How Rumors Get Started: An Example

I was a little alarmed when I saw a headline pass into my RSS feed that said "Report: Stoops Finalizing Contract With Florida". It turns out that this was on Yahoo Sports' website, by way of NationalFootballPost.com, which lends it a bit more credibility. However, if you read the article it says:

But as of late Saturday morning, GatorCountry.com was reporting that Stoops is finalizing a contract to succeed Urban Meyer as the face of the Florida program.

According to the report, Stoops is negotiating with athletic director Jeremy Foley and the Gators administration, with former quarterback Kerwin Bell possibly becoming the team’s offensive coordinator.

It turns out that the link they provide in the article to this "report" from GatorCountry.com takes you to a message board called the "Swamp Gas Forums". You need a membership to check it out, but as far as I can tell this "report" was some guy bloviating on a message board. Why?

If you go to the actual GatorCountry.com homepage, it looks like a legit website. It even says "official ESPN affiliate" at the top. And yet, for such a HUGE STORY, there is no such headline on their home page. Hmm, I wonder why that is? 

Just to be thorough, I checked Alligator Army, the SBNation Florida blog and there was no such story on there either. And I checked out Soonerfans.com, a message board where people are likely to be far more panicky about a story like this. There actually is a 4-page thread about it but nobody seems to have any sort of evidence except this:

According to a florida booster Florida is offering stoops like 6 million a year to come to florida

Which, of course, is not really evidence at all. In an interesting note, some ambitious Gator fan had changed the Wikipedia page to read Bob Stoops' university as Florida, but now I see a prankster has changed it to the "University of Greenland":

Bobstoopsgreenland_medium

People really need to start sourcing their information. Saying "GatorCountry.com is reporting" is not the same as saying "some random dude named TebowIZmahHERO is reporting". Thanks to this, Sooner fans are going to have to put up with another round of coaching job rumors and innuendos. 

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