Yesterday we mentioned that it is extremely hard and time consuming to investigate things such as oversigning. While there is a ton of information on the Internet, if you look hard enough, there seems to be a void in the main stream media with regards to investigative reporting. Sure ESPN has OTL, but whatever happened to the beat reporters who did more than write up a practice report and include a couple of meaningless quotes?
Paul Finebaum has a theory on this:
"With the newspaper industry under siege and cutbacks literally being made at every corner, a reporter covering Meyer or anyone else really can ill afford to spend time in the doghouse. Otherwise, he or she will be left out in the cold when the pack goes on the next scavenger hunt for whatever scraps are still fed to those on the daily beat.
I spoke recently to an official at a major BCS school and he openly scoffed at the beat reporters covering his team. The person told me his school could completely cut off access to the reporters and still get practically the same message out to the public by delivering it themselves.
This isn't the good old days when most doors were wide open. Nowadays, there is such tight control over most programs that the average fan can learn almost as much sitting in front of computer in Muscle Shoals or Mobile, watching the press conferences live, or being force fed exactly what the school wants them to see and read.
Many beat reporters have been reduced to nothing more than stenographers. They are emailed releases which are posted on the Internet in quickly rewritten blogs. Sometimes, they are published verbatim. Rarely, if ever, does anything get out the school doesn't want out.
That's why the textbook investigation at Alabama went undetected for a year while the process played out -- including a secret appearance before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. It was done so to protect recruiting and worked like a charm.
And by the way, this is all just fine with the fans who don't really know or can't tell the difference between a legitimate story and something sent out by a member of the school's publicity staff. People neither trust the media nor particularly like the media anymore. Some of this is self-inflicted. Most of this results from the times in which we live."
If you don't read anything else on this site, we encourage you to at least read Finebaum's full article linked above. It might shed some light as to why we don't hear more stories about players being cut and oversigning.
The truth of the matter is that beat reporters should be posted outside of certain schools demanding answers on roster cuts and oversigning, but the reality of the situation is that none of them can afford to be cut off, such as the poor guy from the Orlando Sentinel who had to cower down to Urban Meyer and then was forced to accept a private apology.
If a reporter almost gets banned from practice for quoting a player, could you imagine what would happen if he really took Urban Meyer to task on his practice of oversigning players or about the huge number of arrests by his players? Forget about it, that guy would be done.
The bottom line here is that the coaches and the schools are going to control what message gets sent out, and it's up to us as fans and followers of the sport to dig deeper for the facts and expose the truth. Hopefully, in some way we can do that here with the topic of oversigning. We're not professional writers and we're not being paid to do investigative work, but we care about college football and we can write whatever we want without fear of economic security. And maybe with your help we can continue to put a spotlight on oversigning until it is completely removed.