The Auburn football program is back under the microscope after former New York Times and Sports Illustrated columnist Selena Roberts released a story on April 3. The report centered around the arrest of former Tigers defensive back Mike McNeil and alleged a laundry list of issues: academic fraud, paying players and the coaching staff involving themselves in police investigations.
A number of the figures who purportedly broke the rules have issued denials, including former AU defensive coordinator and current Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Auburn players Antoine Carter and Mike Blanc. Former Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said that he didn't see Auburn players throwing money around when he came on a recruiting visit.
As you might expect, the report has elicited a wide range of reactions. Auburn fans have, by and large, greeted the report with a healthy dose of skepticism. The last time there were allegations of major wrongdoing on the Plains was the Cam Newton recruiting scandal, and the program came away from that unscathed by the NCAA. It's entirely possible that this scenario could end the same way, but at this point, no one knows what will happen.
Opposing fans tend to see things a bit differently. People have suspected Auburn of running a dirty program for years, and this is further fuel for their fire. If you want Auburn to be dirty, then you're going to see this report maybe not as gospel, but as another indication that the Tigers are dirty.
The real question, at least in terms of the NCAA and potential sanctions, is whether this will come back to hurt Auburn. It's safe to say the NCAA and their enforcement arm are not in the midst of a good run. The investigation into the Nevin Shapiro scandal in Miami has been botched so thoroughly that it's possible the Hurricanes avoid getting the hammer. Oregon is still technically under investigation for the Will Lyles/recruiting service issues. Unless the NCAA goes completely off its standard procedures like it did with Penn State (which, considering their current political capital, is highly doubtful), investigators probably won't really dig into this case for quite some time, if at all.
Let's step back from college football for a moment. Broken NCAA rules are inconsequential compared to the accusations of institutional racism and police interference. That is Real Life Serious, not College Football Serious. Personally, I'm much more interested in finding out the truth about that, not whether a kid got a couple hundred dollars from a coach.
How much of this report is true? Time will tell, I suppose. But then again, it might not.