UPDATE (Sept. 21, 2011, 12:36am PT): The ASSOCIATED PRESS corrects the record, noting that Dennis Talbott did not cite his affiliation with This Week In Football - or Icon SMI - when obtaining a sideline media credential under the name “Jay Talbott” for the Sept. 3 Michigan-Western Michigan game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
(Website? Dormant. Talbott Facebook page? Awash in Michigan pics!)
Instead, Talbott duped Michigan into gifting him a field pass by noting his affiliation with the website OhioSportsWeekly.com. What Talbott neglected to tell UM when he obtained his precious credential on August 31 was that he himself owned the OhioSportsWeekly.com domain - and had slapped up an empty storefront at the web address designed only to persuade media relations personnel into thinking Talbott was a member of the working media.
In the three weeks since Talbott shot the Michigan-Western Michigan game, he has added dozens of photos of the game - including one of himself shooting the action from the sideline - to his Facebook page. Yet the so-called media outlet Talbott claimed as his sole reason for being at the Big House, OhioSportsWeekly.com, not only hasn’t been updated since the UM-WMU game, the site has remained virtually unchanged since Feb. 1, 2011.
UPDATE (Sept. 20, 2011, 1:05pm ET): Michael Rothstein of ESPN reports that after learning from the SbB report below that Ohio State-blacklisted photog Dennis Talbott had gained sideline media access for the Sept. 3 Michigan-Western Michigan football game at Michigan Stadium, the school announced today that Talbott “has been banned by the Michigan athletic department.”
(Talbott fallback? Shooting rogue OSU booster’s favorite high school coach)
Rothstein reported that Talbott used an “unfamiliar” name while claiming affiliation with the very same publication that scored him sidelines at Ohio State beginning in 2009 - and access to the high school coach who has sent the most players to Ohio State the past decade, Cleveland-Glenville head coach Ted Ginn, Sr.
- - -
Three months ago an anonymous source alleged to ESPN that Dennis Talbott, a Central Ohio-based businessman with a sudden, new-found love for photography, “made at least 35 payments to [Terrelle] Pryor in 2009 and 2010 for signing memorabilia, for a total payout of between $20,000 and $40,000.”
(Banned By Ohio State, Talbott Now Employing Northern Exposure)
Following the ESPN report, SbB revealed details of those transactions and an eBay account and now-defunct company from which Talbott sold dozens of collectibles featuring the signatures and likenesses of then-current Buckeye football players.
So how did Talbott acquire the access needed to enable such a “business“?
One way was to affiliate himself with a small Ohio-based online publication called This Week In Football. Talbott struck up that relationship in large part to (somehow) obtain photographer media credentials from Ohio State - despite having never shot as a professional photographer until 2009. Talbott actually stumbled upon the idea of posing as a pro photog after snapping some pics from the sidelines of 2008 Fiesta Bowl.
Starting with the 2009 Ohio State football season, armed with sideline access provided by Ohio State, Talbott accumulated his own product - which he reproduced for signings and sales - while also gaining the acccess needed to develop personal relationships with players like Pryor, DeVier Posey, Doug Worthington and Thaddeus Gibson.
It wasn’t long before Ohio State-licensed memorabilia dealers caught on to Talbott’s “photography” con thanks to his prior reputation as an unafraid purveyor of the sale of unlicensed OSU product - along with his alleged penchant for forging the signature of a head coach known for his flagpin affinity.
It was that steady stream of beefs from upstanding memorabilia dealers, not anyone at Ohio State compliance or within the athletic department, that caused Talbott to eventually be stripped of his prized, Ohio State sideline pass. Between that loss, his eBay account being outed and the 2011 ESPN reports, Talbott’s trafficking of Ohio State current player memorabilia, save a stealth eBay account or three, seems to have ground to a halt.
Sufficiently shunned at the ‘Shoe, there was only one thing left for a hopeless black-marketer like Talbott to do.
(All of Talbott’s shots from the Michigan-W. Michigan game on Sept. 3)
Thanks to his previous association with a small sports photo distribution company called Icon SMI - derived only from the legitimacy provided by OSU sideline access - Talbott was given sideline photographer media credentials by Michigan for its opening game of the season against Western Michigan. A staggering fact of which, if Talbott’s profile photo on his personal Facebook account is any indication, he’s quite proud.
As he’s paid by Icon SMI only for individual shots bought by media outlets, Talbott’s relationship with company has always been more about accesss to players than actual compensation. So it was gravy for him to be paid - albeit a modest sum - by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for this shot of Denard Robinson from the Sept. 3 game:
(Okay I added the inset)
Probably not a coincidence that Talbott’s prize-winning shot was of Denard Robinson, considering the seeming vast demand (and supply) of “Denard Robinson-signed” items for sale online. (Here’s another sweet 16 shot from the artist formerly know as “D. Jay Talbott” - coming to an eBay auction near you!)
So far there’s no obvious indication that Talbot transacted monetary gain from UM media access like he did Ohio State, but remember, our favorite fake photog isn’t a trader - he’s an investor!
Don’t believe me? Ask Thaddeus Gibson and Doug Worthington.
While still current Ohio State players, Gibson and Worthington were receiving a wide variety of NCAA-rule-violating benefits from Columbus-based NFL agent Brad Cicala as Talbott was employing his photography-fueled grift. So if Talbott wanted a Pryor-like arrangement with Gibson and Worthington, he’d have to go through an NFL agent.
Below is a shot from an ESPN’s Outside The Lines investigative piece in which Talbott was seen - coincidentally or not - outside the office complex where Cicala’s Columbus agency was located.
(More from ESPN’s exhaustive reporting on Talbott)
Cicala also currently reps journeyman NFL player and former Buckeye Roy Hall. It was Hall who helped Cicala connect the NFL agent with then-current Buckeye Worthington - who helped Cicala get in with Gibson, a former Cleveland-area high school star. Cicala later signed Gibson as an NFL client, a coup considering Gibson’s Ohio State position coach at the time was Luke Fickell - who has long been known for his close relationship with Cleveland-area NFL agent Neil Cornrich.
Helping Cicala land Worthington and Gibson was benefits like sweet seats to the Oct. 28, 2009, Jay-Z concert in Columbus, an actual recording studio in Gibson’s Columbus apartment and, of course, Cicala’s arrangement with Talbott.
But then again, who’s to say Worthington and Gibson wouldn’t have signed with Cicala anyway!
Just look at OSU booster Bobby DiGeronimo, who enjoyed the company of dozens of Buckeyes over the years at his annual charity event in Cleveland despite providing them no benefits of any kind.
Why, I still can’t believe Bobby D. threw away his 30-year relationship with Ohio State because, in a completely isolated case, he felt like paying three Ohio State football players $200 each at his 2011 charity event.
Three players who’d never started a game.
Did I mention it was a one-time deal?
Brooks can be reached on Twitter, Facebook and directly at email@example.com