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Heath Evans Defends Auburn University

You may have heard about the HBO report saying Auburn football players were getting paid in violation of NCAA rules. Saints FB and former Auburn Tiger Heath Evans calls the report bogus:

"Everybody wants their 15 minutes of fame," Evans said this morning on the Dan Patrick Show, referring to the former players who talked to HBO. "Obviously their football fame has passed them up, probably because of their play, hence the fact that they probably didn’t get paid to play because they weren’t good enough to get paid to play. At the end of the day, it’s ridiculous as best."

"There was no one that did more there for Auburn than I did during my three years there. Never once did I get a $100 handshake or anything else that came out of these guys’ mouths," Evans said. "People can say that’s because you were white, blue-collar from Palm Beach, Florida, and you didn’t need money but that still doesn’t hold water. I know the guys who recruited them — they were the same guys who recruited me."

It's understandable for a former college player to defend his alma mater when accusations like this come up, but I wonder if he may be regretting what he said next.

ProFootballTalk writer Michael David Smith thinks he might have crossed a line here:

Frankly, Evans came across like he was protesting too much. He may be telling the truth when he says that he never heard of any type of improper benefits going to Auburn players, but he has no basis for saying he knows the players who say they were paid are lying.

Furthermore, Evans went off the rails when asked about accusations that Auburn steered players into easy majors where their class schedules won’t interfere with football practice. Asked about that, Evans suggested that coaches were doing that only to help "stupid" players graduate.

"Maybe the kid was stupid and they knew he signed up for something he’d never pass," Evans said. "They took the graduation rate very, very seriously."

Evans said that as if it’s a good thing for coaches to pressure players to take classes they’ll pass in order to boost the graduation rate. In reality, as the New York Times reported in 2006, Auburn football players were graduating at a high rate largely because they were given credit for independent study classes that involved little or no work. Auburn has since canceled the independent study program for football players, and its football graduation rate has plummeted as a result.

So as Evans assails the credibility of his fellow former Auburn players, his own comments seem to lack credibility. But Evans will continue to insist that the HBO report was fueled by lies.

"A liar is a liar," Evans said. "I have no doubt about that whatsoever."

I don't agree with everything Smith says about this, but I agree that the "stupid kid" comment only reflects poorly on Evans and diminishes his credibility.