There has been a lot of discussion about the article I wrote yesterday. Towards the end of the article, I pointed out that I am open to criticism, and perfectly willing to reconsider my position based on holes in my argument that are pointed out. In fact, I want you to do that, in the same manner that the national media needs to do that to the Yahoo! article. If we keep revising our positions to account for incorrect or inaccurate things that people are pointing out, in the end, I think we can have a more informed narrative. In any event, I wanted to respond to some of the things that have been written and/or commented on. I have a day job, so I wanted to post this before I head off to work, at which point I probably won’t be able to respond again until this evening.
Criticism #1: I am a random, anonymous blogger making it easy to take pot shots at Yahoo!
This point is perfectly valid. In my defense, no one read this blog prior to yesterday evening other than a few members of our AATU community, so I didn’t think it was necessary to identify myself. Now that it is out the public domain, I certainly shouldn’t hide behind a pseudonym. My name, picture and clickable link to my e-mail address (that last one might have been a mistake, please don’t spam my e-mail, and yes, I have a Yahoo! e-mail address) are now included at the top of this article as well as at the top of the original article.
Criticism #2: This guy is a Miami homer.
Absolutely correct. I am. The site is called “All About The U”. I would hope that anyone would approach that article with an abundance of skepticism, as you should when anyone claims anything. But I hope you won’t dismiss what I wrote out of hand based on my allegiances. I think if you read the piece, you will find I tried to take a fact-based, analytical approach.
Criticism #3: Some variant of this guy is delusional/making excuses for Miami/an apologist/trying to shoot the messenger to get Miami lighter sanctions
I thought I made the purpose of my article fairly clear. I was not even attempting to exonerate Miami, or excuse them of alleged violations. If I could prove that Miami didn’t commit violations, I would have contacted the Miami Athletic Department. For all I know, all 72 players are guilty. The NCAA is in their 5th month of an investigation that should ultimately shed some light on what Miami is and is not guilty of. They won’t care what Yahoo! alleges, and they certainly won’t care what I wrote. Far from apologizing, earlier this week I hammered Miami pretty heavily and personally (with no hard facts, obviously, just gut feeling) believe that Miami is heading to some completely justified sanctions. But, I want to see what the NCAA reports first. At that point, we can discuss appropriate penalties.
The guilt or innocence of Miami was not the purpose of the article. That is obviously the most important overall issue, and the NCAA will weigh in on that. But this particular article was about Yahoo!’s methods, and whether the proof they unearthed supported the conclusions they drew on a player by player basis. Was their contention that they found evidence to backup Shapiro’s claims on 72 players accurate? That was the question the article was addressing.
Criticism #4: Player X, Y, or Z belongs in another category.
Now that the trivial stuff is out of the way, we can get into the details. There can definitely be a case made that a player can be in another category. On an individual basis, you can nitpick (something I was guilty of doing and wish I hadn’t to Yahoo!’s article earlier this week when I dissected timestamps on photos and was proven incorrect in a credit card statement assertion), but can anyone really argue that Yahoo! at least didn’t partially cook the books? To prove that point, here is the chart:
People have made claims that sometimes the picture evidence itself is a violation, or that multiple sources is good enough. I still stick by my number of 12 allegations that Yahoo!, based on their evidence, should feel comfortable making. But, just to prove a point, let’s go to an extreme and move all 7 players in the “photo” and “multiple sources” categories into the “actual evidence” column. You now have a number of 19. Still nowhere near 72. I contend that you will most likely find that the general consensus number of “provable allegations” is much closer to 12 than 72, which was the point of my article.
Criticism #5: 12 is still a high number
Yes, it is. But again, I wasn’t trying to exonerate Miami and prove that they did nothing wrong. If the NCAA can prove the 12 allegations that I feel Yahoo! is justified in making, Miami is in deep, deep trouble. What I was pointing out was that the 72 number was not consistent with Yahoo!’s evidence. If 12 is the real number, that means Yahoo! made allegations without sufficient evidence against 60 players. If the number is 19 (as in the previous criticism), then Yahoo!’s number drops to 53. And on and on. In truth, the burden of proof is on the person accusing a player of violations to backup their claims. Yahoo!’s number should be zero, shouldn’t it?
Criticism #6: Your analysis is subjective and biased
Admittedly, it is. Where to categorize players requires some subjectivity. But, I urge everyone that doesn’t have the time (which is completely understandable) to read through all the evidence and my counter-arguments to take what I am calling the Vegas Franklin Test. It will take less than a minute and requires the following steps:
- Navigate to the Vegas Franklin accusation page
- Read it (it’s very, very short)
- Ask yourself honestly if based on what you just read, Yahoo! should have included that accusation in their probe.
If the Vegas Franklin Test resulted in an answer of “no” in step 3, then you are beginning to see why I wrote this article.
EDIT: APPARENTLY YAHOO! SAW MY ARTICLE AND AGREED THAT THEIR EVIDENCE HERE WAS FLIMSY, AS THEY HAVE UPDATED FRANKLIN’S PAGE TO INCLUDE A SOURCE. THIS RAISES 3 INTERESTING POINTS THAT ARE IMPORTANT FOR THE PURPOSES OF MY ARTICLE:
- Did Yahoo! already have knowledge of this source and just fail to put that in there? If so, why?
- Did Yahoo! go out and find a corroborating source after I pointed out that their evidence against Vegas Franklin was non-existent? If so, shouldn’t they have done that BEFORE accusing Franklin? Again, my purpose in the article was not to prove Miami did nothing wrong. They might all be guilty, the 12 current players might all be suspended…I really don’t know. I just wanted to examine Yahoo!’s evidence for the case they are making.
- The evidence Yahoo! has is still just one source, and if re-categorized (assuming Yahoo! had the source all along, if not, there is no need to re-categorize and in fact Yahoo! is admitting that they launched an accusation without sufficient evidence), it would still fall into the one source category and not really be enough to prove a violation off of.
Finally, the Vegas Franklin Test still works fine with Howard Clark (we’ll see if Yahoo! claims they have a source for this as well in the near future).
Criticism #7: Hyperbole, biased, loaded language
If there is one thing that I could change about the article (I don’t think it is right to edit it now that it has gone viral), it would be to not include this language. A sportswriter I highly respect tweeted that he “wish had less ‘renegade’ bias words…his facts don’t need it”. He is absolutely correct. I will take this a step further:
- I should not have used the word “renegade” to describe Charles Robinson. I was facetiously making a play on words with the title of the original Yahoo! article. But, in a fact based, analytical article, that didn’t need to be there. Robinson is obviously not a “renegade”, but a professional.
- I spent 2 paragraphs talking about the death penalty parameters because I find it fascinating that the reason Miami is death penalty eligible is because of the baseball teams violations and not because of the football Pell Grant scandal that landed the football team on probation in the mid-90s. The facts I used were correct, but it had nothing to do with Yahoo! and detracted from the article.
- I made a joke about Frank Haith committing violations against the game of basketball. That had no place in the article.
- I used another play on words to call Robinson a “yahoo” and referred to it as “shoddy” journalism. That had no place in the article. Robinson did exhibit some great investigative journalism here in unearthing facts and evidence. I don’t envy that task, given the effort it took me just to read through all his allegations. But, where I believe Robinson “jumped the shark”, and I stand by this, is that he embellished and misrepresented what his fine detective work uncovered, implying that he had proof to backup Shapiro’s claims against 72 players, when the actual number is much lower.