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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Reaction on Lowder and Auburn
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

AuburnFlagsOne thing I can say for sure about The Fall of Bobby Lowder and the Fallout at Auburn is that I wish I had written it with the benefit of everything I learned in the five days after it hit the web last Saturday. After writing 5000 words, I was almost instantly made to feel like I knew very little about the subject. Which of course is true.

Had I suspected it would be widely read outside my normal TCF readership, let alone in Alabama, I might have crafted my words more carefully, especially so as not to demean good people involved in Auburn athletics who are surely working hard at their jobs in what must be a tough situation. I'm hearing much has been done to stabilize things in recent months. No doubt overestimating Lowder's influence is as unwise as underestimating it.

The article was basically my way of asking, from afar, "hey, why isn't this guy the big story here, instead of Cam Newton?"  Or at the very least, why wasn't Lowder's fascinating quarter-century reign and ongoing fall being chronicled by someone? Independent of the Cam Newton saga, it's an incredible story.


Anyway, 90,000 hits later I'm getting smarter about the situation. The email reaction was mostly from the SEC area, primarily Alabama, and was 95% very civil and informative. Several people wrote to thank me and to give me additional information. Thanks for that correspondence folks.  The email was not without its share of criticism though, some of it legit.

Paraphrasing..."you cite some ancient history about 1993 (or 1998) and you say guilty then...therefore guilty now, without any evidence".  I certainly made some leaps and suppositions in an opinion column. I based them on everything I've seen in the public record to this point.

Here's where Auburn's uniqueness in the annals of scandals comes in. In other schools' scandals, at the very least, the people responsible have to go. Auburn is unique. Their troublesome, rich, fanatical sports booster happens to run the athletic department. If the same guy has been there the whole time, it's not unfair to suggest that things might not be much different today, or right up to 2009 at least.

A couple of emailers did give a reason why you can't just make the leap from the 90's to today...saying that through most of the Tuberville years, the coach was able to insulate Lowder from the program better than his predecessors had. But that left them conceding that Tuberville too was forced out eventually by Lowder, presumably in no small part due to this resistance.

"How About Your Buckeyes?"

One guy asks why I don't write instead about OSU's player-paying scandals. I hoped someone would, because a couple of them are instructive. I reminded a few people that Maurice Clarett had a one-year career at Ohio State as a result of what he did, which if I recall amounted to the use of an SUV from a dealer, in addition to his own crime of insurance fraud, which is what got him tossed from school. He did accept cash from boosters, said to be in the thousands...and he got kicked out.

Then there's former OSU basketball coach Jim O'Brien, a thoroughly decent man by all accounts, who was found in 2004 to have paid a recruit from Serbia some $6000 of what appears to have been his own money, because the kid and his family needed the money in their war-torn land...and also because the kid was seven feet tall. O'Brien was immediately fired for this violation of NCAA rules...and you know what?

They didn't name the OSU basketball court after him, and sit him at courtside for years afterward. Auburn is different.  The scale of the violations at OSU is notable too, at least compared to the numbers Cecil Newton was throwing around a half dozen years later.


Are you now, or have you ever been an Auburn booster?

One Alabaman called what I wrote "yellow journalism"...classic guilt by association...trying to tie Lowder to Milton McGregor, who has been arrested for bribing state legislators to benefit his gambling interests, as if I'm pronouncing Lowder guilty by proxy...or something.

I don't think I did that, but it certainly isn't outside the realm of the public interest to take note of their association. McGregor was I believe the second largest shareholder in Colonial BancGroup, and in fact ponied up several million dollars just weeks before the bank was seized by the feds last year. That they are both prominent, wealthy million-dollar Auburn donors, and Auburn athletic boosters in addition to being business partners might all be coincidental too.  Sorry if I somehow appeared to tie them together.

Understand I'm just guessing here, but I'm thinking the NCAA may have noticed previously what to them might be troubling ties between the gambling entrepreneur and the man running Auburn athletics.


It's been a crazy week though. I'm glad the unexpected spread of the article generated a bunch of national traffic to this web site, of which I'm proud to be a part. If a few more transplanted Clevelanders (or any other sympathizers with our lonely cause) discovered this place and its staff of 25 fine writers as a result of the Lowder story, it was worth doing. You know what they say. No one ever became a Cleveland fan because he was a front-runner. All are welcome. Browse the site a bit, and be sure to come back.

A northern Alabama radio station emailed early in the week, having seen the article and looking for an outsiders' perspective on their situation, and I did a segment with them on Wednesday afternoon. It was Bama country, and I was very politely received. My fifteen minutes continued with a quote from the article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, in an article by Allen Barra that's worth a look in spite of that. Twitter was the principal agent of the article's spread, and it continues to percolate there.

I know politics ain't beanbag, and they practice the craft a bit differently in Alabama, but  there's so much about researching this story that made me feel like I needed a shower. I'll admit to being ready to get back to Sugar Bowl talk ASAP.


On Newton: By the time this is read, Cam will probably have the Heisman, and I think he deserves it. He's the best player I've seen in a while. He'll rise above the coming train wreck at Auburn, but I feel for the current and future Auburn athletes that may end up paying the price instead. For that reason, I kind of hope Auburn isn't punished for what could be Lowder's Lifetime Achievement Award once he's 100% gone from the scene.  That might make the Death Penalty seem like a slap on the wrist.

I fully expect Auburn to roll over Oregon and win the national title. Let the mess sort itself out next year. As intriguing as my little foray into the past at Auburn was for me, the future figures to be equally fascinating. Maybe the damage occasioned by Lowder's fall from power will be weathered by the university and the community better than anyone expects. On the other hand, it could be great theater.

Pass the popcorn.

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