SI Story: DeForest Not Ready To Comment

The title of Sports Illustrated's five-part series about Oklahoma State football is "The Dirty Game," wording that is intented to convince readers that Sports Illustrated and SI.com are about to take you inside the dirty business of college football. The series targets Oklahoma State's decade-plus building of a successful football program.

Through interviews of more than 60 former players, which by our survey consists of players dismissed or transferred out of the program, and interviews with current and former football staffers, Sports Illustrated executive editor Jon Wertheim claims they were more about "venturing inside the factory and seeing how the sausage is made" in their investigation.

That is his analogy of the type of path taken by his investigative staff that includes vagabond reporter and avowed OSU hater Thayer Evans. Evans's history of attacks on the Cowboys program dates back in his career and includes a litany of stories, blogs, and other opinion pieces.

The fact that Sports Illustrated is now promoting him as a co-writer on the project along with George Dohrmann damages the integrity of the piece about as much as the inclusion of a Pulitzer Prize winner might help it.

While Oklahoma State football staffers, athletic department officials and OSU administrators are waiting to read the stories, about 1,120 miles away in Morgantown, W.V., former OSU associate head coach Joe DeForest is also waiting to see what is in the first of five parts in the series.

"I will wait until the series is out there and then I will release a statement," said DeForest earlier this evening after we spoke for the second time.

DeForest is now the special teams coach at West Virginia. He acknowledged that he had already talked with an investigator at West Virginia as athletic director Oliver Luck opened up an investigation at WVU when OSU released on Saturday the news that Sports Illustrated was planning the series of stories.

"It's been a really painful experience," said DeForest. "I feel better and I think that I'm going to be okay and I think Oklahoma State will be okay. I've had lots of calls of support from former players. Markelle Martin and Jacob Lacey have called and there have been a lot. I'll get through this."

DeForest said he was first contacted by Dohrmann by phone, and that the reporter read through accusations that they were made about DeForest's involvement at OSU including the paying of players. He said he was asked if he wanted to respond.

DeForest said he crafted an email response with his attorney and sent it to Dohrmann.

"I did pay players," said DeForest. "It wasn't for performance or bounties or anything like that. I had several players do work at my house, and I paid them for the work that they did."

The former Oklahoma State coach said he had nothing to hide. He said he will be looking at the stories to see if different versions of various events are included, such as the recruiting trip former Texas A&M running back Michael Goodson made to Stillwater.

I had heard before talking to DeForest that Sports Illustrated might have a different version of Goodson being sent home after making an inappropriate suggestion to one of Oklahoma State's Orange Pride members.

It's really a situation where you have no idea of what things have been said by the former players interviewed, virtually all of which had a less than desirable ending in their relationship with Oklahoma State football.

Tulsa World reporter Jimmie Tramel was able to get a question in with former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik, who dealt with a negative media microscope at Auburn. Tramel asked the former coach how he might handle the attention OSU is about to get.

"I think that, No. 1, I have been through this whole thing. As a matter of fact, I have been through it recently," said Chizik, whose Auburn team overcame media scrutiny of Cam Newton-related issues to win the 2010 national championship.

"There were a lot of things that were said that were absolutely long on accusation and short on facts. And I will say, to everybody out there, that before you jump the gun to decide that Oklahoma State or Mike Gundy or Les Miles or whoever is guilty, you better sit back and be very careful with that because there are a lot of accusations that get thrown around that quite frankly are garbage.

"Now it will be real interesting to see exactly who they have interviewed because typically what they do is they want to go get somebody from the program that for whatever reason was kicked off the team or somebody that was in trouble who obviously may want to stir the pot.

"Again, I don't know all of the ifs, ands and buts, but my experience with this and truth versus perception, there is a huge gap in there," concluded Chizik.

Oklahoma State and the Cowboys community is about to find out how large that gap is with Sports Illustrated. There may be a lot of truth to it, although having been an insider to the program for a long period of time I would be shocked and have to consider myself blind and deaf.

There may be very little truth, and then there may be a bunch of former players that were dismissed from the program that, as Richetti Jones said, are now living lives that really aren't what they hoped for and they just want to blame somebody. That could be the most undeniable truth of "The Dirty Game."

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