All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and I still can’t believe I just saw what I saw last night. Seriously, this whole Laremy Tunsil situation is incredible. So much so that last night’s Periscope and Facebook live Outkick Show is already approaching legendary status. If you guys didn’t watch — or crazily enough — still aren’t watching the show or at least listening to it, you need to start.

Just last night we called Hugh Freeze, Matt Leinart, Cooper Manning, and my buddies Lance Taylor and Chris Vernon from local radio. There is no telling what is going to happen from one moment to the next.

Just watch:

And let’s think about what we saw last night: Laremy Tunsil’s Twitter account is hacked and he has a video of him smoking weed released 13 minutes before the draft starts. And it isn’t just Tunsil smoking weed, it’s Tunsil smoking weed in a gasmask in front of the Confederate flag. NFL teams panic — because evidently smoking weed is worse than physical violence or rape allegations — and Tunsil plummets down the draft board. When he’s finally drafted his Instagram account is hacked and text messages purporting to show Tunsil being paid by an assistant Ole Miss athletic director and coach are leaked. Tunsil then ADMITS THAT OLE MISS COACHES PAID HIM IN FRONT OF ALL THE NFL MEDIA. Upon which time an Ole Miss grad employed by Jimmy Sexton’s agency runs forward and ushers him off the stage to prevent him from answering any more questions. Sexton, of course, represents Laremy Tunsil, but he also represents Hugh Freeze. So the woman is acting to protect both.

THIS ALL HAPPENED IN ONE NIGHT.

The SEC is the best reality show out there.

So much so that I’m not even sure how you’d rank the absurdity. Any one of these things happening alone would be a massive story. Think about it:

1. Player gets Twitter hacked and a video of him smoking weed in a gas mask comes out 15 minutes before the draft. (At least Tunsil’s black, can you imagine if a white dude was smoking weed in a gas mask in front of the Confederate flag. I’m not sure the dude would even be draftable given how PC bro the reaction would be. “It’s not just that he’s smoking weed, it’s that he’s doing it in front of the Confederate flag! He’s racist!”)

2. Player gets Instagram hacked and alleged text messages go up that show that he was paid by coaches and administrators of his school.

3. Player admits that a school paid him in an open press conference in front of a huge media gathering.

I mean, number two and three are certainly the most impactful, but that smoking weed video was incredible. Any one of these would be a huge story beyond belief. And to have all three happen while the NFL Draft is going on? I’m still in disbelief. If “Ballers” put this on an episode everyone would say it was too unrealistic.

Just think about the emotional roller coaster that Ole Miss fans were on. They went from feeling awful for Tunsil, “Who would hack this poor guy?” to wanting him executed Ned Stark style — “HE SAID WHAT?!” within a few minutes.

Okay, on to the mailbag.

Eric writes:

“First of all, I think we should all be thanking Tunsil (and whoever hates him so much) for making last night interesting. Also, kudos to you for a great show.

My question…where does an investigation go from here? The evidence on display last night was pretty damning, but what does the NCAA actually need in order to hand down punishments? Also, how much of it will hinge on Tunsil cooperating with an investigation? I imagine Sexton is going to want to keep him on a tight leash.”

Good question. The Ole Miss employees have to cooperate with the NCAA unless they decide to resign. Just like Alabama’s assistant did yesterday. Once you resign — and potentially get an under the table payout to keep quiet — you aren’t obligated to cooperate with the NCAA investigation. That’s because the NCAA only has power to compel you to answer questions if you’re employed by an NCAA school.

So I think the most likely outcome is the Ole Miss coach and administrator mentioned in the text messages end up resigning.

The thing I’d be most nervous about if I’m Ole Miss is that the text messages hint at a clear system of payouts. That sounds like it’s really well organized and many people were aware of it going on. How many other top players could be impacted? Can the NCAA get those phones and find more text message evidence?

If so, Ole Miss could get hammered beyond belief.

Tunsil will never talk to the NCAA — and he can’t be made to talk — so he’s actually the least impacted, crazily, by this whole circus.

Quinn writes:

“In the world as it is today where everything has become digital, and assuming the leaked messages from Tunsil are legitimate, why in God’s name would he not speak to his uh…provider…in person? Why converse about payments over texts/DMs/whatever medium that appeared to be, and not go to the guy’s office and request this stuff face to face? I guess they don’t teach you how not to be a moron at the Harvard of the South.”

The thing is, you don’t even have to talk face to face, you just have to talk on the phone. Clearly, face to face is preferred, but all you really have to do is not text or DM or email about it.

DON’T WRITE ANYTHING.

Then you always have plausible deniability.

Again, the craziest thing about these texts was the coach saying he didn’t have access to cash if the amounts were changing. Which suggests Ole Miss has a set payout program in place where players are receiving pre-agreed to amounts of cash at a set time frame. At least Ole Miss is smart enough to pay in cash, which is impossible to trace.

But the coach and the assistant athletic director having a limited budget of cash is fantastic. And how about Ole Miss potentially having an associated AD as a bagman.

So incredible.

Final thought here: why do you let someone record you smoking weed in a gasmask? Ever? Especially if you’re remotely famous? It’s just a series of dumb moves on Tunsil’s part.

This just reinforces to me that most college coaches and administrators aren’t that smart. It’s not that hard to cheat without getting caught.

Lew writes:

“Shouldn’t Tunsil be given some extra credit for such a creative cannabis transferral device?! Both effective and stylish! I think people are looking at this the wrong way, what a creative young man!”

I definitely think the gas mask cost him a few extra spots in the draft. If he’d just been smoking weed regularly, the video wouldn’t have been as salacious.

Toss in the Confederate flag in the back — which id’d the video as relatively recent — and the timing and it was the perfect viral storm.

Whoever leaked this video did it at the exactly perfect time, which suggests some level of intelligence and sophistication when it comes to social media and the way that the media would respond to a viral story.

I also love the reports that several NFL teams took Tunsil off their draft board over this video. Because they weren’t sure what else might be out there. The dude was smoking weed in a gas mask, do you really think the next video is going to be him masterminding the ISIS attacks in Europe?

Tommy writes:

“Any chance Nick Saban posted the video to deflect from Alabama finally being exposed for cheating in recruiting?”

I wouldn’t put anything past Darth Saban, but it wasn’t just that this first video leaked, it’s that no one thought to shut down Tunsil’s other accounts once the initial video went up. Remember, there was over two hours between when the Twitter account got hacked and when the Instagram post went up. So why didn’t someone at Sexton’s agency think to shut down the Instagram account — or at least change the password — too?

If it had just been the smoking weed video, it’s still a huge story, but most of the fall out would have been minimal. Tunsil falls to 13, but the story is mostly over by today.

As is, it was the Instagram account that really turned this into a story with long-range significance.

Again, the leaking is masterful. The video draws everyone’s attention, and then the Instagram account is the haymaker. Now, the leaker couldn’t have known that Tunsil would be dumb enough — or honest enough — to admit that Ole Miss coaches paid him in the press conference, but the double leaks were perfectly crafted.

If you release the Instagram account first, no one really cares. But the video is impossible to ignore. Videos play perfectly on social media, especially videos that are salacious in nature.

Mario writes:

“Not really a question, but more of a theory on Tunsil. People are talking about how he got hacked or someone stole his password. I’m guessing someone got his phone and the passwords were just saved in the apps, right? And to take it further, would it really be a surprise if a future draft pick got a brand new phone, but his old phone (with text messages, videos, photos, etc.) was laying around somewhere AND had those apps on there with the passwords already saved in the device? Not sure we’re talking hacking here, I think it’s more like someone just taking the device.”

If this theory were true then who found his phone, Bane?

That’s the worst luck ever.

This series of acts was downright diabolical and designed to inflict the most damage possible on Tunsil. I think what’s most likely is it was someone who knows Tunsil incredibly well and was smart enough to know exactly how the media would react to these stories. This was a planned out cyber attack. The stepfather, who filed a lawsuit yesterday, is the most likely culprit. (To be fair, the stepfather denied involvement to TMZ. But somehow TMZ knew how to get in touch with the stepfather. And, what do you expect him to say? “Yep, I did it.”)

The stepfather, or someone close to him, could also make sense because Tunsil’s still young, which means people close to him may have had access to the passwords used to set up the accounts.

Let me explain.

My kids are young, but if we let them set up any social media accounts before they get to college there is a 100% chance that I will know their passwords as a condition of allowing them to set up the accounts. My best guess is that someone close to Tunsil knew the passwords potentially from when they were set up and used them to post from his account.

That makes me think it was someone close to Tunsil who did this. (And is it really hacking if you already know the password in advance? I don’t think this person “broke” into Tunsil’s account, I think they already had the passwords).

Again, the most remarkable thing about this to me is that Tunsil left his Instagram account passwords unchanged for several hours even after his Twitter account blew up. If his people were willing to shut down his entire Twitter profile, which they did, why not shut down everything at that point?

Also, the only reason most athletes have social media profiles is to get ass, right? Why does no one talk about the risk they undertake in order to get ass easier than they already get ass? It’s not like most athletes are out here redefining their brands on social media or they need Twitter and Instagram accounts for work, they just want to meet hot chicks easier. So, like most men, they’re risking everything on a regular basis for ease of ass access.

Zack writes:

“Ok. So Laremy Tunsil obviously got hacked by his stepfather – likely to garner leverage (stupidly) in the ongoing legal proceedings. So now Tunsil presumably has some legal recourse.

What’s his legal play here?

Should he just settle his case to get it over with or can he fight to get it thrown out?”

If it was the stepfather, this is dumb because it actually means Tunsil has less money than he otherwise would have if you hadn’t hacked him. This cost him millions. Also, is there any way you settle a case with a motherfucker who did this to you? If I’m Tunsil I’m going scorched earth to fight this lawsuit now. No way I’m ever settling.

(To be fair, if your goal was just to cost Tunsil money, this was probably the single best way to do that.)

As for what Tunsil can do from a legal perspective that depends on whether it’s possible to prove who posted this information. I have no idea whether Twitter and Instagram are able to pinpoint locations well enough to figure this out. Do they register unique IP’s for every post that takes place on a social media account? If the government demanded this info as part of an investigation into this hacking, would they be able to pinpoint who did it? I’m not smart enough to know the answer to this question. (But if the person was really diabolical, the play would be to use a public computer in a library or something like that, right? Then it would be nearly impossible to ever prove who did it.)

Second, does Tunsil want to file any lawsuits over loss of income or have the authorities pursue an investigation here? Let’s be honest, what are the odds that the people who posted this actually have significant assets? Incredibly low, right? So Tunsil lost millions in the draft, but the people he’d sue aren’t likely to be multi-millionaires with recoverable assets. Moreover, if he files a lawsuit then there’s a good chance he has to give a deposition about these Ole Miss payments. Those Ole Miss payment statements would then be under oath.

Tunsil would have claims for a violation of privacy tort or intentional infliction of emotional distress. And he’d have damages. But, again, he’d have to go under oath about all of these issues and he’d be unlikely to recover any substantial damages. Futhermore, that’s assuming we can even track down and prove who did this. Organic CBD Nugs has helped people deal with stress.

My best guess is Tunsil will just want this story to go away.

Richard writes:

“Dearest Gay Muslim,

On the Outkick show last night, you were asking if there’s ever been a case where a player has come out like Laremy Tunsil and admit he took money from a booster or otherwise. The only person I can think of that comes remotely close is the case of Sean Stopperich, an offensive lineman from the Pittsburgh area that was recruited and signed by SMU. He received over $11,000 in cash, his father was given a job, and the family was put up in a rent-free apartment with a $300 monthly stipend in the Dallas area. The only reason the NCAA found out was because Stopperich was injured during his time at SMU, and the money stopped coming in, and so the family went scorched-earth on SMU. This resulted in the three-year probation, scholarship limits, and bowl bans, as this was the offense that was prior to the death penalty punishment.”

Great info, thanks.

Okay, kids, have outstanding weekends.

And try not to let anyone video you smoking weed in a gas mask in front of the Confederate flag.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.