Last week GamecockCentral.com, Rivals' South Carolina site, put up an article on their blog saying that Urban Meyer used religion to gain the commitment of defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.
Coaches talk about their religion all the time with players and recruits, but this was different. Much different.
The blog post said Floyd's coaches relayed what Meyer told Floyd in a phone conversation a few days before the U.S. Army All-American game.
“Sharrif was really confused and put a call into Coach Meyer. When they spoke Coach Meyer told him that he had a ‘dream’ the night before, and that Coach Meyer saw himself on the sideline coaching Sharrif. Told him that is was a "message from God that I should come back and coach, as I guess if it’s my time to die, I'd rather die on the sidelines coaching you than anywhere else in the world.
"Sharrif talked to us the next day and said Ohio State is great and all, but Coach Meyer said he would DIE for me. That's pretty intense. From that day on Sharrif mainly kept to himself. But that was the turning point in my eyes."
That's both surprising and not so surprising. It's surprising that Meyer would be that manipulative regarding a recruit's religion. It's not so surprising that God, like many old Jews, has retired and is living in Florida.
When I first read the post, I wanted to know more so I looked for the original article that had the quotes from the coaches. But there was no link to it in the post and no mention from where the quotes came. So I used the google on the internets, but every hit just kept bringing up the same quotes without any original source. And that set off my bullshit detector.
Turns out the original source for the quotes was a post on an Ohio State site's message board. I have no dog in this fight, but I'm loath to believe anything those couch-burning jackanapes write. The original article, which was posted on ShaggyBevo, did not have any attribution for the quotes. After the ensuing shitstorm, the author of the blog post inserted the following: According to a quote that first appeared on a Ohio State site and has made the rounds on the internet, here’s what the coaches said:
That's called covering your ass. But you should never take for gospel what is written on a message board (except ours, of course). And you should certainly never use direct quotes from someone without verifying their accuracy. Or something.
Three days after the original article appeared, the Florida Rivals site wrote an article that refuted the story. Floyd said it never happened, and Floyd's head coach, Ron Cohen, told a recruiting analyst for Rivals that the story was unfounded.
But the damage has already been done. If a story isn't immediately corrected on the internets, it takes on a life of its own. You'll notice that the ShaggyBevo thread doesn't ever link to the corrected article posted on the Florida site so if you only read that thread (or many of the other threads out there on this) you'll probably think Urban Meyer did say those things to Floyd. It just reinforces what you already believe.
As Mark Twain said, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes."
At least we think he said that.