Michigan's Robinson edges A&M's Swope for video game cover -- in a recount
Mar 13, 2013 (Austin American-Statesman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Oh, the political intrigue. Who knew a contest amongst two of college football's proudest fan bases would generate such scandal
On Tuesday -- after an official recount involving Facebook -- EA Sports announced that Michigan's Denard Robinson would appear on the cover of its 2014 NCAA Football video game. Robinson beat out Texas A&M's Ryan Swope, the pride of Westlake High School, in the final round of online voting.
But late last week -- as Swope erased a 17,000-vote deficit to Robinson -- the gaming web site pastapadre.com announced there were voting irregularities. Perhaps there was a bit too much of a 12th Man presence, the site pondered, although it took a politically-correct approach.
"Realistically these tactics have probably been utilized by both sides," the site said, "but regardless it wrecks any credibility of the final result."
EA Sports had collected votes on its Facebook page. The rules allowed only one vote per Facebook account. Yet it was discovered that a poster on the popular fan site texags.com had found a way to circumvent the rules.
A user on that site posted: "I figured out that you can create fan pages and vote from the newly created fan page. This is a lot quicker than creating fake profiles. Do it Ags! Lets win this!"
The message thread later was deleted.
Last Friday, hours before the voting deadline, EA Sports announced that "we are aware of the voting irregularities around the NCAA Football 14 Cover Vote. We are in touch with the players and schools involved in the final round voting, and in the spirit of integrity and fair play, are in agreement that only votes from legitimate accounts will be counted in the cover vote."
When asked to comment on Tuesday, an EA Sports spokeswoman instead referred back to that statement from Friday.
Still, there's a case to be made that Swope's campaign didn't need the extra help, that his poll numbers were trending in the final days of balloting.
Dude Perfect, the trick-shot artists with deep maroon-and-white ties, featured Swope in one of their online videos posted to YouTube; by Tuesday, the video showing Swope make a variety of trick catches (including an egg dropped from the fourth level of Kyle Field) had generated 1.8 million views.
Gov. Rick Perry, the former Aggie Yell Leader, tweeted "Go Swope" with the link to the voting to his 170,000 followers.
And Johnny Manziel, the Heisman-Trophy winning Aggie quarterback, also made a political pitch to his 321,000 Twitter followers, writing "Everyone go vote for my brother and one of my best friends @RSwope25 to be on the cover of NCAA football!"
Even a Longhorn helped to get out the Swope vote. Former Texas kicker Justin Tucker, who had the famous, game-winning kick against A&M in 2011, urged his 39,000 Twitter followers to cast their vote for his former Westlake teammate. Tucker, now with the Baltimore Ravens, tweeted: "Even though he's an Aggie, y'all gotta vote for my boy Swope haha!"
Michigan fans cleverly solicited help from fan bases that love to hate A&M. There were pleas for Robinson on sites devoted to the Texas Longhorns and Baylor Bears.
Michigan fans acknowledged their own vote manipulation. One posted on a Wolverines fan site: "Our cheaters are better than TAMU's cheaters!"
Swope, who is preparing for next month's NFL draft, issued a statement via Twitter, taking the high road.
"Want to thank everyone for all the support during the NCAA Cover vote process. It was a blessing and an honor to represent Texas A&M #GigEm."
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