Imagine that you’re the starting quarterback for a top NCAA football program. You’re right in the middle of the National Championship race…and then you lose 51-14 to a rival, at home. And somehow, that’s not even the worst thing that happens to you over the weekend.
That’s what happened to Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who was the subject of some rather outlandish rumors recently. While his team was busy losing badly to ACC rival Florida State, the Internet was buzzing with a rumor that Boyd had run up $80,000 in gambling debts – something that would be a violation of the NCAA’s strict regulation of college athletes, to say the least.
Rumors and Nothing More?
There was only one problem, though: as far as anyone can tell, the rumors were completely invented by one person on Twitter, someone who had absolutely no evidence to back up that assertion.
“I have no idea where that came from,” Boyd said. “It was kind of shocking to me as well. That on top of the loss made for a rough little weekend.”
According to the report – which came from a man going by the credibility-inspiring moniker of “Incarcerated Bob” – Boyd built up most of that debt betting on the NFL. But Boyd pointed out that his rather limited cable package on campus only allowed him to see a couple of games on Sundays, and that he rarely gets a chance to even watch NFL games, let alone be betting on them.
Boyd’s coaches trust him as well, and have said that they have no reason to believe he’d rack up those kinds of debts.
“He just shook his head and said, ‘No way, coach’,” said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, referring to the moment when he asked Boyd about the rumor. “I have no reason not to believe Tajh Boyd. He’s never lied to me before. His character and integrity from my view are impeccable, so I’m going to take his word over some website that I’ve never heard of, ever.”
Sports Talk Radio Was Instigator
That website is “Incarcerated Bob’s Sports Wrap” (IBN Sports Wrap), and is reportedly run by the same person who called in under that name to a New York sports talk radio show. The site is mostly devoted to making gambling picks and posting news and views on a number of different sports.
One of the biggest questions raised by those following this story is why the media decided to run with the report to begin with (we’re just following up on the reports of the report, so this story doesn’t count). Originally, nobody picked up the story, as there was no sourcing for the rumor: it was the product of a single tweet by one Twitter account associated with that website. However, a reporter covering the Clemson football team brought it up to Swinney, which suddenly turned an Internet rumor into a national story.
It’s not the first time that one of the site’s related Twitter accounts has been associated with a high-profile gambling rumor. Back in June, a number of news articles popped up announcing that boxing champion Floyd Mayweather had placed a huge $6 million bet on the Miami Heat to win the final game of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. That rumor came from the Twitter handle @Pregame_Steam, which is operated by IBN Sports Wrap; Mayweather, who is a serious high-stakes sports bettor, ultimately denied that he made the bet.