HBO Birmingham Ratings Go Through The Roof

I’ve long said that college football is now the second-most popular spectator sport in America, and the Nielson ratings for the March 30 premiere episode of the HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel special on college sports do little to discourage that notion.

The first showing of the HBO production drew a 1.1 national rating, highest of the season by a significant margin for the 16-year-old HBO Real Sports franchise.

With subscription-based HBO in 30 million homes in the United States, that means around 300,000 viewers watched a single showing of the cable outlet’s examination of the business and ethics of college sports - despite the fact that the same episode will air continuously on HBO for the next month.

Then there’s the Birmingham market. Read more…

Auburn Declined Comment To ‘One-Sided’ HBO

Wednesday evening Gene Chizik criticized HBO for its production of a recent Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel show segment examining the ethics of college football.

Gene Chizik

In the HBO piece hosted by Andrea Kremer, four former Auburn football players made multiple allegations of activities at the school that would be considered NCAA violations.

In his remarks to the media on the same day the HBO special premiered, Chizik said he felt the presentation was one-sided:

“What’s disturbing to me is they interviewed other former Auburn football players that had exactly the opposite to say but somehow or another that failed to make the air. Unless I missed that section.”

Today a source familiar with the HBO production told me that the four ex-Auburn players who appeared on the show were the only former Auburn players who were interviewed by HBO on-camera.

Later during his Wednesday press conference, a reporter asked Chizik: Read more…

HBO Video: Auburn Coach Stressed Lackademics

Here’s video of former Auburn football players Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray during the premiere of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel special on the business and ethics of college sports:

In the clip, Ramsey explains to HBO correspondent Andrea Kremer the value of an education to an Auburn football player - as allegedly interpreted by an unnamed Auburn football coach at the time. (Ramsey played for Auburn during the 2007-2008 seasons before an injury ended his career.)

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HBO Allegations: Can NCAA Prosecute Auburn?

Tuesday I reported on an upcoming HBO Real Sports special on college sports - premiering tonight on HBO at 10p ET - that includes allegations by four ex-Auburn football players of activity that would certainly be considered NCAA violations.

NCAA Statute of Limitations

(Page 408 of current NCAA Division I rules handbook - pdf)

Many of those allegations emanated from former Auburn players Stanley McClover and Troy Reddick, who played football for the school during the early-to-mid 2000s.

With that in mind, can the NCAA prosecute Auburn for the alleged violations that may have occurred during that time?

Below is the official NCAA bylaw on the subject: Read more…

HBO: Auburn’s Response To Ex-Player Allegations

Earlier today, I transcribed a portion of a segment from an upcoming HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel special on college sports - to premiere Wednesday at 10p ET.

Stanley McClover accused Auburn of NCAA violations on HBO Real Sports

(McClover on his time at Auburn: “I destroyed my life.”)

That segment, hosted by Andrea Kremer, contained allegations by four former Auburn football players that included an Auburn assistant coach paying former starting Auburn offensive lineman Troy Reddick nearly $5,000 over two seasons to former Auburn starter and ex-NFL player Stanley McClover being paid $4,000 for a single-game performance against Alabama.

Also making allegations of activity that would be considered against NCAA rules were former Auburn football players Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray.

At the end of Kremer’s segment, titled Pay for Play, the host read Auburn’s official response to HBO regarding the allegations by its former players: Read more…

‘Pay-For-Play’ HBO Trailer: Ex-Auburn Player Talks

On Feb. 22 I broke the news that during production of an HBO Real Sports special on the business and ethics of high profile college athletics, former Auburn football player Stanley McClover had told an HBO interviewer that a former Auburn assistant coach had provided him extra benefits that would be considered outside of NCAA rules.

Auburn football player Troy Reddick appears in HBO Real Sports Episode

McClover’s claims about the arrangement were subsequently debunked by his high school coach and former Auburn teammates.

We’ve since learned that the Real Sports episode on college athletics, which debuts on HBO on March 30, will be broken into three parts. From an HBO press release:

Two long-form segments anchor the program, setting the stage for an extended roundtable panel hosted by Bryant Gumbel and featuring former University of Michigan head football coach Rich Rodriguez, outspoken college basketball commentator Billy Packer, print journalist Jason Whitlock of and former Ivy League Athletics Commissioner Jeff Orleans. The group will address a host of issues relating to the NCAA and the regulation of its 1,055 member schools.

The “two long-form segments” include:

The Money Trail: Every year, thousands of talented young student-athletes sign letters of intent and obtain full-ride athletic scholarships (tuition and board) from the biggest, wealthiest programs in America, effectively giving up all rights to revenue generated by their participation, including TV rights fees, merchandising and ticket sales. But with a dramatic increase in revenue from top programs and athletes’ growing awareness of their contribution, many are starting to ask if there should be financial compensation. REAL SPORTS correspondent Bernard Goldberg examines the notion of student-athletes remaining untainted amateurs while generating pro-type revenue for their schools. Are they getting a fair shake?

Pay to Play: Should athletes at Division I programs be financially compensated? And would that curb the headline-grabbing stories of inappropriate payments and benefits? More and more standout athletes in top programs are seemingly putting their education on the back burner to focus on what’s really important ? the money. Those destined for the NBA and NFL face the moral dilemma of dealing with “advisors” and “street agents” who can deliver the funds and material items they desire while in school in exchange for a promise of future reciprocation when they reach the pros. REAL SPORTS correspondent Andrea Kremer delves into the controversial and complex subject of premium college-bound athletes receiving benefits that are prohibited by the NCAA.

Immediately following the March 30 presentation of REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL, at 11:00 p.m. (ET), viewers can log on to for an exclusive “overtime” webcast segment, in which the roundtable panel will continue the discussion and answer questions from viewers.

HBO is currently airing a promotional trailer for the scheduled broadcast which does not include McClover but does feature another former Auburn player and an ex-Alabama football player.

Former Alabama wide receiver Tyrone Prothro is shown in the promotional video being interviewed by Goldberg.

In the HBO preview clip, Prothro and Goldberg have this exchange: Read more…

NFL Star Shames Ex-Teammate About Allegation

Tuesday I broke the news that former Auburn football player Stanley McClover claimed in an interview with HBO Real Sports that he received extra benefits in violation of NCAA rules from a former Auburn assistant coach when the two were at the school.

Ronnie Brown calls out Stanley McClover

Wednesday I reported that McClover was subsequently wavering on his claim about the former Auburn assistant coach after his former high school coach disputed his story.

In remarks to Charles Goldberg of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS today, current NFL and ex-Auburn football star Ronnie Brown essentially called out his former Auburn teammate McClover for his comments to HBO.

Brown to Goldberg about his recent conversations about McClover:

“He had told me that HBO had come to him and wanted to do a piece on should athletes get paid, and I said, ‘Oh.’

“And then Stanley said, ‘They’re going to do something on my charity.’ And I said, ‘That’s cool. That’s a good way to get the charity out there.’

“I found out that Stanley was talking about he had a choice to go to different colleges, and one of the reasons he chose Auburn was because they offered him money. So I called him. I said, ‘Whoa, what is this? What is this about?’ Read more…

Sources: Coach, School Dispute McClover Claim

Yesterday I reported that former Auburn football player Stanley McClover recently told HBO Real Sports that when he was a current player at Auburn, he received extra benefits from a former Auburn assistant coach that would be considered in violation of NCAA rules.

Stanley McClover accused Auburn of NCAA violations on HBO Real Sports

I’ve since learned more specifics about the situation from multiple sources familiar with the HBO production. Read more…

Former Auburn Player To Detail Allegation On HBO

In a recent interview with HBO Real Sports, former Auburn football player Stanley McClover alleged that while he was a current player at the school, an Auburn assistant football coach provided him extra benefits that would be considered a violation of NCAA rules.

Stanley McClover accused Auburn of NCAA violations on HBO Real Sports

As part of a Real Sports episode on the “State of College Sports in America” to be aired March 30 on HBO, I’ve been told McClover names the assistant coach in the piece.

The accused assistant coach is no longer at the school.

The allegation against the Auburn football program by McClover, who left the school in January 2006, falls outside the NCAA’s standard statute of limitation guidline of four years, with one notable exception. Read more…

MSU Booster Bond to Tell All If Cam Gets a Pass?

Earlier today I broke the news that NCAA investigators were in Louisiana Monday taking a hard look at the football recruiting practices of Auburn University.

Cecil Newton was at the BCS Championship Game

(Bond: No NCAA Justice For Auburn To Spring More Media Leaks?)

At the center of that NCAA investigation is Sean Nelson, a so-called “street agent” who may have unduly assisted Auburn football coaches in the recruitment of Trovon Reed and Greg Robinson.

Another possible concern for Auburn on the NCAA investigatory front involves ex-Mississippi State football player and now-notorious college football recruiting go-between Kenny Rogers.

It was Rogers’ now-admitted solicitation of funds from a Mississippi State booster on Cecil Newton’s behalf that led the father of ex-Auburn quarterback Cam Newton to admit to NCAA investigators that he had been a willing participant in a scheme to offer his son’s football services to Mississippi State in exchange for a cash payment.

Today I learned that for that past month representatives of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel have repeatedly asked Rogers for a sitdown interview to further discuss his involvement with Cam Newton’s recruitment. Recently, Rogers agreed, and will be interviewed on March 1 with the visit to air on a yet-to-be determined date.

That date of the Rogers interview on HBO may depend on the cooperation of former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond and ex-MSU player and booster Bill Bell. HBO has also been pressing them for sitdowns the past month, but so far neither has agreed to participate. Read more…