Deer Antlers and MacGuffins

Questions surround one current Crimson Tide player - Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

MacGuffins are used to hunt tigers in the Scottish Highlands. Similarly, holographic chips and 'negatively-charged' water are used to help collegiate athletes recover from injury. The similarity? Neither functions as advertised.

Hitchcock invented the Macguffin as a deus ex machina to elaborate on motives he could not logically explain. Thusly, we find ourselves in a narrative with no cut-and-dry happy ending.

Sports Illustrated's David Epstein pens a piece in this week's issue on the Fultondale-based supplement company SWATS, known predominately for its banned deer antler spray, and locally as the guys who used to buy time on Pawwllll selling "chips." The piece opens with a sales pitch in a hotel room allegedly attended by Alabama players Quinton Dial, Adrian Hubbard, Alex Watkins, and various family members just days prior to the BCSCG @ LSU in the Superdome.

Here's what we know at this juncture: PED's aren't the concern in this instance. NCAA football players are tested regularly, even if reports claim that sprays don't contain enough IGF-1 to result in a positive test. Alabama recently sent its third Cease & Desist letter. SWATS lost a $5.4 million lawsuit in 2011, and has mostly stayed out the spotlight, presumably to recoup losses and rebuild the clientele. The company currently operates out of a gym, owned by admitted ex-steroid user and pseudoscience guru Mitch Ross, along with his faithful a sidekick Chris Keys (charismatic, but hands on your wallet). Ivan Drago's scientists these are not. However, they do boast a bold client list, albeit somewhat unsubstantiated by recent press. While the chips and water are not banned substances, receiving impermissible benefits under NCAA bylaw 12.3.1.2 happens to be frowned upon:

NCAA Bylaw 12.3.1.2 (Benefits from Prospective Agents) states that an individual

shall be ineligible per Bylaw 12.3.1 if he or she (or his or her relatives or friends) accepts

transportation or other benefits from:

a. Any person who represents any individual in the marketing of his or her athletics

ability. The receipt of such expenses constitutes compensation based on athletics

skill and is an extra benefit not available to the student body in general;

via (.)

The video, recorded by Keys on a pen camera, has not been made public, but Andrew Gribble seemed to have a different summation when he said said that none of the athletes received gifts after the meeting. His stance contradicted the SI account, but his article has since been edited to exclude said paragraph.

In the University's official statement, Deborah Lane, Associate VP of University Relations wrote

"UA has been aware of this situation for some time, and we have monitored this company for several years," Lane wrote. "They have twice ignored cease and desist letters sent by our compliance office. We have maintained consistent education of our student-athletes regarding the substances in question and will continue to do so."

If you're counting, UACD sent SWATS more Cease & Desist letters than they did T-Town Menswear and has been far more proactive on this issue, monitoring the company extensively. It also has a recently impeccable record of determining long-layover compliance questions. Look no further than Andre Smith, The Fishing Trip, Jerrell Harris's laptop, Dareus's trip to Miami, and the aforementioned T-Town Menswear.


I do trust UACD. They're overworked and highly underpaid, but they do a helluva job (My Gump is showing). However, I still have questions. Did said players or their family members accept impermissible benefits in that sales meeting? Was the Compliance Department aware of this meeting? The Cecil Rule doesn't apply, as the alleged players were in the room.

This isn't Langham's napkin. In this age, players, especially Saban's, are regularly lectured by highly-paid consultants on the intricacies of the highly-antiquated NCAA bylaws. That players were warned in advance of said company, yet chose to continue into legally forbidden endeavors is beyond my comprehension. YOU"RE IN NEW ORLEANS. GO TO A DAMN JAZZ BAR, EAT SOME CAJUN CUISINE, LET THE LOYOLA WOMEN FALL IN YOUR LAP. It was an odd story 2 years ago when Keys was spamming journalists on twitter with his cell phone number shortly after IGF-1 was declared a banned substance, and it continues to be somewhat mind-boggling.

At the risk of being flogged, "hope for the best."

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