OPINION: Former coach Joe DeForest a big problem for OSU after Sports Illustrated investigation

On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated released the first investigative piece in a five-part series on Oklahoma State Football. The article claims eight former OSU players admitted to accepting cash from either boosters or OSU coaches, and 29 former players have been identified as having accepted money.

RELATED: SI releases part 1 of OSU investigation (http://bit.ly/16hyj9N)

A couple initial thoughts on the article:

-- The reporting is impressive. I know most of the players quoted left Stillwater disgruntled, in one way or another, but SI did an incredibly thorough job corroborating what was said. In 10 months 64 players were interviewed; the work, as a whole, cannot be discounted.

-- Joe DeForest will be OSU's biggest problem going forward.

Boosters paying players after games or overpaying players for "jobs" on a ranch or in construction should never be condoned. I know, I know... "it goes on everywhere," as so many have said on Twitter already. That still doesn't make it something we should dismiss. Nevertheless, I'm confident the NCAA won't concern itself greatly with that aspect of the investigation. 

RELATED: OSU reacts to Sports Illustrated article (http://bit.ly/17Q5Aay)

The NCAA will concern itself with DeForest (his current employer, West Virginia, is doing an investigation of its own as well). Alleged cash payments straight from a coach? That kind of accusation doesn't come around every day. And it's not like DeForest was on staff for just a couple of years and then got out of town. This guy was in Stillwater for more than a decade. Mike Gundy made him his associate head coach.

Gundy frequently praised DeForest as both a special teams coach and as the team's recruiting coordinator. All that talent OSU recruited in the Houston area over the past decade? Almost all DeForest's doing. This guy was a mainstay on that coaching staff and a pretty big part of the success the Cowboys have experienced in the last decade.

RELATED: OSU allegations trouble football fans (http://bit.ly/17kTvek)

DeForest denied all wrongdoing to SI. I doubt there's a paper trail, so this might amount to nothing more than "he said, they said." But I'm going to guess the NCAA's investigation will look longer and harder at DeForest (more transgressions are expected to be revealed in the coming articles) than anywhere else.

After the first installment of this SI series, Gundy's former "right hand man," is now his greatest cause for concern.

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