Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Trent Richardson's Yukon May Not Actually Be As Pimp As SportsByBrooks Would Have You Believe

While it hasn't acquired the full-on attention and airtime of the major mainstream media (ESPN, CBS Sports, etc.), and only as much of the airtime of local sportstalk as the hosts will allow (Dunaway, Finebaum, etc.) - anyone with better than a dial-up connection has followed the drama of the T-Town Menswear timeline supplied by Clay Travis' and Brooks Melchior's

Much to the chagrin and frustration of Alabama fans - and delight of their rivals - these sites have hammered away at this story displaying (in what seems like every few days) new deleted-account Facebook pictures of Tom Al-Betar (owner of T-Town Menswear) with current and former Alabama players. All-in-the while insinuating that Alabama football players are receiving improper benefits from others, and that they should not be eligible now (Trent Richardson), and former players were ineligible during their competitive days (Julio Jones).

The most recent accusation of implied improper benefits are the multiple high-priced vehicles owned by Alabama tailback Trent Richardson. Pieced together from traffic violation reports involving Trent Richardson, Brooks has got all the info right there - the case details and the ticket and complaint. After displaying these documents on his site, here's Brooks:
Considering that the NCAA has access to Richardson’s bank records - like all student-athletes under the auspices of the intercollegiate governing body - it wouldn’t take long for the NCAA to find out exactly how the Alabama star running back acquired two vehicles with a combined, base sticker price of over $60,000 in the span of 10 months.
Clay Travis chimed in on Twitter and apparently received a barrage of feedback from Alabama fans on how/why Trent could own the vehicles. And, in his style, Clay thought he'd prod the fan base and share Bama's best excuses. From Mr. Travis...
The Crimson Tide star was going 85 in a 70 and the officer noted that he blamed the "large rims" on his vehicle for the speeding violation. What was the vehicle? A 2011 GMC Yukon which retails for in the neighborhood of $40,000 even without the added expense of new rims. Raise your hand if it makes sense that an "unemployed" athlete at Alabama with two children, no job, and a non-wealthy family could afford a brand new SUV. Put your hands down Alabama fans. Trent Richardson could be flying in his own private jet and you'd talk about how it's perfectly reasonable for him to avoid traffic this way.

For the rest of us Richardson driving a brand new SUV raises an awful lot of questions.

Especially when you consider that most of his money was already going to suit payments.
Here's the problem - I'm not so sure that's actually the right Traffic Ticket and Complaint. Or actually, it may be the right one, just that the information on it has been SELECTIVELY displayed. Possibly to make the story more interesting...

I've done a little research and have acquired the actual traffic ticket and complaint from the Yukon incident. Let's compare!
As you can see from Brooks' image, he displays the Statute and Described sections - but nothing else from the actual ticket. Above this, in what looks to come from the case details, under vehicle information, the vehicle is described as a 2011 GMC Yukon. He even highlights this for us with a nice big black box.

But there's a problem... What does the rest of that actual traffic ticket and complaint say?
Actual traffic ticket and complaint, Case #2011 005435
To make it easy on us all, bullet points:

1) First, please note the case number on this traffic ticket and complaint and compare with Brooks' image above. They are the same.
2) The Statute and Described section displayed by Brooks is identical to the one from the actual traffic ticket and complaint.
3) In Brooks' case detail, the vehicle is described as a 2011 GMC Yukon, and he has reported it no other way. The actual traffic ticket and complaint clearly shows the vehicle to be a 2007 GMC Yukon.

What does this mean?

Well, it mostly means that Brooks has selectively chosen what facts to display and what not to. I only say this because he obviously has access/has a copy of the actual traffic ticket and complaint - he cropped out a portion of it and displayed it on his website. That's a bit misleading.

Now, I guess it's possible that the case detail or traffic ticket and complaint would have a mistake. But to run with one and make no mention of the other is, well, dishonest. At least I think. It sure makes me think a third or fourth time on the validity of the information that SBB provides - or has been providing - on his site. It could have at least been easily fact-checked. It is public record, after all. (Clay Travis is a licensed attorney - he probably should be able to easily get a copy of the traffic ticket and complaint.)

This news also undermines the angle of the story that SBB (and OKTC) have been on for over 8 weeks now. That improper benefits are running wild in Tuscaloosa. Maybe they are, I don't know. But going from a $40,000+ brand new 2011 Yukon to a 2007 Yukon are two different things. What do we know about this Yukon? Did Trent get it new or used? Has it been totaled? How many miles are on it? On and on it could go. A quick Google search lists off 2007 Yukons under $20,000. Compare that with the Nissan Altima he used to have? Roughly $20,000.

My opinion is that - either intentionally or not - the leaders at SBB & OTKC have taken an imperfect (although at times, much more entertaining) route with these stories. It seems they've decided upon their conclusion - that there was something fishy going on - and all reporting from their sites, radio hits, and Twitter will support that conclusion and nothing else. I wrote about this in early August:
There's just too many unknowns and jumped-to conclusions/insinuations. Like in the case of Julio Jones' suits, we are asked by OKTC whether or not Julio can afford all those suits. Well, I don't know if Julio can or can't. Did he buy them or rent them? And, as many Bama fans have pointed out, it may not be that many suits - just different shirt/jacket/pants combos.

For me, when the question line is extended further and further, and you have to continue to 'leap' to answers - with no question concretely answered - you aren't getting closer to the truth. You're getting closer to the answer you want to hear.
Maybe this ticket or case detail was doctored by SBB. Or maybe it was doctored before it got to SBB. I don't know and don't want to accuse him of that. But what I don't mind doing is asking Brooks and Clay Travis and the rest - just be a little more careful with what you're putting out there. Because if you do too much of it, you become the News of the World of college sports. Unless that's what you want to be.

And of course, if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, you can do so: @harry_long. I'd also appreciate it if you 'liked' the Facebook page of A Total Waste of Blog. You can do that at the top right of this page, or you can do it here. And you see all those buttons under the title of this post? That's how you share this thing. Get to it.