Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said he thinks the administration responded well to two reports alleging misdeeds in the football program dating from the 2010 national championship season, while players say they've tried to ignore negative attention.
Malzahn, the offensive coordinator in 2010, referred to athletic director Jay Jacobs' statements disputing the reports' accuracy.
“The administration took care of it, and as a head coach I feel good about the way they handled it,” he said after Saturday's scrimmage.
Asked if anybody had been distracted by the reports, he responded: “Nobody.”
ESPN The Magazine and roopstigo.com had separate reports this week alleging the coverup of synthetic marijuana use to changing a player's grade to improper payments. Auburn has said it is investigating former players' claims of grade-changing and cash offers reported by roopstigo.com but doesn't think they have merit.
Auburn has disputed ESPN's report on players' use of a drug that was included as a banned substance in the school's drug policy starting in August 2011, saying that only three athletes have since tested postiive for synthetic marijuana. All three failed tests came that month, according to assistant athletic director Cassie Arner.
Malzahn was mentioned in the ESPN report by the father of Dakota Mosley, among four players dismissed after they were arrested on armed robbery charges. Harrison Mosley told ESPN The Magazine that Malzahn and then-coach Gene Chizik were part of a meeting on March 9, 2011, following the freshman tight end's seventh consecutive positive test for synthetic marijuana.
The report also said Malzahn set up a counseling session but Dakota Mosley skipped it.
Mosley is scheduled for trial on June 10, while teammate Mike McNeil's trial begins Monday. Antonio Goodwin was sentenced to 15 years last June, while Shaun Kitchens is also awaiting trial.
Cornerback Joshua Holsey said the coaches haven't addressed the reports with the team.
“You really just don't pay any attention to it,” Holsey said. “You try to stay off the Instagrams and the Twitters and the ESPNs. You just try to block it out as much as you possibly can. It's really hard because there's so much of it, but you just try to do your best to not worry about it and focus on what you've got in front of you.”
The Tigers are trying to rebound from a 3-9 season that led to the firing of coach Gene Chizik. They played part of the 2010 season with an NCAA investigation into Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton's recruiting – Auburn and Newton were cleared – dominating the headlines.
Holsey said he doesn't think the perception of the program nationally should be negative.
“I think we have a great group of kids here,” he said. “I know the coaches did exactly what they needed to do. From my perspective, we're all good guys here and all the coaches that we've got here, it's like a new day. We can't even worry about what happened in the past. We've got to move on to the next step and just worry about what we've got going on here now.”
Players asked about the allegations Saturday said they haven't been a prominent topic on the team.
“That's not even being talked about, it hasn't even been talked about in the locker room,” defensive end Nosa Egaue said.
Added defensive back Jonathan Mincy: “Those are distractions, and that's something I don't really try to feed into.”
Mincy said Malzahn has emphasized the importance of character to players.
“That's something this team has really taken heed to,” he said.