by the author.


While I agree that it is a compelling story, to me it doesn't seem to be a high level of journalism.

You have to be kidding me? Other than what turned out to be a blatant lie, this was a "great" piece of journalism?!

If the English paper reference can't be believed, you have to also question how many other inaccuracies and falsehoods are in the NYT piece. The rest of the article is substantiated by MacFarland & his mother? Wonderful. Where's the verification?

In the court of law (and public opinion), reasonable doubt reigns the day. The aroma from this piece certainly would lead a reasonable person to question the veracity of Mr. Thayer's article - or at least his sources.

That, sir, is the problem with the print media today. In the rush to sensationalism, verification is an afterthought. Shame on you, Mr. Allen, for continuing to lend credibility to this sham.

Thayer Evans used to write for Sooners Illustrated ( http://oklahoma.scout.com/2/273160.html ). One thing you have to understand about Thayer Evans is that he tends to slander Oklahoma State and the University of Texas with the smallest shred of evidence.

He really places a terrible stigma on all journalist's, you of all people should hat him for that.

Forget the obvious bias in the article, and the reliance on a aingle source with no apparent investigation into any of the serious charges made...

How can you call it "great journalism" when the lede is so clearly buried? You're talking about several recruiting violations - at least one very serious violation - involving a school which has a long-term reputation as one of the "good-guys", with a coach who is highly regarded and reputedly runs a clean program. And you just throw those in almost as asides? You also have the article impugning the reputation of a long-time, highly regarded high school coach - again, with no detail or corroboration or even an opportunity to respond...

Come on. If there is any merit whatsoever in a single one of these charges, you've got dynamite in your hands. Serious allegations of recruiting impropriety against a university/football program which prides itself as clean - and from a story standpoint, these occurring in a battle against one of the most-penalized, shadiest-historied programs in college football history - it's downright delicious with irony and subtext. And these items are just casually mentioned, without the slightest indication that any effort was taken to dig into them further? This is what you call "great journalism"?

Whether there's any actual substance to these allegations (if so - fabulous story, if not - again a fabulous story, because you dig into why anyone would make such spectacular accusations without foundation) or not, the fact is that this "great journalism" ignores any of the implications and makes it a one-sided story of one young man's recruitment. And even there, if the rumors that the kid wanted one school and was being pushed by mother and grandmother (two women, who, by all indications did a fabulous job of raising a good young man) into another - what a story that would be. Again, the article never delves into the potentially fascinating subject, even to debunk the fairly widespread rumors that the dynamic existed... Basically, you're left with a pretty vanilla story "spiced up" by allegations, the most spectacular of which has already been debunked, which manages to bury some spectacular information and ignore fascinating human dynamics of the story.

But it manages to pass your "great journalism" criteria. Why is that again???

Forget the obvious bias in the article, and the reliance on a aingle source with no apparent investigation into any of the serious charges made...

How can you call it "great journalism" when the lede is so clearly buried? You're talking about several recruiting violations - at least one very serious violation - involving a school which has a long-term reputation as one of the "good-guys", with a coach who is highly regarded and reputedly runs a clean program. And you just throw those in almost as asides? You also have the article impugning the reputation of a long-time, highly regarded high school coach - again, with no detail or corroboration or even an opportunity to respond...

Come on. If there is any merit whatsoever in a single one of these charges, you've got dynamite in your hands. Serious allegations of recruiting impropriety against a university/football program which prides itself as clean - and from a story standpoint, these occurring in a battle against one of the most-penalized, shadiest-historied programs in college football history - it's downright delicious with irony and subtext. And these items are just casually mentioned, without the slightest indication that any effort was taken to dig into them further? This is what you call "great journalism"?

Whether there's any actual substance to these allegations (if so - fabulous story, if not - again a fabulous story, because you dig into why anyone would make such spectacular accusations without foundation) or not, the fact is that this "great journalism" ignores any of the implications and makes it a one-sided story of one young man's recruitment. And even there, if the rumors that the kid wanted one school and was being pushed by mother and grandmother (two women, who, by all indications did a fabulous job of raising a good young man) into another - what a story that would be. Again, the article never delves into the potentially fascinating subject, even to debunk the fairly widespread rumors that the dynamic existed... Basically, you're left with a pretty vanilla story "spiced up" by allegations, the most spectacular of which has already been debunked, which manages to bury some spectacular information and ignore fascinating human dynamics of the story.

But it manages to pass your "great journalism" criteria. Why is that again???

Kevin, this has absolutely nothing to do with losing the player. Texas, LSU, and USC lose players all of the time. They just go on to the next one. This is about slandering high profile universities with charges that could give them the death penalty in college football. And, its about a reckless lack of journalistic integrity. It almost feels as if Mrs. Adams was the writer of this story. As if she had an agenda, and that Mr. Evans didn't bother to get the facts straight because they might ruin the story. I agree with you that there is a REAL story here, and I'd sure like to hear it.

Kevin-

First off, I appreciate you even taking the time to read my e-mail; I'm sure you get tons of them. Second, I just read your article on the Jamarkus McFarland recruiting saga. I agreed with many of your points. However, as a Texas alum, I'm a bit troubled by the lack of fact finding by the news outlets that have covered this story. While Thayer Evans' article was breathtaking in its insight into the world of high school recruiting, it was not only one sided, but written with the intent of causing shame to The University of Texas.

You see, Thayer Evans, though he did not attend the University of Oklahoma, is a passionate OU fan. In fact, his relationship with the New York Times is almost 100% based on his coverage of OU. A quick glance at his NYT blog leaves little doubt where his heart & passions lie. Every single article he has written is about Oklahoma, and all of them are effusive in their praise of the players, coaches and program. And, while many a journalist has tried to deflect claims of bias by saying that Evans didn’t even attend OU, an intelligent person realizes that the overwhelming majority of a college teams’ fans did not attend said university. If you’re a diehard Sooner with collegiate basketball aspirations, but a lacking in D1 talent, take your talents to whatever college offers you a free ride, and continue to bleed Sooner red. For what it's worth, one of Evans first blog posts from 2+ years ago details growing up an OU fan and dreaming of playing for Kelvin Sampson.

Also, as anyone who covers college football knows, Texas & OU are bitter rivals. Are we to believe that a journalist whose passion is covering and writing about Oklahoma football is going to somehow summon up even an ounce of impartiality in covering the recruiting saga of a kid who’s deciding between his favorite school and the school he hates with a passion? This is not the first time Evans has wielded his keyboard to inflict embarrassment on Texas. Just last year, he wrote a nearly identical article that covered the Darrell Scott recruitment. Though neither Scott nor his mother were as malicious with their quotes as McFarland and Adams, Thayer littered the piece with pot shot after pot shot at Texas.

Evans’ undisclosed allegiance to OU is certainly distressing, given the importance of being impartial in writing such a damning piece. But, vastly more distressing is the fact that Evans did little if any fact finding or checking. His article is littered with blatant misrepresentations of facts and enormous holes in the purported stories from McFarland and Adams.

For starters, McFarland claimed to attend a Texas party following the Texas/OU football game in Dallas on October 11th. But, that begs the question, why would McFarland be at a party hosted by Texas fans, when he was a guest of Oklahoma’s at the game? At that game, he sat in the OU recruit/family section with his mom, using tickets provided by OU. Do you honestly believe that a guest of one team would attend a post game party hosted by fans of the other, to celebrate his host’s loss?

More damaging to that claim is the fact that Jamarkus drove from Lufkin with his mom, who attended the game and sat with him in the OU guest section. That begs the obvious question (unless you’re Thayer Evans)…..where was she the night of the party? McFarland has already stated the party was hosted by Texas fans, not players, coaches or anyone directly connected to the program, though Evans did his best to cast doubt on that. So, who were these fans? Where'd Jamarkus meet them? Did he meet them at the game while he was sitting in the OU recruits & family section? Are we to believe that a mother drove her 17 year old, underage son to a game 180 miles from home, then let him leave with strangers to attend an unsupervised party at an unknown hotel? Does this sound like any mother you've ever known? And then, once your son told you that there were naked girls, drugs & booze at the party, does it even make sense that you'd allow him to continue being recruited by that school? Yet, a month after the game, McFarland narrowed his choices down to Texas and Oklahoma!

Of course, we now know from the recent article by Rivals.com that McFarland lied in his HS paper (though he wouldn't disclose how much and what part of it was a lie). So now we have a kid who admits he lied, as well as a mother who either is either (a) a liar herself or (b) completely inept at making sound parenting decisions. But, that's not even the half of it.

In the article, McFarland's mom is quoted as saying that she called Mac McWhorter, the point person in Jamarkus' recruitment, and asked to speak to head coach, Mack Brown, b/c she was concerned about who her son should speak with if he ever had a race related issue. Then, she claims McWhorter refused to let her speak to Coach Brown, instead telling her she had to speak to him and only him. This doesn't make sense Kevin! Why? B/c Mack Brown has been personally recruiting Jamarkus since he was in 10th grade. Kashemeyia Adams, Jamarkus' mother, has been in direct contact with Mack for over 2 years and had his cell phone, work phone and home phone. In fact, every recruit who has been offered a scholarship in writing is provided with Mack's contact info in their offer letter, in case they ever have questions or want to talk. So, now we're to believe that despite direct contact with Mack Brown for over 2 years, Adams didn't have his contact info AND that the point person in McFarland's recruitment thumbed his nose at their #1 target's mother?

Adams also claims that Texas dropped the ball during the summer by not writing J-Mac as much as Oklahoma. Yet, in an article written by Rivals in August, McFarland talked about how Texas, OU and LSU were writing and e-mailing him regularly, but none called very much. Adams also articulates in Evans’ article how offended she was by Texas’ lack of contact. Maybe I'm just out of the loop, but do kids and parents pick schools based on the amount of mail they get these days or how much "love" they're shown? When I was a senior in HS in 1994-95, every D1-A athlete I knew picked their school based on the coach, the system that was run, the depth chart, the academics, and the alumni network. But, despite McFarland talking about the importance of academics, proximity to home, relationship w/ the coaches, and the system used, now it all boils down to how many letters he received?

Also troubling is the fact that Evans made no attempt to contact McFarland’s HS coach or any of the coaches at Texas, LSU or USC for comments or to verify McFarland and Adams’ accounts. I wasn’t a journalism major, but I’ve long been under the assumption that a “good” journalist attempts to verify and expand upon claims made by sources…..especially if the claims are potentially damaging to other parties. If Evans had attempted to contact any of the aforementioned, he'd have learned that the reason Texas began recruiting through Coach Outlaw, the Lufkin HC, is b/c Adams refused to allow Texas to come to her house under any circumstances (the same goes for LSU). She also stopped answering and returning calls from Texas in November, after they notified her via letter that they had been advised to document the improprieties that were on going in McFarland's recruitment. At the same time, the NCAA was alerted by Texas via letter that Adams had inquired about what benefits or perks were available to her and her son should he choose Texas. Unless the NCAA is investigating the claims, they can verify the receipt of the letter in mid-November. How damaging would that be to Adams’ claims of inducements made by a rogue Texas fan?

Unfortunately, Evans doesn’t attempt to verify any of the claims in his article. Instead, he chooses to cast Texas in a bad light by ignoring the context of Texas’ actions and refusing to verify or corroborate Adams & McFarland’s claims. I repeat, HE CHOSE TO CAST TEXAS IN A BAD LIGHT BY REFUSING TO VERIFY OR CORROBORATE ADAMS & MCFARLAND’S CLAIMS! You don’t write for the New York Times and Houston Chronicle without knowing the importance of fact finding and checking. He intentionally ignored that journalistic obligation. Any claim to the contrary is foolhardy.

So, now we have a mother who refuses to host any school not named OU in her house, who doesn’t return phone calls or e-mails, and who has inquired about “perks”. It makes a little more sense that Mack (a) began initiating all contact with McFarland through his HS HC, and (b) sent Adams an e-mail saying that he feared their continued recruitment of McFarland was creating a strain on their relationship, doesn’t it? Of course, as only Hollywood could script it, Adams is quoted as being offended that Mack sent her an e-mail saying that Texas was going to back off McFarland’s recruitment, and would only visit HER HOUSE if invited.

Most implausible of all is Adam's contention that Mack Brown asked her whose house she liked more amongst the head coaches recruiting her son, as if to imply that he is a braggart. This is the same coach that Joe Paterno - Mr. Do Things The Right Way - has said on numerous occasions is one of the few coaches in D1-A that embodies everything he's spent his career trying to uphold. He's also the same coach that doesn't allow cussing by coaches, never hesitates to suspend or sit down a kid who's getting too big for his britches, and who's never had a single NCAA violation in his 2+ decades as a head coach…..something Bob Stoops can’t claim. If you've met Mack Brown, believing that he'd ask a question like that is as plausible as believing that McDonalds promotes healthy living.

But, I digress. Everyone seems to want to make excuses for Evans. No one in the media wants to state the obvious, that this was an article that was intentionally written to embarrass certain schools. Sure, OU comes off with some egg on their face. But, it’s obvious the effect was unintentional. Find me one sentence where the intended effect was to cast OU in a negative light? Now, find me one sentence that has a single kind word with regards to any school other than OU. It can’t be done b/c the article’s intent was to pump up OU and embarrass Texas, LSU and USC. If Thayer Evans wrote a scathing article on you [Kevin Allen], in which a former co-worker claims you took bribes in exchange for casting the subjects of your pieces in either a good or bad light, and that you used your position and the threat of public embarrassment in the Chicago Sun Times in order to squeeze money and benefits from others, yet made no attempt to contact you, your current or former bosses or employers, other past and present co-workers, or prior subjects of your pieces in the Chicago Sun Times, and did zero fact finding or fact checking before publishing the article in the New York Times, would you still call it “a great piece of journalism”? It’d be a ground breaking look into the underworld of journalism, and the potential for manipulating others for financial gain! Would you be ticked that other media outlets covered and promoted the article without establishing the veracity of its claims? Would you also be ticked that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of readers would read that article without a critical eye, assuming that every malicious claim was fact? Of course, you’d just come out with guns blazing, pointing out the myriad of holes in the claims, offering proof that such improprieties didn’t occur. Sadly, due to NCAA rules, Texas doesn’t have that opportunity. Neither do USC or LSU. It’s great that you’d be able to defend yourself, but who’s going to defend the defenseless? If you believe in the importance of integrity and ethics, then the answer is you and any other media person who dares to question and research the integrity of Thayer Evans’ article.

This WAS a great piece of journalism.

This is the most activity Kevin has ever had on his blog and he had nothing to do with this story other than remark on it from afar. Kevin knows by now he got royally suckered in by a douchebag sooner fan with a MY Space fanboy sooner page that oddly found its way under the NY Times Banner. The egghead elitists at that paper have no clue of sports journalism and apparently some sooner skank with street smarts and an agenda wrangled his way into a paycheck. But Kevin wants a piece of that too, and I don't blame him. It was great journalism because we are all here acting 1) indignant and now 2) triumphant. And it's all in Kevin's playpen. Do you think he's gonna come out and tell you it was unmitigated junk? No, you'd leave if he does that. He's still gonna play the sensible act and pretend there's a grain of truth here. There isn't, he knows it, and I'm on his blog during my work day.

Kevin -

any comment on the fact that Thayer Evans used to write for "Sooners Illustrated"?

If you pull up his stories on the NYT website, he does seem to write quite a few stories about OU.

do you still feel he is more than likely an unbiased reporter who got a little sloppy with his sources?

Bill Gillean, Houston, TX (not an anonymous internet poster)

The Difference between UT fans complaining about this article and the governor of Illinios should be pretty obviuous, but if not there are tapes of the governor committing illegal acts. THe accusations made by Thayer Evans has no outside collaboration. There is no evdence except for the accusations made in the article some of which has already beeen proved false.

So as Mike Gundy would say, "Get your facts straight!"

"What I'm insisting is that the only people upset about this article and this whole situation are Texas fans because they lost out on a football player who will never actually matter to their program anyway"

Kevin,

I understand if you don't follow CFB or recruiting very closely. (I love CFB but really don't follow the recruiting much) However If you would think about it for a second your response is immature at the least.
JM and his mother have chosen to make very serious allegations against our University. Yet when asked about them all they say is "well part of it was made up, but the rest is true" Yet no names, dates or places. Evans also does not research names dates or places. Yet we should believe the article?

1000's of kids have chosen other schools and most of us have said good luck. However when a kid or his mother feel the need to trash us we do get upset. It has nothing to do with the kid or school he chose, but the way he is lying about us when he did it.

I asked in an ealier post and will ask again, what would your editor in chief say about a story involving your governor that alleged cheating but your only source was the accuser? Would your editor allow the story?

Kevin,

If you can't name a dozen sportswriters in the Chicago area that care about the Bears, you're either a fool or fooling yourself. I live in DC and I can tell you that guys like Wilbon and Kornheiser definitely care about the Redskins. Fan interest drives their paychecks. Most humans have real trouble checking their biases at the door when it is critical, and you think they can do it with something as trivial as sports?

As for the allegations raised in the article, even apart from those that were "spiced up," are pretty outrageous. In most fields, outrageous claim require substantial evidence. The allegations Ms. Adams made are quite serious. They could cost some young men a chance at a scholarship. You can't say this is good journalism if there is no corroboration to these allegations.

I've been following college football recruiting for about 10 years, and these kinds of columns were common when guys like Rivals were just getting started. They quickly learned that stories like these were more bull than substance, and quit running them. When I read the story in the print paper, I thought it was a rookie reporter who got sucked in by an attention-seeking family. I was wrong, it was an editor who got sucked in by a slimy writer.

Relax, have a beer, and admit you were wrong. A smart writer would be distancing himself from this bozo as much as possible.

The McFarland Story - The truth revealed

December 29, 2008
The McFarland story - The truth revealed

Chip Brown
Orangebloods.com Columnist

The uncle of highly recruited Lufkin defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland said he believes his nephew wants to attend Texas, but that McFarland's mother, Kashemeyia Adams, influenced her son to give his commitment to Oklahoma.

"I really believe that Jamarkus had his heart set on playing at Texas," Tony McFarland, Jamarkus' uncle, who lives in Houston told Orangebloods.com. "And he even said that. He wanted to go to Texas, and somehow, or someway his mind got changed and he wasn't going to go against his mother. His mother wanted him to go to Oklahoma and something happened with her and Texas."


Jamarkus McFarland's Christmas-day commitment has created a stir among recruiting fans.
Tony McFarland's comments came after several inflammatory statements about Texas were made by Adams to the New York Times in a story about McFarland's recruitment. Jamarkus McFarland committed to Oklahoma on Christmas Day.

In the New York Times story, Adams said she was blocked from talking to Mack Brown by an assistant coach. She said Texas tried to run its recruitment through Jamarkus' high school coach at Lufkin, John Outlaw, who then was accused by Adams of trying to direct McFarland to Texas.

Adams also said Texas "went to sleep in the summertime" recruiting her son while Oklahoma "woke up." She said she was offended by decisions the Texas coaches made to back off of her son's recruitment earlier this month because they could sense tension between Adams and Jamarkus.

She also said she had received numerous offers of gifts in exchange for her son to attend Texas, although she didn't believe that Brown or anyone officially connected to Texas was involved or had any knowledge of the enticements, according to the Times.

Tony McFarland said he spoke with Jamarkus regularly near the end of the recruiting process and was surprised by Jamarkus' decision. He said Adams and Jamarkus were strongly leaning toward Texas at the beginning of the year.

"At first she was headstrong on Texas," Tony McFarland said. "For some reason, and I don't know why, she turned against Texas. When I asked, the thing was because the recruiter wouldn't let her talk to Mack Brown."

Sources close to McFarland's recruitment said Adams had Mack Brown's cell phone number and used it regularly this year and only recently stated she couldn't get through to Brown.

Adams did not return phone calls to comment for this story.

But Lufkin coach John Outlaw told Orangebloods.com Texas appeared to handle itself professionally throughout McFarland's recruitment.

"Texas started recruiting JaMarkus when he was a 10th grader and conducted itself absolutely in a professional manner through the whole process, in my opinion," Outlaw said. "They didn't do anything wrong. They did everything the way you would want it done from what I saw. And I just want it clear that never in 30 years of coaching have I encouraged a kid to go anywhere other than where he wanted to go. That's all I'm going to say about it."

When Texas coaches told Adams in an e-mail earlier this month they were going to back off and give Jamarkus some distance because they sensed tension between mother and son, Tony McFarland said he agreed with the move and didn't consider it a slight in any way.

"The incident where they wrote the email to Jamarkus about leaving him alone for the time being, we talked before they did that," Tony McFarland said. "(Will Muschamp) let me know what they were going to do. I told him I thought that was best because of the way she was going off on Texas.

"But he did say he wanted Jamarkus to have a scholarship, he was still welcome at Texas, Texas still wanted him but they were going to back off because they didn't want to break up the family."


McFarland is the nation's second-ranked defensive tackle prospect.
A highly-placed source in Lufkin that talked to McFarland shortly after the email was sent by Texas indicated that McFarland, like his uncle, approved of Texas taking a step back.

"Jamarkus said he was really relieved and he thought it was a really classy thing that Texas did that," the Lufkin source said.

The New York Times quotes a paper McFarland wrote for a class in which he talked in a discouraging tone about a wild party in Dallas thrown by Longhorn fans after the Texas-Oklahoma game this year in which there was alcohol, drugs and women taking off their clothes.

McFarland told Rivals.com on Sunday that he "spiced things up" in the paper, and three sources who were with McFarland that night said McFarland experienced nothing of the kind.

The sources, who agreed to talk on condition of anonymity, said McFarland spent most of the night with Texas fans at the Dyer Street Bar near the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas, where McFarland was staying.

"There were no girls there taking off their clothes like it was alleged. I also didn't see any drugs. This was just a regular bar," said one source with McFarland that night.

"The whole night he was there and he just stood against the wall and watched everyone. One of his friends was dancing with some girls, but he stayed really calm and didn't do anything the entire night."

A second source with McFarland that night said, "We were at the Dyer Street Bar and that's where we saw him for most of the night. I was pretty pissed off when I read the article because there wasn't any drug use and, as nice as it would have been to see girls all over each other, there wasn't any of that either."

A third source with McFarland that night said, "I was with him at various times throughout the night and there were not any drugs or women that took their clothes off. We were all in a couple of bars, but there really never was a party. There was just a lot of people drinking and having a good time. I was shocked to read what was reported."

When asked if there was any chance that McFarland could have left the bar and gone to a wild party before he eventually checked back into his room at the Sheraton Hotel, the third source said, "No, none of that happened. After we left the bar, he was back in the hotel room sleeping when I saw him again. That wasn't long after we left the bar and returned back to the hotel that we were all staying at."

When Mack Brown was asked about the McFarland case and The New York Times article written by Thayer Evans, Brown told The Dallas Morning News he would not comment on McFarland (per NCAA rules) but was willing to comment on the newspaper article.

Asked by the Morning News if he had any knowledge of possible recruiting improprieties, Brown answered: "Absolutely not. We encourage the NCAA to check out every player we're recruiting ever year. We call them and ask them to. We welcome them there."

Brown was critical of a piece authored by Evans last season about California running back Darrell Scott, who eventually chose Colorado over Texas on national signing day.

"One-sided stories usually don't make it when sources aren't checked on the other side," Brown said. "The story has absolutely no credibility with me because the writer did the same thing exactly last year and it's obvious he has an agenda, in my mind, against Texas."

Neither Brown nor Texas athletic spokesman John Bianco said they were contacted by the Times for comment before publication.

Evans provided a brief statement to the Morning News and Orangebloods.com on Monday night.

"The article speaks for itself. We will continue to follow the story," Evans said.

Tony McFarland simply hopes Jamarkus McFarland is following his heart.

"What I told Marcus was, 'At some point and time, you have to make a decision for you and do what's best for Marcus.' What he came out saying was basically, 'I'm not going to go against mom and I'm going to go to Oklahoma.'

"The thing that I want to convey is that I believe that Marcus really wanted to go to Texas. I believe he had a change of heart due to his mom and the recruiting process. That's the way things happen. That's the way things go. I'm not here to say anything bad about her, Texas or Oklahoma. Both programs are great programs and I think they handled Jamarkus the way that they saw fit.

"Jamarkus still loves Texas. I think if it was totally up to him, he would be at Texas. But it came down to a decision of what his mom liked, and that's which way he went. At first, Jamarkus loved Texas. Due to his mom, he had a change of heart. He didn't want to go against his mother and that's basically the way the story went."

[Note:] Geoff Ketchum and Jason Suchomel contributed to this report.

December 29, 2008
The McFarland story - The truth revealed

Chip Brown
Orangebloods.com Columnist

The uncle of highly recruited Lufkin defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland said he believes his nephew wants to attend Texas, but that McFarland's mother, Kashemeyia Adams, influenced her son to give his commitment to Oklahoma.

"I really believe that Jamarkus had his heart set on playing at Texas," Tony McFarland, Jamarkus' uncle, who lives in Houston told Orangebloods.com. "And he even said that. He wanted to go to Texas, and somehow, or someway his mind got changed and he wasn't going to go against his mother. His mother wanted him to go to Oklahoma and something happened with her and Texas."


Jamarkus McFarland's Christmas-day commitment has created a stir among recruiting fans.
Tony McFarland's comments came after several inflammatory statements about Texas were made by Adams to the New York Times in a story about McFarland's recruitment. Jamarkus McFarland committed to Oklahoma on Christmas Day.

In the New York Times story, Adams said she was blocked from talking to Mack Brown by an assistant coach. She said Texas tried to run its recruitment through Jamarkus' high school coach at Lufkin, John Outlaw, who then was accused by Adams of trying to direct McFarland to Texas.

Adams also said Texas "went to sleep in the summertime" recruiting her son while Oklahoma "woke up." She said she was offended by decisions the Texas coaches made to back off of her son's recruitment earlier this month because they could sense tension between Adams and Jamarkus.

She also said she had received numerous offers of gifts in exchange for her son to attend Texas, although she didn't believe that Brown or anyone officially connected to Texas was involved or had any knowledge of the enticements, according to the Times.

Tony McFarland said he spoke with Jamarkus regularly near the end of the recruiting process and was surprised by Jamarkus' decision. He said Adams and Jamarkus were strongly leaning toward Texas at the beginning of the year.

"At first she was headstrong on Texas," Tony McFarland said. "For some reason, and I don't know why, she turned against Texas. When I asked, the thing was because the recruiter wouldn't let her talk to Mack Brown."

Sources close to McFarland's recruitment said Adams had Mack Brown's cell phone number and used it regularly this year and only recently stated she couldn't get through to Brown.

Adams did not return phone calls to comment for this story.

But Lufkin coach John Outlaw told Orangebloods.com Texas appeared to handle itself professionally throughout McFarland's recruitment.

"Texas started recruiting JaMarkus when he was a 10th grader and conducted itself absolutely in a professional manner through the whole process, in my opinion," Outlaw said. "They didn't do anything wrong. They did everything the way you would want it done from what I saw. And I just want it clear that never in 30 years of coaching have I encouraged a kid to go anywhere other than where he wanted to go. That's all I'm going to say about it."

When Texas coaches told Adams in an e-mail earlier this month they were going to back off and give Jamarkus some distance because they sensed tension between mother and son, Tony McFarland said he agreed with the move and didn't consider it a slight in any way.

"The incident where they wrote the email to Jamarkus about leaving him alone for the time being, we talked before they did that," Tony McFarland said. "(Will Muschamp) let me know what they were going to do. I told him I thought that was best because of the way she was going off on Texas.

"But he did say he wanted Jamarkus to have a scholarship, he was still welcome at Texas, Texas still wanted him but they were going to back off because they didn't want to break up the family."


McFarland is the nation's second-ranked defensive tackle prospect.
A highly-placed source in Lufkin that talked to McFarland shortly after the email was sent by Texas indicated that McFarland, like his uncle, approved of Texas taking a step back.

"Jamarkus said he was really relieved and he thought it was a really classy thing that Texas did that," the Lufkin source said.

The New York Times quotes a paper McFarland wrote for a class in which he talked in a discouraging tone about a wild party in Dallas thrown by Longhorn fans after the Texas-Oklahoma game this year in which there was alcohol, drugs and women taking off their clothes.

McFarland told Rivals.com on Sunday that he "spiced things up" in the paper, and three sources who were with McFarland that night said McFarland experienced nothing of the kind.

The sources, who agreed to talk on condition of anonymity, said McFarland spent most of the night with Texas fans at the Dyer Street Bar near the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas, where McFarland was staying.

"There were no girls there taking off their clothes like it was alleged. I also didn't see any drugs. This was just a regular bar," said one source with McFarland that night.

"The whole night he was there and he just stood against the wall and watched everyone. One of his friends was dancing with some girls, but he stayed really calm and didn't do anything the entire night."

A second source with McFarland that night said, "We were at the Dyer Street Bar and that's where we saw him for most of the night. I was pretty pissed off when I read the article because there wasn't any drug use and, as nice as it would have been to see girls all over each other, there wasn't any of that either."

A third source with McFarland that night said, "I was with him at various times throughout the night and there were not any drugs or women that took their clothes off. We were all in a couple of bars, but there really never was a party. There was just a lot of people drinking and having a good time. I was shocked to read what was reported."

When asked if there was any chance that McFarland could have left the bar and gone to a wild party before he eventually checked back into his room at the Sheraton Hotel, the third source said, "No, none of that happened. After we left the bar, he was back in the hotel room sleeping when I saw him again. That wasn't long after we left the bar and returned back to the hotel that we were all staying at."

When Mack Brown was asked about the McFarland case and The New York Times article written by Thayer Evans, Brown told The Dallas Morning News he would not comment on McFarland (per NCAA rules) but was willing to comment on the newspaper article.

Asked by the Morning News if he had any knowledge of possible recruiting improprieties, Brown answered: "Absolutely not. We encourage the NCAA to check out every player we're recruiting ever year. We call them and ask them to. We welcome them there."

Brown was critical of a piece authored by Evans last season about California running back Darrell Scott, who eventually chose Colorado over Texas on national signing day.

"One-sided stories usually don't make it when sources aren't checked on the other side," Brown said. "The story has absolutely no credibility with me because the writer did the same thing exactly last year and it's obvious he has an agenda, in my mind, against Texas."

Neither Brown nor Texas athletic spokesman John Bianco said they were contacted by the Times for comment before publication.

Evans provided a brief statement to the Morning News and Orangebloods.com on Monday night.

"The article speaks for itself. We will continue to follow the story," Evans said.

Tony McFarland simply hopes Jamarkus McFarland is following his heart.

"What I told Marcus was, 'At some point and time, you have to make a decision for you and do what's best for Marcus.' What he came out saying was basically, 'I'm not going to go against mom and I'm going to go to Oklahoma.'

"The thing that I want to convey is that I believe that Marcus really wanted to go to Texas. I believe he had a change of heart due to his mom and the recruiting process. That's the way things happen. That's the way things go. I'm not here to say anything bad about her, Texas or Oklahoma. Both programs are great programs and I think they handled Jamarkus the way that they saw fit.

"Jamarkus still loves Texas. I think if it was totally up to him, he would be at Texas. But it came down to a decision of what his mom liked, and that's which way he went. At first, Jamarkus loved Texas. Due to his mom, he had a change of heart. He didn't want to go against his mother and that's basically the way the story went."

[Note:] Geoff Ketchum and Jason Suchomel contributed to this report.

Kevin,
Thank you for taking another look. If Texas does something wrong, we should take our lumps. Thayer's article simply seems to be first & foremost about painting Texas in a certain light without any way of verifying anything he says when he presents it as fact. The idea that Jamarkus McFarland only saw him one time is certainly contradictory to the idea that Thayer was there for the duration of the recruitment, which the reader is led to believe. The article, therefore, can't really be about his recruitment, and it is not. It is about bashing Texas, and is allowed to do so unchecked. There is no equality in coverage of the schools mentioned. There are no other sources checked for differing views. There are only statements made that are reported as fact without verification. Jamarkus himself is used in this piece toward the end of making a poor picture of Texas. There should be more concern over using the kid that way. That Thayer was ok with using Jamarkus says a lot to me.

"I wouldn't claim the reason behind the auto industry's need for a financial bailout is due to the fact that the heater's busted on my buddy's Ford Focus. I may, however, question why I'm friends with poor bastards who are too cheap to get the heat fixed on their crummy cars in the dead of winter."

So what you're saying, Kevin, is that we should question YOU for legitimizing an article based on a fictional high school English paper and not much else.

As a journalist yourself, your very first reaction to such an obviously biased (i.e. no sources other than the player in question and his very angry mother) article should have been that it was a load of crap until proven otherwise. Instead, you praised it.

Upon discovering that many of the quotes attributed to McFarland were taken from a school assignment containing a severely embellished account of a party attended while on a recruiting trip (as a guest of OU, not Texas), you should have completely dismissed it for utter lack of journalistic integrity. Instead, you admonished the writer for using a fake story but still called it "great journalism" and said the story was still worth reading.

When you were informed that not only was the article based on a fictional story and containing a number of accusations against several individuals but also that the writer never even tried to contact the accused to get their side of the story, you should have completely retracted your praise and labeled it unadulterated garbage. Instead, you made excuses for why a journalist might arbitrarily decide to skip the fact-checking process, as though it is common and accepted practice in print journalism.

For you to assert that Texas fans are only upset about the article because they lost a prospect suggests to me that, like McFarland and his mother, you understand very little about NCAA rules pertaining to recruiting. McFarland didn't just say no to Texas. Most Texas fans who follow recruiting saw that coming weeks, even months ago, so it wouldn't have come as much of a surprise. The problem is that McFarland and his mother levied very serious accusations of NCAA rules violations on the Texas football program, and that has very far-reaching impacts.

It doesn't matter at all whether or not a coach or any other school official is aware of someone promising money or other benefits to a recruit's family or friends in exchange for his commitment to said school. It is still considered a violation of NCAA rules, and the school can still be investigated and punished for it. The mere indication of impropriety hurts the reputation of the coach, the program, the athletic department, and the school. It can cost millions of dollars in damage, not to mention the fact that every coach who competes with Mack Brown for recruits will be printing out that article to take with them on visits for years to come.

This is a very serious and very dangerous precedent that has been set. Texas fans and university officials have every right to be upset and to demand that action be taken against McFarland, his mother, Thayer Evans, and the New York Times.

This is not a game. That article is mockery of the journalism profession - YOUR profession. And every time it gets linked or praised or talked about by journalists like you, it puts another dent in the image of the profession. Congratulations.

Kevin Replies: This is not a game, Lauren? Are you serious? Last I checked football is, in fact, still a game. That everyone is so disproportionately passionate and fired up about said game in a time of war -- well that's a dent on the image of college football fans.

Kevin,

You keep saying that Texas fans are only mad because we (I'm a Texas alum) lost out on the recruit. Beleive me, that's not it. One kid doesn't make or break a program. We won two Rose Bowls and a national championship without Adrian Peterson, and beat OU 2/3 years he was there. We'll be ok without Jamarcus McFarland. I hope he ends up doing well, but he seems like a distraction waiting to happen. He's Ryan Perriloux all over again. We know we're better off without him.

No, the reason we're so offended is because our program was accused of cheating. We're proud of the program's success on the field, but we're equally proud that it was accomplished cleanly. And we really do think that it was (the NYT article certainly didn't do anything to convince me otherwise).

But its more than that. The disparaging picture of the Texas football program, and that trashy party, was woven together with a dipiction of the actual cheeters - Oklahoma (look it up) - as some bastion of high moral and academic standards. I can't speak to the morals of OU students, but do you know how easy it is academically to get in and out of OU? I'm not saying smart, capable people can't come out of there. Its just less important to them than, say, accumulating Heisman Trophies. At Texas, you have to graduate in the top 10% of your class to get in. No one with less than a 3.7/4.0 even gets in the door, and a lot of them can't handle it and don't graduate. Come to think of it, the NYT article makes a little more sense if you understand that.

Anyway, add to that the fact that we Texas fans are all still very, very upset about the BCS thing. Honestly, I just deleted a whole rant on that subject because I'm sure everyone is sick of it. I'm sick of it too, but I can't seem to keep my cool about it when I think about the stupid sooners. $#@*$%&!!

Well, keep up the good work.

Cooper

Kevin, when a 'reporter' gathers only one side of a story that contains such slanderous remarks, how does that 'reporter' not have the journalism decency to not at least attempt to obtain the other sides? Maybe you and your journalistic peers do not see this as slanderous but if one was to remove any of the universities referenced in the article and replace them with your name, that would probably rate a different response. And here we thought that good journalism was more than just publishing one-sided stories. Plus for all of the people that have met Mack Brown, the reported arrogant remarks are as uncharacteristic as one can get.

Let's just work on getting the truth out and not embellishments or one sided stories, no matter the university or individual.

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Allen published on December 28, 2008 7:05 PM.

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