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Jamarkus McFarland recruiting spawns some captivating journalism ... if nothing else

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<b>Apparently, we rushed to judgment on our praise for Thayer Evans' New York Times article on McFarland. Rivals.com is reporting that the English paper cited in Evans' article was embellished. Click here for latest on that.</b>

One of the most highly sought-after nuggets this year in the gold mine that is Texas high school football is Jamarkus McFarland. He's a 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle from Lufkin High School in Lufkin, Texas.

He's a college coach's dream. In addition to being a gifted athlete, McFarland is a solid student and president of his class. He's also the subject of one of the finest pieces of sports reporting I've read in a long time.

New York Times reporter Thayer Evans followed the 18-year-old's journey from blue-chip recruit this past summer to committed Oklahoma Sooner as of 12:01 Christmas morning. [Read the full story here]

After narrowing his choices to college football powerhouses USC, LSU, Texas and Oklahoma, in the end it came down to just Texas and OU.

Some of the details that emerge in the article about the schools' recruitment tactics are startling, but not entirely surprising.

They're startling for the simple fact that stories of recruitment transgressions and improprieties are so often assumed, glossed over and rarely printed in any reputable news sources. That the allegations appear in the pages of the New York Times makes you wonder whether the NCAA will follow up with a proper investigation.

The Times published part of a paper written by McFarland for his English class where he detailed a party he attended in Dallas that was hosted by Longhorn fans:

 "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."

He continued: "The attitude of the people at the party was that everyone should drink or not come to the party. Drugs were prevalent with no price attached."

The article also claims that Texas offered money to McFarland's mother. She claims in the article that the source of any offers did not come from within the Texas athletic department -- something she can only speculate:

"Allegations from the report upset her because she said she had received numerous offers of gifts in exchange for her son to attend Texas. She said she did not believe that Brown or anyone officially with Texas was involved or had any knowledge of the enticements."
And:

"Earlier this month, a former classmate called Adams and asked if she would coax her son into attending Texas. If so, a banker had promised the former classmate any type of loan."

Longhorn fan sites, including Burnt Orange Nation, are blowing up over the issue, questioning whether Evans confirmed certain facts in the article and even claiming some eye-witness accounts of the party in question that dispute McFarland's take. Texas fans are also questioning whether Evans, who attended Oklahoma Wesleyan University (not OU, mind you) was motivated by alleged Sooner fandom in his reporting of this story. [Orangebloods.com]

What do you think? Should this prompt an NCAA investigation? Will it? Let us know what you think of Evans' article.

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16 Comments

"The article also claims that Texas offered money to McFarland's mother."

That is a lie.

From the article:
"She said she did not believe the offers were affiliated with the Texas football staff."

Kevin Replies: A lie? Hardly. Of course any fan would want to believe that. I just had no idea they were making burnt orange Kool-Aid these days.

Point of information: Mr. Evans story didn't appear in the the pages of the New York Times. It appeared on some blog of hacks that is loosely affiliated with the Times, which doesn't seem to have to adhere to the regular journalistic standards of fairness and accuracy.

Ironic, ain't it?

Kevin Replies: I think the general understanding of the phrase 'pages of' has expanded to include Web pages. And no. I don't see the irony. This type of reporting would go through a fact-checking process. It wouldn't surprise me at all if everything printed had been confirmed by the parties involved.

Unfortunately, your reporting of the NY Times story is as poorly written as the original article. For example, OU, not Texas was the home team this season and served as the host school for Jamarkus during the weekend. Texas players and coaches returned to Austin together. Jamarkus was chaparoned by OU players (as well as his mother) for the weekend. Furthermore, you dismiss as the influence of "burnt orange koolaid" the fact that the blog itself quotes Jamarkus' mother in denying that the Texas athletic department was connected to the alleged money offer.

Why don't you try one of those journalistic techniques called "verifying sources", something the NYT reporter failed to do, before reposting his pathetic article.

Kevin Replies: Of course she's going to say it wasn't connected to the Texas athletic department. But how would she even begin to know whether any of the coaches or staff were behind it? How could she possibly know? I wish I had your idealism about the way college football recruiting works, but I would trust the precedent set by years of corrupt coaching staffs throughout the country over a mother's speculation -- a mother who's never been through the recruiting process, mind you. College football programs have become extremely adroit when it comes to plausible denial when it comes to toeing the line of NCAA recruiting rules. And that's not to say that any school in the country is less culpable than Texas. It's only to say that to make the assumption that absolutely no one within the Texas athletic department had knowledge of extra incentives being offered here -- or in any recruiting situation -- is an egregious display of idealism and blind fandom the likes of which we're just not privy to 'round these parts.

Let me get this straight.....a guy who writes a blog associated with the NYT, who slants his entires blog to OU, writes a tale of drugs, money, wild parties, and watching "Beautyshop" with a D1 college coach and this is all truth? He even quotes the player's momma, the player and a paper the player wrote for his senior english class??? Where was the coach in the process? In these parts, every High School coach is involved at some point. How come he was never talked to? How come no one was talked to? This whole thing stinks and momma is getting something from OU.

Kevin Replies: That's a good point -- I'd be interested to hear what McFarland's coach has to say about the situation as well.

You've contradicted yourself.
First you write,
"The article also claims that Texas offered money to McFarland's mother.",

but then you write,

"Of course she's going to say it wasn't connected to the Texas athletic department."

Now, if you say "Texas" includes boosters, it could be true. However, according to OU, schools shouldn't held accountable for boosters. Just ask them about Bomar, Quinn & Big Red Motors.

Kevin Replies: I also say that both teams are culpable. I don't presume innocence in the case of any of the schools mentioned in this article. In fact, I'd posit that no one is innocent in this entire story. Everyone involved needs to take a long shower to eradicate the skeeviness of this entire situation. That's what makes this such a compelling article. There are no heroes in it. The seedy underbelly of a longstanding rivalry is revealed and fans can't take criticism of their respective teams to a pathological level of conformist devotion. That's what no one seems to grasp here. The problem with so many fans is that they're so caught up in their blind love for an entity that cares far more about their monetary loyalty than their emotional loyalty that any objectivity goes flying out the window at the mere mention of the word Sooner, Longhorn, Tiger or Trojan.

Of course teams will say they shouldn't be held accountable for the actions of their boosters. Maybe they shouldn't But does this make it right? Does this make the offering of cash or unsanctioned incentives to ANY amateur athlete at ANY school OK? Again, no one is innocent in this story -- not the mom, not McFarland himself, not the coaches and certainly not the boosters of any team mentioned.

And on an only semi-related note, the only ones in the article who come out looking like victims are the LSU hostesses who are so clearly exploited. But that's neither here nor there.

I've read the entire article and find it all hard to believe. The claims are simply too fantastic to have any credibility. Does anyone really believe that Mack Brown or any other coach would refuse phone calls from the mother of a blue chip recruit? From what little I know of Mack I don't think he'd refuse phone calls from the parent of a walk on!

If he did distance himself from the situation could it be because he smelled a rat? Remember, one of the mother's complaints is that Texas backed off from recruiting her kid. Why would they do so without good cause? Could it be because mom was seeking compensation for her son's commitment? Is it possible these claims are nothing more than a half baked scheme to cover her own transgressions? Think about it. Mom floats a payola balloon and all of a sudden Texas backs off. Yes I'm reading between the lines and making my own assumptions but it makes more sense than Texas suddenly and for no apparent reason changing its mind about the kid.

In all fairness to OU I'm not suggesting they did anything wrong. I'm not a fan but I think Bob Stoops is a man of integrity and runs a clean program. Schools like Texas and OU don't have to cheat to attract top athletes. Their records and accomplishments on the field and in the class room do that for them.

When the dust settles and national signing day rolls around here's the way I see it playing out. Unless his mother comes clean and some serious retractions are printed Jamarkus wont go to Texas, OU, USC or LSU. Her accusations have created a storm of specualtion around her son and no school involved in those accusations can afford to take a chance on him. Where there is smoke there is not always fire but there is always the media searching for the slightest ember. Is that not what started all this in the first place?

Kevin as a media outlet, please keep pushing for an NCAA investigation. The only school that was allowed to have an in home visit is currently on probation and has been the most heavily penalized university not given the Death penalty. How is it coincidence that Thayer Evans is the same guy that followed both Darrel Scott and Jamarkus Mcfarland. Of all the top tier guys nation wide Thayer Evans can choose to follow; these two guys are chosen and end up in controversy involving the University of Texas. Also track down the St Bonaventure California coach that got involved last year in the Darrel Scott fiasco. Or talk to the Lufkin coach and see what he has to say. Do some investigative reporting for your self. Follow the URL provided and see for yourself which way this Hack Evans leans. Please report without prejudice!

From the NY Times article:
"McFarland's mother, Kashemeyia Adams, said she received numerous offers, including one for an interest-free loan for a former classmate, if her son were to choose Texas. She said she did not believe the offers were affiliated with the Texas football staff."
__________________________________________________________________


You guys remember the movie He Got Game? Well, this allegation came straight from the movie.

Here's the deal and we need to get this out on the table - either these are flat out lies or these are NCAA violations. There's very little wiggle room. If the mom is going to make these kinds of public accusations, she needs to provide names and details. Nothing less than that is acceptable.

The University of Texas and Mack Brown are not only committed to running straight-line programs, but they are proud of their commitment to doing things the right way. If something happened, it needs to be reported and the facts need to be exposed.

What can absolutely not happen is for McFarland's mom to open up Pandora's Box and think she can walk away without an explanation. Also, even though the article suggests that the coaches had zero involvement in these "offers," she must know that it doesn't make it any less illegal.

It's an NCAA violation and had she asked the Oklahoma coaches, they could have told her that. More than any school in the nation, Oklahoma knows NCAA rules violations, especially the kind that include rogue boosters?

Suggesting that this occurred in such a public fashion without explicit details borders on being slanderous to the school in my opinion, although I don't know who could take action because she could have been talking about the Boogie Man as easily as anything else, given the lack of facts given in the article.

Kevin - Please read. The kid was lying and admitted so today. Thanks.


David Fox
Staff Writer
MORE: Jamarkus McFarland interview | Army AA Bowl coverage | More all-star coverage

SAN ANTONIO – Lufkin, Texas, defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland said parts of a class assignment referenced in a New York Times article detailing his recruitment were "spiced up," but the recruit and his mother stood by the remainder of the newspaper's story.


JaMarkus McFarland and his mother stand behind many of the comments in a recent New York Times' story.
The Times documented McFarland's recruitment, culminating with a Christmas Day piece detailing his commitment to Oklahoma.

The Times article included inflammatory statements McFarland had written about the recruiting practices of Texas and LSU for a senior English class assignment.

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.

"I could have said I just went to a party. For an English paper – I'm taking a college course – you've got to explain. It's brainstorming. If I knew he was getting it, I would have known what was right and what wasn't right."

McFarland declined to indicate what parts of his English paper were "spiced up," but reiterated no Texas players or coaches were at the

Kevin Responds: I guess "lying" is one interpretation. But I don't know you can really call it lying when it was never presented to the reporter as truth. In fact, it was never presented to the reporter by McFarland at all. For more on that, go here: http://blogs.suntimes.com/sportsprose/2008/12/jamarkus_mcfarland_oklahoma_re.html

But Kevin now that he admits that it was an embellished paper you have to admit you were wrong about it going through any kind of fact checking process by the Times.

The entire article is a joke. It is slanted towards OU and talks about their academic side of the recruitment and never says anything about the intense academic display that Texas puts on for a recruit during his visit.

The hack of a writer doesn't talk to anyone but McFarland and his illiterate mother. He doesn't talk to the high school coach or anyone else associated with this. It has been widely reported that Texas went through the high school coach because the mother wouldn't let them in the house.

The comments about Mack Brown bragging about his house let's anyone who knows anything about Mack Brown know that this is a fabricated story by an angry woman who's pimping of her son was exposed on Barking Carnival. This woman had her hand out and it was reported on a UT blog by a respected person with proven inside sources. She then went to an OU homer hack and accused Texas of the same thing.

Kevin- you seem defensive to the idea that there may be a lot of bull to this story. Please be objective if you want credibility. Jamarkus stated today that he "spiced up" (those are his words) that paper for school. Jamarkus also stated that he did not know that Thayer had that paper. That means that Thayer used Jamarkus' work w/out his approval or knowledge, and did not fact check it. Essentially, Thayer & the NY Times presented as fact an embellished paper used w/out permission that was not fact checked. Your response to Supertroopers calls into question the use of the term Lying. Well, this certainly does not represent the truth, and may very well be slander. Knowing Thayer works in this manner, are you willing to stand behind the rest of this article, or do you maybe have a little doubt that other aspects may be "spiced up" as well. The lack of any actual journalistic work coupled w/ the fact that Mack Brown and staff are forbidden by NCAA rules from commenting on recruits, and, therefore, this story, until signing day in Feb. should leave anybody with any critical thinking skills wondering about the true motive behind this story. Go look at the other articles Thayer has written in the Times and you will see they are all regarding OU. As to Jamrkus' mom, Mack Brown essentially said he was backing off Jamarkus' recruitment because he thought his mother implied the need for compensation for producing her son. He also said he was going back to make sure the documentation of the recruiting process was in order. Why do you think he felt the need to publicly state this a couple weeks ago? Do you not see the possible retaliatory nature of this article (it is mostly her quoted)? Please help get an NCAA investigation into this.

Kevin Replies: To imply that any sports journalist cares even an iota whether the team he's covering wins or loses is just plain silly. I can only speak for the sports journalists I've worked with in the past, but I can't recall a single one that possessed even a hint of anything resembling fandom.

Well done, Kevin, as was the NY Times article to which you refer. Don't feel badly about the abuse you are taking from those humble and composed Texas Longhorn fans. Though I'm from Texas myself, I'm an OU grad and fan. To Longhorn fans, the state of Oklahoma collectively is nothing more than one large trailer park in the middle of a barren wasteland populated by uneducated hicks, and the only reason the Sooner football team does things like beat Texas out for the BCS Championship Game, win the Heisman Trophy over the Longhorn quarterback, and best them for a blue chip recruit who lives about 50 miles from Austin is because we cheat. Right. We cheat, Kevin, you don't know what you are talking about, Jamarkus McFarland is a liar, and the NY Times writer is a dishonest hack and closet OU fan. Poor Texas, largest university and top athletic budget in the country and they are just overwhelmed by the opposition. I was born in Texas and have lived the majority of my life here and I can tell you first-hand that most of the Lone Star State hates the Texas Longhorns and their university. Amongst OU fans, meanwhile, it is a running debate whether the Horn fans are worse winners or losers. Their comments toward you would militate in favor of the latter. Keep up the good work, you have the right detractors.

"guess "lying" is one interpretation. But I don't know you can really call it lying when it was never presented to the reporter as truth. In fact, it was never presented to the reporter by McFarland at all."

So, a lie is only a lie if it is presented to a reporter? He did write it in a paper submitted for a class. And, apparently it isn't true. smells like a lie to me. But, I'm not going to crucify some kid.

I will call B.S. on a "reporter" who would take it and run with it without any fact checking. And this makes me doubt any fact checking was done on any of his story.


And I will call B.S. on you for running with this story and assuming it is all true without any fact checking. Read back on your snide responses above regarding this. Obviously Texas is cheating and anyone who doubts that is drinking kool aide; it must be true because it is on a NYT webpage. And your statement that if it shows up on the blog of a newspaper that the statements would be fact checked so we must believe them. Obviously this revelation today shows that fact checking did not occur either on the NYT website or the Sun Times for that matter.

Kevin Replies: What if the assignment for the paper was to take an experience that happened to you and "spice it up?" By that rationale, then, I guess you could just blanket the entire fiction genre of books as being a huge horde of lies -- but that strikes me as taking some of the fun out of it.

Like I read somewhere else, if his mom felt that way about Texas, why was Texas one of his last two choices and why did she let her son take an official visit to Texas in November? That would have been way after all this stuff she said happened. Reading quotes from the family all the way back to last year, Texas has always seemed to be the favorite except in the past month. I side with the ones who say something not mentioned happened. She could have just said "OU was the better fit". Instead she spends a whole NYT article tearing down Texas.

The NYT and Chicago Sun Times are doing Texas wrong here in that the story is making serious allegations based solely on the words of a mother and son and with little detail. In addition, under NCAA rules Mack Brown and Texas can't discuss a recruit. That means they have no recourse to even dispute anything. That at a minimum should have been mentioned in the article. Both papers haven't cared much since the story is so sensational.

How about if another story is done that covers more than one viewpoint and tries to confirm more of the original story? It took two days and one question to knock out one big part of that article, I would guess the rest may be a similar deal.

Kevin Replies: How is Texas being done wrong? If he had chosen to go to Texas and still made those allegations, would Texas still be "being done wrong"? It's insane to me that anyone would suggest that because your team lost one recruit -- one lousy, unproven recruit -- that your football team is being done wrong. Seems to me only Texas fans are upset by it -- even though it doesn't cast OU in a positive light other than when you consider the fact that he chose OU in the end. It boggles my mind why anyone would care that much about a college football program that has done absolutely nothing for you other than providing a backdrop for an anecdote about where you were when you watched Vince Young lead your team to a national championship. They say football is a religion in Texas. I suppose it makes sense, then, that this religion would have its extremists too.

Kevin - to reply:

First, you can tell from the feedback you are getting on this topic that this is a big deal to Texas fans. Yes they are definitely passionate and more importantly, they have a lot of pride in the integrity of their school, Mack Brown and their University. That is one of the things that separates Texas from some other schools (esp in the South). They are not a win at all costs school with little respect for NCAA rules or regulations. Look at the history of their program and the history of coaches that have been there. Being successful and doing things the right way, with class, is part of the tradition and is part of their mantra. I'm not going to say Texas has never done anything wrong but the article paints Texas as the worst of the bunch. Doing that when comparing Texas to OU (a school with a long list of past and current NCAA issues) does not go over well with Texas fans.

Second, Texas is being done wrong because the article makes wild and major allegations against them. The allegations against Texas are much more serious and numerous than mentioned against any other school in the article.

Third, futher to my first point, if the article said the exact same thing but he chose Texas, fans would be calling for a response from the University immediately. The response obviously would not be as severe but Texas fans would want to know what is really true, enforce appropriate penalties and probably even refuse accepting that player (not because he called things out but because he wasn't recruited the way he should have been). Texas fans would not just say, "we got him so thats okay". At lots of places, that would be the case. If he had chosen OU and then trashed LSU in the article, Texas fans would be saying (as they are now anyway) that they dodged a bullet and glad he didn't end up at Texas.

I appreciate you debating all these issues regarding the article.

Kevin,

I suspect that you may not have a full understanding of the history of OU and Texas recruiting. A quick check of the NCAA Major Infractions database (https://goomer.ncaa.org/wdbctx/LSDBi/LSDBi.MajorInfPackage.MI_Search_Input?p_Cmd=Go_Search)would show you that the OU football program has had 6 major infractions since 1956 totaling 10 years of probation, 5 years of post-season probation, and 4 years of TV probation. The football program OU has spent nearly 20% of the the past 52 years on some form of NCAA probation. In the same period of time, Texas has had one violation that netted them one year of probation, but no post-season or TV probation. In fact, OU is playing in this year's BCS Championship game while still on NCAA probation for a booster paying players for work not done.

Certainly now you can understand how Texas fans are a little incredulous when a recruit chooses OU and then his mother makes accusations of improper benefits. I will concede with you that no major football program is perfectly clean, but there are miles of separation between OU and Texas. And that's the issue here for most Texas fans.

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Allen published on December 26, 2008 12:18 PM.

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