Give Marvin Austin credit. After potentially costing UNC a breakout season and bringing the wrath of the NCAA to Chapel Hill for the first time in 50 years, then causing more consternation among Tar Heel fans by wearing a Carolina helmet in his East-West Shrine Game appearance, he appears to at least be saying the right things.
In an interview with J.P. Giglio of the News & Observer, Austin refused to provide many details of his potentially illicit activities, other than to confirm there were two trips to Miami and that Greg Little was with him both times and Robert Quinn with him once. According to Giglio, Austin also stated he did not give receipts for Miami trips to Alabama star Marcel Dareus, as Dareus claimed.
Austin also declared his intent to not release any pertinent details to the media, but said he would answer questions in interviews by NFL teams and expects some of those details to be leaked. He also refuted a persistent rumor that a tell-all interview with ESPN or HBO's "Real Sports" awaits.
But Austin did seem to express genuine regret at the mess in Chapel Hill caused in part by his actions. "I messed up a great situation," Austin said. "It was my fault." And on a number of occasions this week, Austin has reiterated his love for UNC and the Tar Heel program.
Another interesting point raised by Giglio is that this particular "all-star" game is actually filled with "middling college talent", and it is unlikely there is another potential first-round draft pick in the bunch. It is fairly evident that this has been orchestrated as a way to get Austin back on the field and into some football shape before the NFL Combine next month, as well as to get him in front of some NFL front office people.
But perhaps the most intriguing point of the article is Austin's version of the now infamous "Club Liv" tweet that may have been the starting point of this whole mess:
Finally, in the third interview in two days, he's asked again about the Miami trips. He relents and shares one detail.
"I do not get the tenant rate," Austin said without a hint of humor or a smile. "I don't even drink."
Austin's tweet, from May 29 - "I live In club LIV so I get the tenant rate ... bottles comin like its a giveaway" - was intended as an homage to Rick Ross, an oversized hip-hop boss. Instead, the lyric on his Twitter account raised one more question.
For the record, Austin said he was at the airport, not the club at South Beach's famous Fountainebleau Hotel, when he posted the lyric to his account. Austin won't say if he was ever at Club LIV.
"I thought it was a really clever line," Austin said.
"It got me in so much ..." his voice tapers off as he searches for the word "... trouble." [emphasis added]
Of course any objective analysis shows that Austin was not at the club at the time of the tweet, but that never stopped ABCers and ill-informed sports media from reporting that Austin tweeted from the club. But whether or not he was there is irrelevant. The tweet opened the door to a series of events where both he and UNC are indelibly stained.
Marvin Austin was supposed to be the face of the new era of football at UNC, but instead became the face of an ugly scandal. Nevertheless, he has seemed to say and do the right things as it relates to the all-star game, so maybe this will have a positive ending for him, just as UNC fans hope the entire sordid mess has a positive ending for the program.