If you’ve spent any time whatsoever in
Mississippi the South anywhere-people-care-at-all-about-college-football lately you’ve likely heard about the NCAA investigation and subsequent allegations against Ole Miss. Generally, I would consider that another topic for another day (and another website). However, since Ole Miss spent a whole lot of time and effort trying to defend itself against the statements of one of our current players, here I am trying to enjoy the warmth and soft light of the dumpster fire Mississippi State has seemingly been dragged into. I should probably blame the NCAA for dragging Leo Lewis into this mess in the first place, but whatever.
Specifically though, this piece pertains to recent news that Rebel Rags (aka: [Booster 8]) is suing a couple of our players for defamation. With nothing else going on in college sports, people have begun grabbing the popcorn while they watch what happens in our state. For those like me whose knowledge of law is based solely on experience watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, “defamation” is basically when Person A spreads lies about Person/Business B and it affects Person/Business B negatively. Think slander or libel. Huge help throughout this piece comes from my friends at The Law Offices of Google, Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
Anyway, here are my predictions for what will happen as a result of the Rebel Rags suit.
The main concern stemming from a civil lawsuit involving our current players is that they may be required to offer testimony in court - testimony that could shed light on how those players ended up at Mississippi State. Personally, I like to think that State is above all reproach and that our players chose to attend our great university based on their love for the program and a commitment to work hard. But maybe you’re
realistic cynical and think that every major program pays their players under the table to attend there.
The absolute best possible scenario would be that we didn’t do anything shady at all, and this is all completely pointless. Maybe our players have to pay Rebel Rags, but we don’t get involved in an NCAA investigation.
The next best possible scenario is that none of our players would have to give testimony. That could happen in any number of ways:
- A judge throws this suit out before our players are ever really involved.
- The matter is settled outside of court.
- Rebel Rags drops the suit. Sounds crazy, but lawyers aren’t cheap. If this gets dragged out for a long time (something that never happens in the legal system... lol jk) they may decide to cut their losses and quit pursuing our players.
The timeline of the worst case scenario goes something like this:
- Summer 2017 - Our players are required to answer questions about their recruitment to Mississippi State, and they drop a huge bomb: they were paid thousands of dollars to come to Starkville. Also they lied about ever getting benefits from Ole Miss and they provide proof that Ole Miss never doctored ACT scores and they can prove that Laremy Tunsil never used a loaner car and basically the only violations Ole Miss committed were some piddly Level III guys. NCAA begins investigation.
- Fall 2017 - The Mississippi State football program implodes in light of the NCAA investigation. It gets bad, y’all. NCAA drops their case against Ole Miss two weeks before the Rebels win the College Football Playoff.
- Spring 2018 - Mississippi State is given the death penalty and is kicked out of the SEC. We become an independent school after being rejected by the Sun Belt. We can’t compete in football until 2019.
Obviously, the above isn’t going to happen. I think most State fans are worried that statements made by the players cited in the Rebel Rags suit could ignite an NCAA investigation into our own program’s recruiting practices. If that really were to happen, a player or two may have to give up some games, we may have to give up some scholarships, but I doubt that we’d end up catching the same kind of heat that Ole Miss or UNC is dealing with right now.
I think all of the NCAA hoopla surrounding the players and programs in this state makes the rivalry more heated and competitive. My bold prediction is that this legal matter drags on through the season, Mississippi State makes huge strides behind a veteran QB and new defensive coordinator, and Ole Miss relishes the spoiler role despite their self imposed bowl ban. By the time the Egg Bowl comes around, both teams will have near perfect records and the rivalry will be at fever pitch. We will see the Greatest Game in Egg Bowl History in 2017, with State playing for the West crown and Ole Miss playing to keep us out of Atlanta.
Ultimately, I don’t think State fans have anything to worry about based on what we know now. As most of us learned with Scam Newton, the NCAA doesn’t give a lot of credit to the “well if he turned down our money and went somewhere else, he had to get paid more there” argument. The Rebel Rags lawsuit could dig something up on our recruiting, but it seems likely that it will either be dragged out, dropped, or produce relatively little damage to our program.