Why the name "The Dangling Ear?"

From The Tuscaloosa News........

"Tuscaloosa’s Hargrove Van de Graaff was one tough hombre on the football field.

In a 1913 game against Tennessee, he nearly lost an ear.

It “had a real nasty cut and was dangling from his head, bleeding badly,” Tennessee tackle Bull Bayer recalls in Winston Groom’s book, “The Crimson Tide.” “He grabbed his ear and tried to yank it from his head. His teammates stopped him and his managers bandaged him … He wanted to tear off his own ear so he could keep playing.”

Van de Graaff hung on to his ear and Alabama hung on to a
6-0 lead to beat the Vols.

Hargrove’s brother W.T. “Bully” Van de Graaff was an even bigger star for the Tide. A fabulously gifted athlete, he became Alabama’s first All-American."

Learn more about the great University of Alabama family, the Van De Graafs, @ http://www.jemisonmansion.com/

Passion, Committment to Excellence, and a Visceral Hatred of Tennessee - all missions of this blog!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is Auburn a Sacred Cow in NCAA Eyes? Part III

After Pat Dye was forced to resign in 1992, following the fallout of the Eric Ramsey scandal, Auburn turned to the son of one of college football's biggest names to steer the program through probation.

Or, perhaps I should ammend that - Trustee Bobby Lowder turned to the son of an emerging legend, and hired Terry Bowden from Samford University in Birmingham.

The following is an excerpt from an interview Bowden gave central Alabama publisher Paul Davis at his home..................

" In 1991 when I was at Samford, Wayne Hall called to ask about a job for Katherine Lowder at Samford. Bobby Lowder then called and he said he would contribute money to Samford equal to Katherine’s salary as long as we didn’t tell her where the money came from. Katherine and my wife became good friends.

Then the Eric Ramsey thing hit. One day Katherine sticks her head in my office door and says, “Dye is leaving and my dad wants you to be coach at Auburn .” Dye resigned a week later. Lowder made him resign because Lowder was sure Auburn was going to get the death penalty if he didn’t resign."

We can take several things from this - first that Pat Dye would not have left on his home, despite the exposed corruption and coming sanctions. Next, that Bobby Lowder was in control here behind the curtain, and finally that Lowder seemingly never met a situation that he could not control by throwing money at it.

Even in getting a job for his daughter.

So Lowder hand-picked his replacement for Dye, yet there was still an interview process to go through, a selection process, and other candidates such as Mack Brown to beat out. Nevertheless, Lowder, as usual, had a plan.

From an Auburn favorite, the New York Times..................

"With the Auburn football job open in December 1992, Mike Lude, then the university’s athletic director, interviewed a stellar group of candidates: North Carolina’s Mack Brown, Southern California’s Larry Smith and West Virginia’s Don Nehlen.

But Lude and the hiring committee were most impressed by a long-shot candidate, Terry Bowden, the little-known coach at Samford in Birmingham, Ala.

Years later, Lude found out why Bowden, who ultimately won the job, was so prepared for the interview. Bowden told him that the Auburn superbooster Bobby Lowder, who had sat in on other candidates’ interviews, had prepped Bowden in his hotel room the night before his meeting with Auburn officials."

Bobby Lowder stays out of the spotlight, but he is ruthless, cunning, and a meticulous planner.

So why Terry Bowden?? Well, it is apparent that Bowden, Lowder, and Wayne Hall all had some degree of relationship already established. It is my contention that Bowden was Gene Chizik part one - someone Lowder was familiar with, who he felt he could work with or around (Remember that Lowder procured a job for his daughter by essentially buying off Terry) - and that Terry would be an easy fire after coaching through the sanction years.

But then the wheels came off a bit. First, though Auburn was heavily sanctioned for the Ramsey investigation, they were the last through the door before the NCAA began to hand down heavy scholarship sanction, which crippled programs. So despite the Bowl and TV bans, Auburn was able to field a full team - which Terry Bowden promptly coached to 20 straight wins.

But of more importance, Bowden proved to not be as easily manipulated as Lowder envisioned.

From the USA Today...................

"AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Former Auburn coach Terry Bowden said on tape two years ago that boosters were funneling thousands of dollars to football players when he became coach in 1993, a time when the Tigers already were on NCAA probation.
"They were paying players cash, $12,000, $15,000 to sign," Bowden said on a recording reviewed by The Associated Press. "All I was told to do was shake hands and say, 'Thank you. I appreciate how much you love Auburn.'"

Bowden did not make clear whether he reported the payment scheme to the NCAA, but said on the tape: "When I came here, I put an end to it."

But Bowden did not put an immediate end to it.

In the taped interview from his Ranch, Bowden details how Lowder made sure he had his henchmen kept in place, and also how the depth and manner of payments - even naming several Board of Trustee members as providing cash for players...............................

"I was the last to interview, then the committee immediately took a vote that day. Somebody was opposed to every candidate until they voted on me last. That’s how I got the job. Lowder said he wanted me to hire Wayne Hall as an assistant.

Tommy (Bowden, Terry’s brother and a member of the Pat Dye staff) told me that if you wanted anything done you gotta go through Hall. My second day on the job (athletic director Mike) Lude said “you can’t hire Hall.” But then I understand Lowder called and said that if I couldn’t hire Hall we will find a new president.

So I hired Wayne Hall. One week on the job, Hall came in with a ledger of players who have been paid, who paid the money, how much money and when it was paid. He said we’ve still got 9-12 players that we’re paying $600 per month.

We paid then $12,000-$15,000 to sign. We sign about four every year that we pay.(Former assistant coach Rodney) Garner paid most of the players. He was paid when he was a player at Auburn.(Stacey) Danley is the assistant compliance guy, and he was paid when he was a player. I broke the rules. I said pay it off, and it will never happen again.

Hall said “OK, but you will change your mind.” Katherine came to Auburn as my assistant, but she worked for Colonial. We were real close. I told Lowder “We have cash all over.” Lowder said “I told Wayne not to collect more than we had to have to pay the players.” Wayne had a safe in his house wherehe kept the money. Within two weeks of me being hired they told me about paying Jelks.

Nothing was done without Lowder knowing. I will go under oath and say that Lowder looked me in the eyes and said, “I didn’t want Wayne to collect more money than we needed to pay the players.” I was hiding a dirty secret. We were paying (star running back and current Washington Redskin) Steve Davis and his cousin the fullback.

It took about two years to get it all cleaned up. Most the guys we were paying weren’t any good and weren’t helping us win games. Steve Davis was the exception.

Here is how it works, fifty to 60 men give $5,000 per year. Wayne would collect it. These are all good men. They didn’t ask questions. The coach tells them that everybody cheats so we have to. My first two years we went 11-0 and 9-0-1.

My third year, (assistants Jimbo) Fisher and (Rick) Trickett said, “Hall is on the phone a lot with Lowder.” I thought he was going back to cheating. I told Hall that when the season was over he needed to move on.

I told Garner that I was taking him off coaching for a year. That was the beginning of the end for me. Jimmy Rane was in on all of this. He is high maintenance. Three current Board of Trustees members gave cash to players – Rane, Spina and McWhorter."

So, Bowden has made a stand, but essentially sealed his fate as a short-timer at Auburn. He has made the critical mistake of defying the AubFather Lowder, and as recruiting began to lag a bit, and losses began to mount, it was clear in 1998 the end was near.

"When I got here Lowder said don’t talk to Muse, he’s weak and his wife is a n—-r lover. Lowder told me John Denson was trying to kill him. The last week I was coach: Monday – The Huntsville Tmes runs a story that says an undisclosed sources says that Bowden has lost the confidence of the Board of Trustees and he must win four of the last five games to keep his job.

I lied to my staff and told them that I had talked to Lowder, the story was not true and everything was OK. I was trying to keep up morale. Tuesday – (Defensive coordinator Bill) Oliver brings a hidden tape recorder into our coaches meeting. I believe this was because Lowder wanted to have proof that I told a lie about talking to him the day before. Wednesday – I had a 7 a.m. meeting with Housel.

He asked if I had seen the article in the Huntsville Times. He said he had talked to Lowder, and Lowder wanted me to know that he was the undisclosed source.

He said he also wants you to know that he doesn’t care if you win five of your next six, you’re out. David said the only way I would keep my job was if Fob James wins (the governor’s race). Thursday – I brought in my lawyer, Ricky Davis, and said to David that I wanted to resign.

He called Lowder while we were in his office and we worked out a settlement. Muse didn’t even know. They were using Oliver. They were never going to hire him. When I resigned it shocked them."

Thus ends the tenure of Terry Bowden. In the end, as it always seems to in Auburn, Corruption, Lies, Cheating, and Lowder win the day.

But there are some important things to be taken from this saga..........................

First - Terry Bowden is not blameless here. He was not on board with the system, but did allow it to continue. He may seem like a knight on a white charger in this culture of corruption, but that perception is largely created in comparison to all the other players mired in this cesspool.

Also, note that after the interview, Bowden refused to comment further, so as to protect almost 1.5 million in cash, property, and vehicles, per his buyout agreement. So, in a sense, Lowder was right - Bowden could be bought.

Secondly - the alleged involvement of Trustee members in paying players. Not "Rogue Boosters" or alums - but Auburn employees, coaches, and Board Members!! This is not a "Lack of INstitutional Control", this is more akin to a "Complete and Corrupt Institutional Control".

Third - the lack of control by both the President and Athletics Director at Auburn.

Fourth - The ruthlessness and careful planning of Bobby Lowder. It should also be noted that after the Auburn Student Newspaper printed articles critical of Lowder and selfish control of Auburn University, the two sides went to battle.

Predictably, Lowder prevailed, and the Auburn School of Journalism was absorbed into the School of Communications.

Finally, and the most damning, and troubling..................

The fact that despite severe NCAA sanctions and admonishment, the Auburn cheating machine was quite prepared to never miss a beat. Lowder made sure guys like Wayne Hall and and Rodney Garner were still in place to make things happen as Lowder wished. Dye had been removed, Bowden brought in, sanctions levied - the cast had changed somewhat, but the cheating was to continue unabated.

And not just cheating, but a systematic, planned process of rules breaking. As detailed by Bowden, Ramsey, and NCAA findings, there was a system of handing out signing bonuses, monthly payments, and even performance bonuses.

With many of the same sordid characters still in place in Lee County, does anyone really honestly think that it is still not being done, but on a larger and more high tech scale??

How is Auburn University still in the Education business, much less the football business??

Links to the NY Times, USA Today, and Bowden interview articles referenced above................


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