It’s February and more importantly it’s national signing day for college football players and programs around the country. Take a break from following the updates of who faxed their letter of intent to whom and let’s hit some big topics. Who’s ready? Let’s rumble!
The Athletic O
Late Monday afternoon it was revealed that the Ohio State Athletic Department has revamped the Ohio State athletic crest. As with any type of change, opinions flew around Twitter and the blogosphere quickly and in large quantities.
It seems as though the overwhelming consensus is that the newly redesigned Athletic O is an atrocity. Despite there really only being one major difference between the old and new (the words Ohio State are filled in with black rather than being white and grey) people have gone off the ledge and are expecting the return of the Lord at any moment. Personally, I don’t get the hate for it. Anytime the color black is added to logos and especially uniforms it seems to make a difference for the positive. Black is an intimidating color mostly because it isn’t a color at all, it is the absence of color. Ok, that was artsy and stupid… To me the bottom line is that I hope they infuse more black into the uniforms. If the Athletic O adding some black to it is a precursor to that happening, then I hope black facemasks, black shoes, black socks, black trim etc. aren’t far behind.
The Bucks lost a tough one in overtime last night to TTUN. But there is one big positive to take away from it: LaQuinton Ross was huge and is hopefully beginning to emerge as the second scorer the Buckeyes need.
Ross played 23 minutes and scored 16 points on 7-10 shooting. Deshaun Thomas finished with 17, but it was TTUN’s Tim Hardaway Jr. that led all scorers with 23. I’m not going to say the kid was lucky, but his 6 of 9 from the three point arch was easily the difference is the game being tight and going to OT and the Buckeyes walking away with a comfortable 8-10 point win.
Christopher Key is the co-owner of SWATS, the company that says it provided deer-antler spray to Ray Lewis that contains the banned substance IGF-1. He told ESPN’s Joe Schad a week ago that he personally witnessed about five Alabama players spray the same substance (sold by SWATS) into their mouths. He also said about 20 players purchased the spray at a hotel room in New Orleans leading into the BCS national championship game against LSU in 2012. He continued and added he had sold about 20 more bottles to players at the apartment of an Alabama player 10 days before the game.
Last Wednesday evening, in what should have been a shocking revelation, Key told Sports Illustrated writers David Epstein and (yes, same guy) George Dohrmann in their expose’ on SWATS:
“You’re familiar with HGH, correct?” asked Key, referring to human growth hormone. “It’s converted in the liver to IGF-1.” IGF-1, or -insulin-like growth factor, is a natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth. “We have deer that we harvest out of New Zealand,” Key said. “Their antlers are the fastest-growing substance on planet Earth . . . because of the high concentration of IGF-1. We’ve been able to freeze dry that out, extract it, put it in a sublingual spray that you shake for 20 seconds and then spray three [times] under your tongue. . . . This stuff has been around for almost 1,000 years, this is stuff from the Chinese.”
The SI article goes into the details of SWATS operations, specifically Key and his partner Mitch Ross and the many crazy forms of treatment they provide their clients. Apparently they have everything from reverse electro shock bottled water to hologram stickers that stop cell phone energy from wearing you down. Key is known, per the SI article, to have on many occasions told people how he will cure AIDS. I’m not making this up. There is no doubt that these are top-flight guys that you want around your football program.
Following the allegations that its players were using a banned substance, Alabama released a statement claiming it has asked on multiple occasions that the company stay out of contact with the team. The university has sent two cease-and-desist letters to SWATS and says it has for a while been aware of the company based in Birmingham, Ala.
And then just like that, the story went away. No more questions, no more investigating, no nothing. I’ve got a lot of questions, and the first one is why anyone else doesn’t?
SWATS is an acronym for “Sports with Alternatives to Steroids”. That’s a fair enough idea and a company that probably should exist in some form or another. But when you’re breaking down the substances in HGH to procure the banned IGF-1, which HGH turns into in the human body, how is it an “alternative to steroids” and more importantly why isn’t the NCAA in full SWAT-team mode with egghead scientists finding out exactly what these people are selling to SEC football players?
Whoa, SEC football players? Yes, I say SEC football players and not exclusively Alabama football players because SWATS sold the product to LSU players prior to their 2011 matchup in Tuscaloosa with the Crimson Tide that they won 9-6. Certainly you remember ESPN hyping the “Game of the Century” only to have it turn into a snoozer. It was from there, according to SI, that Bama players initially got the idea to contact SWATS for the spray that helps them recover and retain energy at a much higher rate than an opponent not consuming the product along with all the normal HGH benefits.
It goes on. Former New Orleans Saint fullback Heath Evans, now an NFL Network analyst, uses the deer-antler spray and pills daily to help deter the long term effects of concussions he suffered as a player. Evans is an Auburn alum and learned of SWATS through Tigers players. That makes three programs in the SEC with links to SWATS. Are we naïve enough to think it stops there?
The NFL and NCAA has banned IGF-1, however the NFL has taken it a step farther and warned its players not to involve themselves with the controversial company SWATS because it is a threat to the pharmaceutical industry. In other words, the NFL has deemed SWATS bad news but can’t ban the company, only the ingredients in its products. Interestingly, the NCAA has issued no such warning or done any private investigation into SWATS. Why?
The Alabama statement is a nice rebuttal to the alleged incident involving its player, but here’s what I want to know: When did Alabama make the NCAA aware of this issue? If they have not, why? If the NCAA was notified by Alabama, or any other SEC school involved, why are we just now hearing about this company and its products?
Key says that two nights before the National Championship in New Orleans (January 2012), SWATS gave a demonstration to Alabama football players at the New Orleans Marriott. Some players even brought family members with them. Where was Nick Saban, the Alabama staff and administration that supposedly warned this company to stay away from its program? This is a company that you have sent cease-and-desist letters to and you’re not shutting down this presentation? And if you didn’t know about, that may be even worse.
I don’t have the answers to my questions but I sure would like to hear someone at a major media source ask them. I’m not insinuating that SWATS should be a banned company like BALCO, but if these men are making the claims they are doesn’t the NCAA have a responsibility to investigate the validity of those claims and the involvement of its members?
Maybe Key and Ross are actually doing some decent work in the area of head trauma recovery and helping players who are suffering with the long term effects. I don’t mean to disparage them or their company even though they are knowingly selling a banned substance to NCAA athletes. I’m not so quick to label them the next Victor Conte x2, yet. I realize it took the Federal government to actually take down BALCO, but shouldn’t the NCAA learn from the experience and give these people a serious look into? The NFL apparently has, why not the NCAA?
If media outlets like Yahoo and Sports Illustrated can investigate a story involving players receiving tattoos for memorabilia which prompts the NCAA to then investigate the matter, why is this any different? And why is it when Sports Illustrated and Yahoo were doing their research into “tat-gate” the focus was on getting the names of involved players and determining how much the head coach really knew about the situation, meanwhile, this SI report with considerably larger infractions and consequences focuses the bulk of its investigation on the company manufacturing the product itself and its history with professional athletes? I don’t understand. Shouldn’t that be what the NCAA is doing while the reporters are trying to get the dirt on the programs?
Before you go saying this is just sour grapes and me still being bitter about Ohio State and the tattoo scandal, ask yourself this: Is a player giving a championship ring to a tattoo artist for a few hundred bucks and some free ink in any way as detrimental to the outcome of actual games as a player taking raw HGH?
The two are in no way comparable. One is kids doing something dumb to act like “ballers” and the other is kids doing something dumber to get a competitive advantage on the field.
Why is this company and their connection to the SEC being ignored by both the NCAA and major media outlets?
Former Ohio State wide receiver Chris Carter has finally received his deserved recognition from the NFL and will be enshrined into its Hall Of Fame as a member of the class of 2013. Carter was a Buckeye from 1984-86.
Phil Steele says that the preseason number one will be Alabama and number two will be our Ohio State Buckeyes. Not exactly going out on a limb with that prediction, but still I think the first to make it.
Congratulations to the Balti… no. Never.
Wrap it up
Signing day is a wrap or wrapping up depending on when you read this. I hope you were glued to the BBC all day for updates and coverage! Until next week, Go Bucks!
Metallica track of the week
I felt like going old school this week. With it being national signing and Vonn Bell selecting our Ohio State Buckeyes, how about we go back to Orion Music and More 2012, night 2, and let’s rip For Whom The Bell Tolls!