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Scarbinsky: Muschamp Proves He Means What He Says

Last week, we tossed praise in the direction of Florida football coach Will Muschamp for his decision to dismiss arguably the best player on his team — cornerback Janoris Jenkins — after his second marijuana-related arrest in recent weeks.  We stopped short, however, of hanging a “Mission Accomplished” banner.

It sounds like Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News is ready to go ahead and run one up the flagpole.

Muschamp didn’t wait for the legal system to run its course, even though Jenkins’ attorney has said his client will plead not guilty to the latest misdemeanor charge.

The coach didn’t close the curtain and leave the public in the dark by saying he would handle the situation internally, the way he did when Jenkins was first arrested on the new coach’s watch in January.

Muschamp didn’t decide that Jenkins should remain with the team for his own good because he needs the structure and the discipline that football provides.

Nor did he opt for the most obvious show of alleged force by suspending Jenkins for the first two games of next season against overmatched Florida Atlantic and UAB.

No.  Jenkins took a third strike, and he’s out.  Does anyone believe that (Urban) Meyer would’ve made the same call?

Uh, no.  Jenkins would still be on UF’s team had Meyer not departed and Muschamp not arrived.  But this one instance doesn’t mean the culture in Gainesville has forever changed.

Keep in mind, Muschamp is currently trying to set a tone and send a message to his players.  What better way to do that than to sacrifice a star player during his first honeymoon season? 

Also, Muschamp had the eyes of the nation upon him.  From this site to and beyond, writers were declaring that — following four recent Gator arrests — Muschamp would have to start backing up his talk of “the Florida Way” or else be viewed as just another coach who talks tough, but walks timidly.  In some ways, Muschamp had to act strongly in Jenkins’ case.

And finally, it’s much easier for coaches to dismiss the last guy’s recruits.  Let’s see how quick Muschamp is to pull the trigger when the arrested player is someone he recruited.  Someone whose house he went into.  Someone whose family he made promises to.  It’s just not as easy to jettison a player (and family) that you’ve come to know.

On the other hand, should Muschamp not boot the next person to cross the line in Gainesville, it doesn’t mean he’s suddenly gone soft on crime.  Each case is different.  Which is why we’re willing to salute Muschamp’s decision in the Jenkins’ case while still reserving judgement on the coach’s long-term impact on UF’s culture.

“Looks like it’s Muschamp’s way or the highway,” Scarbinsky writes. 

Yes.  For now it looks like it’s Muschamp’s way or the highway.  But as is the case with any coach, the body of evidence is what counts, not a lone piece.

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Newton Tapes Coming In Two Weeks? We’ll See.

Late last week, Huntsville, Alabama radio host Scott Moore went on a couple of radio stations to announce that he has heard tapes of Cecil Newton talking about the “bids” that had been made for his son.  Auburn was implicated.  Tennessee was implicated.  Cam Newton was said to be in the room during one conversation.

Of course, only Moore has heard the tapes.  Former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond and fellow MSU booster Bill Bell made the tapes but they haven’t released them.  Moore said on Friday that the tapes are “valuable.” 

The long string of teasing from Bond and the Moore media push prompted us to write:

It’s Time For Bond And Moore To Put Up Or Shut Up On The Newton Saga

Yesterday, Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News wrote nearly the exact same story on his blog:

It’s Past Time For John Bond And Bill Bell To Put Up Or Shut Up On Cam And Cecil Newton

Maybe Moore, Bond and Bell are paying attention because the word is spreading now that Moore will play the audio recordings on his new radio show in two weeks.  Now, what kind of guy would try to build up an audience for the release of potentially groundbreaking news?  Somebody trying to build up ratings in order to get his fledgling show into syndication (which Moore has admitted is a goal of his).  It’s called a stunt.  And this has all the makings of being just that.

Many Alabama fans are dancing in the streets — or at least on the messageboards — at the thought of the Newtons and Auburn and Tennessee going down.

But they need to be warned: Moore’s teases and delays and story changes  — one day he thinks Cam is implicated, the next he says Cam can be heard in the room… one day he says Tennessee offered $150,000, the next he says the Vols offered $200,000 — don’t give him a lot of credibility.  Ditto the fact that he’s launching a new show.

Bond and Bell don’t have a lot of credibility either right now.  Moore said they turned some of their tapes over to the NCAA.  Why not all of them?  And if the two are trying to get cash for their story, then they’re no more credible than someone selling an “I had an affair with…” story to The Star. 

Anyone expecting to tune into Moore’s show and find the smoking gun of evidence in the Newton case is likely to be very disappointed.  We’re not saying it’s not possible that new evidence exists.  And if the tapes are earth-shattering, then it’s about time they were released.  But taking everything into account, we wouldn’t trust this bunch as far as we could throw them.

Tapes in two weeks?  We won’t hold our breath.

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Report: NCAA Still Investigating Newton, But No Bombshells Are Expected

Never say never. 

When it comes to NCAA investigations, the most dangerous thing to do is to convince yourself that nothing will come of a probe into your favorite program.  As long as NCAA snoops are snooping, dirt can still be found.

That said, the fact that assistant coaches like Gus Malzahn and Jeff Grimes elected to stay at Auburn rather than jump ship and head for new jobs tells us that AU’s staff feels pretty certain that they did no wrong (or won’t get caught) in the Cam Newton affair. 

Also, for all the rumors and messageboard rambles linking Newton to Auburn boosters and slush funds via secret FBI recordings, well, no one with any credibility has drawn a line from A to B to C just yet.  All that smoke could be coming from rival fans’ smoke machines, rather than an actual fire on The Plains.

Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News reports today that his sources say the NCAA is still digging away, but that no bombshells are expected.

“According to people with reason to know, the NCAA is still conducting an active investigation into Auburn’s recruitment of Newton.  There is an enforcement staff official assigned to the case, and that person is turning over every rock to make sure the NCAA doesn’t get blindsided down the road.

Auburn fans won’t like that information.  Some of them won’t believe it.  they’ll be joined in their displeasure or disbelief by fans of other schools who read this nugget: The bomb is not about to drop.

According to those same well-informed sources, the NCAA has yet to discover or uncover new information that would wipe out Auburn’s national championship season.”

The takeaway: Don’t buy into every comment posted by TideRUs, Dawgface or BayouBozo on your nearest messageboard. 

The NCAA might eventually uncover some shady dealings between AU and the Newtons.  Again, never say never.  But “Gotcha Day” hasn’t come yet.  And contrary to the rumor mill, that day really isn’t close at hand, either.

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More Auburn Off-The-Field News

Over the weekend, it was reported in a tweet — there’s a reason I don’t believe “tweeted” reports — that Auburn had hired former chairman of the NCAA Infractions Committee Gene Marsh.

According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, Auburn “intend 2 fight it all the way.”  Meaning the Cam Newton allegations, of course.

But according to Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News, Auburn has not hired Marsh. 

You take your pick.  Do you trust a tweet?  Or a man who doesn’t limit himself to 140-character bursts?

In other off-field news, Auburn does not have any avenue for appeal regarding the one-half suspensions handed down to Mike Blanc and Michael Goggans for tossing punches in Saturday’s win over Georgia.

When you throw a punch, you’re automatically ejected and you automatically sit for the next half.  In Auburn’s case, their two defensive linemen will miss the first half of the Iron Bowl a week from Friday.

There is no appeals process at the SEC or NCAA level.

Lesson?  Don’t throw punches.

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