Even More McFarland

The scandalous recruitment of stud defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland took yet another odd twist today, as the Oklahoma commit said parts of a school paper quoted in a New York Times article detailing his experience had been “spiced up.”

According to the eye-popping NYT article by Thayer Evans, McFarland had written that he attended an orgy of drugs, booze and “women romancing each other” for Texas fans following the Longhorns win over OU in October. In an interview with Rivals.com today, the standout from Lufkin, Tex., claimed Evans had obtained the paper without McFarland’s knowledge and that parts of the essay had been exaggerated.
Recruiting scandal aside, this makes for a very odd case of journalism whodunit. It seems mind-boggling that NYT would publish such controversial excerpts from a high school student’s paper without his permission, let alone without first verifying the information in some way. McFarland’s comments to Rivals also indicate that the “majority” of the paper was accurate, but declines to say what was embellished. Does that mean the hosts charged for the drugs? Was same-sex action actually not going down? The whole thing is just so perplexing.
Could it be that McFarland is having a little buyer’s remorse after seeing the reaction that the story has generated? After all, if true, the events detailed in his essay could put him in hot water with the NCAA. Note that McFarland and his mother are not disputing any other part of the article. 
Or, did Evans get a little over-stimulated by the debauchery laid out in McFarland’s paper, causing him to forgo the very basics of Journalism 101? It seems so obvious that this story would stir up a Texas-sized hornets nest. How could any reporter blunder that badly? Likewise, where were the NYT editors in all of this?
I wish I could tell you who to believe in this whole sordid affair. As is the case with most salacious recruiting gossip, Homerism advises his readers that they’re best off trusting no one.

5 Responses to “Even More McFarland”

  1. Colby Says:

    I’m a horn fan who reads your blog, because you have some intelligent things to say, but, having worked in the mainstream media myself….
    ‘I think the visceral reaction from UT faithful about the quality of journalism reflected in the article is relatively unfounded’
    As your blog’s title states so clearly, you are justified to write whatever you want about your favorite football team, but I think you’ve failed to put yourself in your bitter rival’s shoes here. A school carries only as much gravitas as its reputation allows it to, and Evans’ article calls into question the very value of what most of us students paid for in time and treasure: our degrees.
    Now as a journalist, you have to ask the question: Would I believe anything else McFarland had written in that paper? – Would I take his explanation that the rest of the paper was ‘basically true’ after he admitted that parts were ‘spiced up’? No, of course you wouldn’t, you’d dig and dig and dig, and you’d bury him!
    I’m just sayin…

  2. Mike Says:

    I’m also a horns fan, and I’m biased in their favor of course. But look at the writer of the article for the NY Times… he ONLY writes about Oklahoma, yet he’s not biased? He’s the same guy who followed Darrel Scott. He only reported on ONE side of the story. There’s no verification of any of the “facts” that are presented in the article. Nothing. I’d believe him more if he wasn’t just a OU shill.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I already posted this to an older entry but if you read the article it becomes very clear that Thayer only had a single source for the entire article and that source was MacFarland’s mother, who at various times has had a visceral hate for both UT (refused to allow coaches into her house) and OU (told Coach Shipp that she would never set foot in Norman again in her life.) Whatever her reasons for suddenly hating UT its obvious that she’s extremely biased at the moment and, if the author were an actual journalist, he should have sought to corroborate any of the things she said. In reality he sought no corroboration from anyone including Jarmarkus who claimed he had never been interviewed by Thayer.

    This article is essentially MacFarland’s mother’s opinion piece ghost-written by Thayer.

    I also find it interesting that the gist of the article is that USC was JM’s first choice and UT his second choice, but his mother essentially browbeat him into going to OU. Why? It isn’t revealed, beyond vague handwaving about “individual workouts” as if they didn’t occur at all four of the schools involved, and the hilarious claim that JM would receive a better education at OU, despite the fact that both UT and USC are much more highly ranked academically than OU.

    Even the claim that he’d have a better shot at the NFL falls flat when you consider that only two OU DTs in the Stoops era have been drafted by the NFL whereas five UT DTs have been drafted in the same time period.

  4. AK Says:

    Colby et al,

    Thanks for the kind words and feedback.

    A couple observations:

    1. This should be a case study in journalism ethics. At this point, Thayer Evans needs to come clean about how he obtained his information. Likewise, NYT should be absolutely transparent in revealing the fact-checking process behind this article. The NYT editors need to explain themselves as well.

    I may be naive, but I tend to trust NYT to do the proper due diligence. Obviously, I think that’s in question now. Much of the information contained in the article is presented as having been confirmed, but that assumption seems dubious at this point.

    I’m not going to shed any tears for UT in all of this, but shoddy journalism deserves to be called out.

    2. To clarify: I can see where you are coming from on the education issue, but I think you may be mischaracterizing what was said. Keep in mind that the article said McFarland and his family were won over by the impression that the OU staff “stressed” academics. That says more about OU’s approach to recruiting McFarland than it does about comparing the quality of education available at one school versus the other. In that sense, it sounds like it wouldn’t matter if the Harvard staff was pitching McFarland if they didn’t focus on educational opportunities. The article seems to imply that the Texas staff dropped the ball there. Who knows. (By the way, whatever my distaste for the Longhorns and Texas in general may be, UT is an excellent school.)

    3. Everything written about McFarland from the Texas side of things seems to be nothing but complimentary, so that’s something to keep in mind in all of this. Where is the maliciousness on his part supposed to be coming from?

    Before we crucify McFarland for whatever he said in this English paper, let’s take a step back. If the kid wrote this for school and Evans used it without his knowledge, I’m not going to string McFarland up for embellishing the details of this party. After all, it’s not like he intended for it to be for public consumption. (His instructor may have a different take, though.)

    Also, keep in mind that most of the article’s allegations of illegal inducements from Texas supporters are made by McFarland’s mother, and she is standing by them. Whatever her son said or wrote in a class paper months ago would seem to be irrelevant when analyzing what she’s saying.

    4. I’ve heard a rumor that NYT is working on a follow-up article, for what it’s worth.

    5. Evans is the one who has put all this out there in the public domain. He, along with his editors, are the ones who should be checked out here. Given McFarland’s claims about his information-gathering, Evans and NYT owe it to the public to explain how this story came together. That’s the bottom line.

    6. My lips are not so firmly planted upon the ass of Bob Stoops that I will defend him or OU unfailingly. We’re all familiar with the program’s shady history. However, before we go around assuming the worst about everyone involved with this, we should keep in mind that none of us were privy to what has transpired between all parties. Conversely, I don’t worship at the altar of Saints Mack and Muschamp, so I’m not going to assuming the best about how the Texas staff has acted through this entire ordeal.

    The long and short is that there is so much contradiction floating around about this kid that we have no real reason to believe anyone at this point. Without better explanation from all parties involved, here’s all that we really know: Jamarkus McFarland is an Oklahoma commitment. At this point, it seems pointless to go round and round about all the side issues that have sprung up without further explanation.

    Thanks again for the feedback, and please keep reading and commenting.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I think those people who are attacking JM himself have very little understanding of the situation. Evans’s article very clearly is entirely reflective of JM’s mother’s opinions and her semi-sane attacks on the UT coaching staff vary between laughable (the idea that she didn’t have Brown’s personal contact info) and delusional (the claim that Buck Burnette was only dismissed when the FBI became involved – in fact he was dismissed as soon as the coaching staff found out about it, and the FBI never became involved). Its pretty clear that if it were up to Ms. Adams, UT would have been eliminated quite some time ago.

    Whether Ms. Adams’s reasons for turning on UT are actually based on her son’s welfare (Although UT’s last two DT’s both graduated with 4.0 GPAs in pre-med) or due to some shady inducements, its clear that she at some point decided that JM was going to OU whether he wanted to or not – as evidenced by her strong-arming him out of his decision to commit to USC after his official visit there.

    JM is a quality kid and I expect he’ll have a great career aside from his once-yearly humiliations in Dallas. I just hope for his sake he doesn’t underperform the hype because we’ve all seen how Stoops protects his performers (Peterson, Loadholt) while throwing his underperformers (Bomar, Quinn) under the bus.

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