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…

Ex-Auburn Players Claim Systematic Pay-To-Play

HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel premieres an hour-long special on the business and ethics of college sports on Wednesday. The first airing is at 10p ET on HBO.

Auburn football player Troy Reddick appears in HBO Real Sports Episode

(Spoiler alert!)

I have obtained an advance copy of the show and have transcribed excerpts of a portion of the Andrea Kremer-hosted “Pay to Play” segment of the show below.

The segment contains explosive claims from former Auburn players Chaz Ramsey, Troy Reddick, Stanley McClover and Raven Gray.

  • On McClover’s recruitment: 

Kremer voiceover: “McClover said it wasn’t until he attended an all-star camp at Louisiana State University that he realized how the game is played. A game of money and influence.

McClover: “Somebody came to me, I don’t even know this person and he was like, ‘we would love for you to come to LSU and he gave me a handshake and it had five hundred dollars in there. … that’s called a money handshake … I grabbed it and I’m like, ‘wow,’ hell I thought ten dollars was a lot of money back then. Five hundred dollars for doing nothing but what I was blessed to do. I was happy.

Kremer to McClover: “What did you say to the guy when he hands you five hundred dollars?

McClover: “Thank you and I’m seriously thinking about coming to LSU.

Kremer voiceover: “But McClover says there were money handshakes from boosters at other football camps too. At Auburn for a couple hundred dollars and at Michigan State. All the schools denied any wrongdoing. And things really started heating up a few months later when he went to Ohio State for an official visit where schools get a chance for one weekend to host prospective athletes. McClover says there were money handshakes from alumni there too. About a thousand dollars. And something else to entice him.

McClover: “They send girls my way. I partied. When I got there I met up with a couple guys from the team. We went to a party and they asked me to pick any girl I wanted.

Kremer: “Did she offer sexual services?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…