Yet from what he knows about the people involved, Simmons cannot bring himself to believe all the sordid details emerging from a Sports Illustrated investigation of the football program at Oklahoma State.
Simmons, the head coach at Boulder, spent six seasons as Oklahoma State's head coach through the 2000 campaign, just before the alleged culture of illicit payments, drugs and sex took over the program, according Sports Illustrated. Although he was exonerated from blame in the SI report, Simmons has been explaining himself to the dozens who have called him over the past week to ask about the still-emerging situation.
"It's really hard for me to believe what they say has been going on," Simmons said. "During my time there, I dealt very closely with their director of academic affairs, Marilyn Middlebrook, and I know she runs an impeccable program. And I know Les Miles is kind of a coaching descendent of Bo Schembechler. I have a hard time believing he would be involved in something like that."
Simmons, an assistant at CU during the program's heyday in the late 1980's and early 90's under head coach Bill McCartney, spent six seasons as the leader of the Cowboys, compiling a record of 30-38.
Simmons was replaced by Miles, currently the head coach at LSU, and after four seasons Miles was replacedby former Oklahoma State quarterback Mike Gundy.
It was during Miles' tenure when SI alleges the plague of violations began. It also is when the OSU program grew into national prominence. The report details such transgressions as envelopes full of cash doled out to players after games, no-show jobs for which players were paid generously, drug use and a female support group that allegedly plied recruits with sex. These practices supposedly continued even more rampantly under Gundy. One former Oklahoma State player who is named repeatedly as a beneficiary of illicit payments was a prominent former Bronco, the late Darrent Williams.
In the report, SI points out that Simmons went out of his way to keep boosters at arms-length from his players. On Saturday he clarified that point, admitting boosters, for good or ill, play a key role in any major college football program.
"Without the support of alumni and boosters, it's hard to run a major program like that," Simmons said. "We had great support at Oklahoma State. But as far as boosters being in the locker room after games? No. I followed what coach Mac did. That time for celebration was just for the team, and then after with our families."
Not surprisingly, Simmons says he has fielded numerous calls this week seeking his two cents on the allegations. So will the attention eventually spur Simmons to read the report?
"No. What for?" Simmons said. "Right now my focus is seeing what's going on at the high school level. I'll let it all play out and see what happens, but it's hard for me to believe those guys would have anything to do with that."
Contact staff writer Pat Rooney