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Kaboom! The Cam Newton Story Blows Up Again (UPDATED)

This week had been relatively quiet on the Cam Newton investigation front.

Word came out that John Bond had met with the FBI.  Then word leaked that Kenny Rogers had met with the NCAA.  Nothing big there.  Nothing unexpected.

But yesterday afternoon, the floodgates opened and wave after wave of new allegations and rumors emerged.  Rogers’ attorney told the press that his client wasn’t pointing a finger at Mississippi State or Auburn, but at Cecil Newton.  TMZ.com ran with word that an Auburn booster by the name of Milton McGregor has been somehow connected to the story by the FBI agents questioning a person in their own Newton investigation.  And messageboard rumors have now hit the web on sports blogs.

Let’s catch you up on the basics:

* Mississippi State booster and former player Bill Bell told ESPN — and the NCAA — that he had actually received a text message from his former teammate Rogers detailing the payment plan that Cecil Newton wanted followed.  Bell is trying to retrieve the text message… as his cell phone has suffered water damage.  (Think Auburn fans buy that one?)  Bell also claims to have voice mail messages from Rogers regarding Newton’s recruitment.

* “I’ve never been involved in paying anything for a player,” Bell said.  “I’m not that big of a booster.”  (I don’t think that came out right because it makes it sound like MSU does have some boosters who are big enough to buy players.)  “I told Kenny that Coach Mullen was personally handling the recruitment of Cam Newton and no one was going to pay them any money.  Kenny said, ‘Well, how about $100,000?’”

* As for Rogers, Bell defended his old teammate.  “It was probably three phone calls or so before Kenny said, ‘They’re going to want money.’  It just seemed like he didn’t know what he was doing, like it was the first time he’d ever done something like that.  I really believe it was Mr. Newton asking Kenny to do it.  I don’t think it was Kenny’s idea.”

* In potentially bad news for MSU, Bell did talk to the elder Newton.  Boosters aren’t supposed to actively recruit for a school — though it happens and we all know it does.  Bell says that MSU officials told him to stop talking to Newton and Rogers.  He says he never spoke with the younger Newton.

* According to The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, MSU officials would not comment on Bell’s comments or ESPN’s latest story.

* Yesterday afternoon, messageboard fodder turned into actual news — sort of — when websites across the internet began running with McGregor/Bobby Lowder stories.  McGregor is a casino-owner in Alabama who gave $1 million for the construction of the new Auburn Arena in 2008.  He was recently arrested for allegedly attempting to buy votes.  Lowder has long been one of Auburn’s — and the SEC’s — biggest boosters.  Federal investigations into McGregor and Lowder’s failed Colonial Bank have reportedly — according to some messageboarders — turned up dirt relating to AU’s football program.

* The attorney for McGregor denied TMZ.com’s report that linked him to the Newton mess.  According to his attorney: “Contrary to postings on celebrity and sports blogs, Milton McGregor has never had any contact direct or indirect with Cam Newton, Cecil Newton — Cam’s father, Kenny Rogers, or anyone purporting to represent Cam Newton.  Mr.  McGregor has never been asked to provide money for any recruitment or compensation of any current or perspective student-athlete including Cam Newton at Auburn or any other school, and has never provided any type of compensation in that regard period no exceptions.  As a proud supporter of Auburn University Mr. McGregor wants it known that he does cheer loudly for Cam Newton and he thinks he is the best athlete in college football.”  That press release reads as though it was written by a kid fresh out of law school.  It likely doesn’t help McGregor’s image one iota.

* The Birmingham News reports that to date, no one has said that Cam Newton has been involved in any shady dealings.  Well, not exactly.  Last week, ESPN.com’s Joe Schad reported that — according to a source — the quarterback phoned an MSU recruiter “to express regret that he wouldn’t be going to Mississippi State, stating that his father, Cecil, had chosen Auburn for him because ‘the money was too much.’” 

* At this point, that appears to be the key to the NCAA’s investigation.  Sources have said that Cecil Newton has admitted that he talked about shopping his son.  The same source claims Newton denied that his son had any knowledge of the plan.  If Newton did solicit cash from MSU boosters — and those boosters are certainly coming clean about that now — then an NCAA violation has occurred.  However, the NCAA could be lenient in the case if it believes Cam Newton was an innocent bystander.  If the NCAA can find an MSU “recruiter” to corroborate Schad’s source’s account and admit that the player did talk about “the money,” then the final nail in this saga could be driven home.  Again, that’s if the NCAA can find someone to corroborate.

* Earlier this week, NCAA officials went to the Alabama campus to speak with former MSU — and current Bama — graduate assistant Jody Wright.  Wright was at State during Newton’s recruitment and could possibly maybe be the person Cam Newton allegedly spoke to.

* Back to the Bell/payment angle of the story for a second.  Bell claims that he told NCAA investigators about Newton’s payment plan last week.  That information — and possibly Newton’s own sit-down session with the NCAA — might have led the NCAA to inform Auburn last Friday that there were potential eligibility issues regarding Newton.  Auburn chose to play Newton against Georgia anyway.

* The website SportsByBrooks.com believes Auburn’s decision to suit Newton up shows “that Auburn is betting that the NCAA thinks prominent Florida businessman Bell and Kenny Rogers is lying and WSB-TV, which last Friday reported that Cecil Newton ‘admitted having conversations with an ex-Mississippi State University player about the possibility of under-the-table money if Cam Newton signed to play football at Mississippi State,’ is wrong.”  Well, not necessarily.  Another interpretation might be what we wrote above… and will expand upon below:

1.  At this point, it appears that there are solid goods on Cecil Newton.  Everyone is now surrendering details about his payment plan to the NCAA, the FBI and the press.

2.  While an NCAA spokesperson has said that anyone acting on Cam Newton’s behalf in an illegal way — even without the player’s knowledge — would put his eligibility in question… it’s possible that the NCAA can show leniency if it believes the player was innocent.

3.  Auburn could be betting that the NCAA will not find any actual dirt on Cam Newton or anyone connected to AU.  At this point, what do they have to lose?  The school is all in.  So it’s possible they know/believe Cecil is guilty and are still banking on his son remaining eligible due to his own innocence.

FOR A LOOK AT WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN NEXT…


So what’s next?  What will happen?  What’s the gut feeling at MrSEC.com?  Below are a few views and answers — ALL are opinions:

* The SEC has been correct to allow the NCAA to handle this investigation.  If Mike Slive chose to jump in at this point, Auburn fans would scream that the league is out to get them and protect Alabama.  Let the outside parties handle it.

* If things seem piecemeal in all of this, it’s because the NCAA and FBI are both investigating this mess.  And it’s the FBI that’s likely leading the way.  Let’s face it, you or I could lie to NCAA investigators with no consequences.  We aren’t going to lie to the FBI.  In fact, once the FBI got involved, folks like Rogers and Bell immediately changed their tunes and started singing about their involvement with Cecil Newton.  The question is this: Where do the two investigations intersect?  If the FBI gets dirt that could benefit the NCAA, would it share said dirt?

* I would suggest folks not fall for messageboard ramblings hook, line and sinker.  There are some reports that Auburn’s dealings are so dirty that the school will be booted from the SEC.  Some postings claim that Slive himself is in hot water with the Feds for not giving up information on Auburn’s situation.  I’m not buying.  There are grains of truth that can be found on messageboards.  But to find those grains, you have to walk across a desert of inaccuracies and innuendoes.  At the end of the day, messageboarders are fans.  Their love or hate for Auburn impacts what they write.  And while one poster might be an honest Joe with a good source, another might be a whack job… or someone who just wants to smear a person, a conference or a school.

* Will Newton play in the Iron Bowl?  At this point, I believe so.  Much of what’s come out in the last 24 hours has been rumor.  If those rumors are eventually revealed as truth, then I believe the NCAA will put the kibosh on Cam Newton and Auburn’s season.  But I don’t know that we’re going to get from rumor to truth in the next eight days. 

* Will Auburn’s season be undone by all of this?  I’m afraid so.  There are reports that Cecil Newton has admitted his involvement in a pay-for-play plan.  That’s an NCAA violation.  There are parties now coming clean about their involvement in Newton’s plan.  That’s confirmation of an NCAA violation.  It looks as though Auburn — at the moment anyway — is simply praying that the NCAA will take it easy on Cam because to date he has not been directly connected to any wrongdoing.  In other words, they’re probably just hoping for leniency…at best.  And if the NCAA can find someone who’ll say Cam Newton spoke of his father’s plan, then the Tigers’ goose could be cooked.

* Are MSU boosters trying to tear down Auburn?  It’s possible, but unlikely.  If there was an MSU conspiracy to take down the Tigers, it would have likely been put into play earlier in the season.  Also, it seems that former State players like Bond and Bell are simply trying to protect their school.  Rogers appears to be protecting himself.  And Cecil Newton appears to be the target in all of this, not Auburn.  Also, if MSU backers were simply trying to smear Auburn, they’ve now been hit with some serious blowback.  Those boosters’ names are now in the open press for all to see and some have been interviewed by federal and state authorities.  I’m guessing they’re not happy about all that.

Stay tuned…

 


5 comments
admin
admin

Good point, rowdireptile. No authority figure would ever ask a question about hearsay.

Just ask John Bond and Bill Bell.

Again, thanks for reading.

John

rowdireptile
rowdireptile

You wrote a piece on how Meyer was denying that he was the one who leaked out the information about Cam's recruitment. I'm not talking about the academic records (yet). You then picked at what he said eluding that he didn't rule out certain things, yadda yadda. THEN you posted the academic cheating story about how it was a "smoking gun" that it came from Florida that some video guy told his brother about something he heard, excuse me, you used the term "football staff". Lets see... reporter hears same rumor a day earlier starts asking questions around campus or a student committee member tells someone and that gossip spreads etc. etc. etc. Speculating how a video staff member found this out isn't a Florida smoking gun. Message boards have a lot of here say. This guy lucked out on a guess, WOW!!! He's batting 1 for 1000.

Point is, you make judgments based off your "facts" that are nothing more than people playing telephone. Remember that game? One person tells another tells another and at the end it's all messed up. I won't state my nature of employment but lets just say government and legal in the same phrase and leave it at that. No prosecutor or agent is going to care about Mr. DeLaet's story. Why? Real simple there smart guy. "I heard it through the grapevine, it was a rumor on campus" Case Closed. No self respecting FBI agent, local prosecutor, or cop for that matter is going to go on a wild goose chase about Mr. Newton's academic records. Records... He cheated in class, that means the possible sources are the 40-100 students, the TA's, the professor, anyone on the academic board, every school that recruited him after Florida and Blinn, anyone who has dealings with recruiting on those staffs. So we have a pool of... what? A couple thousand people. Stick to just reposting stories of actual "writers". TMZ or Perez Hilton might want to hire you though... BAHA!

admin
admin

rowdireptile,

You might want to work on your reading comprehension skills.

The "smoking gun" showed that someone in Florida's football office knew that Cam Newton's academic records had been leaked to Thayer Evans of FoxSports.com. That's a totally different story from the one you just commented on. The story you're commenting on deals with the recruitment of Cam Newton to MSU and Auburn.

In our "smoking gun" piece, we did not accuse any UF coaches of leaking information. We simply stated that the chain leading to Eric DeLaet showed that someone in the UF football complex knew about the academic fraud story. We also wrote that it's highly unlikely that Mr. DeLaet is the original leaker. But he apparently did know of the story before it came out.

Know this, if -- after the NCAA and FBI get done with the Newton recruitment investigation -- the Justice Department decides to look into how Newton's federally protected academic records were leaked, then Mr. DeLaet and several others on the UF campus can expect to get some phone calls. The Feds will want to know what they knew about Evans' story, when they knew it and how they knew it. And how they might have contributed to it.

Your comments on this story prove only that: A) You did not read the stories carefully, B) You can't comprehend what your read, or C) You're a Florida fan who will look for reasons to be offended at every turn... even when there is no reason to be offended. And you have no problem mixing and matching facts to fit your needs.

That's not just a Florida thing, either, before you nonsensically accuse me of being somehow anti-Gator. There are plenty of SEC fans so blinded by their love for their school that they can't accept facts when they're placed before them.

As always, thanks for reading.

Oh, and if it's proven that Mr. DeLaet had no knowledge of the Evans story before it came out, THEN he'll get an apology. But for now, the smoking gun still applies. Someone in the UF football offices knew that Newton's academic records had been leaked.

John

rowdireptile
rowdireptile

I thought the "smoking gun" showed that Florida's staff was the ones to blame John? What happened? Ya see this in the real smoking gun moron. I look forward to your apology to Gator Nation and the Florida Coaching staff for alluding to that Florida was behind the leaks of all of this. It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong so as Roy D Mercer says "How big an ole boy are ya" ?

benzadawgfan
benzadawgfan

I hope the NCAA gets to the bottom of this quickly, and finds that at least Cam is innocent of any wrongdoing. I do feel my Bulldogs would have beaten Auburn without Cam, but even if he were paid, it doesn't change the fact that we lost the game. He's no doubt the beat player in college football, and he's fun to watch. (as long as it isn't your team's defense he's shredding)

I hope his father didn't do anyhing wrong either. I am also a pastor's son, and while I realize they are human, they should hold themselves to a higher standard. Everybody makes mistakes, but this is one that he would have done plenty of planning for, and knew ahead of time he was putting himself in a position where he may be caught, and would either have to come clean, or be willing to lie to cover himself probably on national

If the NCAA found something, I wish they'd just make a backroom deal. Don't let him win the Heisman, don't let them play in the national championship game, and he goes pro next year. This could be a huge black eye for the SEC, and college football in general. Make it go away, please!

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  1. [...] The Newton story has blown up again, writes John Pennington of Mr. SEC. [...]

  2. [...] The Newton story has blown up again, writes John Pennington of Mr. SEC. [...]

  3. [...] John Pennington has a thorough update on the latest that’s being said/written about Newton. (MrSEC) [...]



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