Cameron Newton story reaching critical mass

It was my hope this morning to take a break from the ongoing, sordid saga that as become the Cameron Newton story and write about what is going to be another great football weekend:

We have the No. 2 team in the nation (Auburn) trying to stay alive in the race for the national championship against a traditional rival (Georgia) which needs a signature win to save its season.

We have the drama of a winner take all game at Florida where Steve Spurrier, the former Gator coach, has a chance to take South Carolina to its first-ever SEC championship game.

But the Cameron Newton story has sucked all of the oxygen out of this college football season. It’s sad. But you can’t ignore it even if you want to.

So for the second straight week we will not do our Fearless Friday Forecast.  Here, based on a very long Thursday, is where I believe we are on the Cameron Newton Story:

We are quickly reaching critical mass. Two big events happened yesterday that make me feel this way.

 Remember that ESPN.com reported on Wednesday that: “Two sources who can recruit for Mississippi State  said that Cecil Newton and his son, quarterback Cam Newton, admitted in separate phone conversations to a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited last year.” The claim was that Newton told Mississippi State coaches that he wasn’t coming to Starkville because his dad got a deal to ship him somewhere else. Let me also point out that there is no evidence and no one claiming directly that Auburn has broken any rules.

Yesterday we reminded you that Mississippi State originally brought the idea to the SEC that there might be some problems with Cameron Newton’s recruitment. The SEC asked for more information but that additional information was not forthcoming until July. So inquiring minds wanted to know why,  if Mississippi State had direct info that Newton had made this claim to staff members, wasn’t this dealt with this summer? That is a very serious charge.

But the SEC, through spokesman Charles Bloom, revealed that in the reports that it received back from Mississippi State on this issue there was no mention–none–of any such conversations between staffers and the Newtons. I independently confirmed that last night with the SEC office.

So on this matter we are left to draw one of three conclusions:

1. Mississippi State did not share that information with the SEC because it did not want to get that deeply involved in the case and hoped it would just go away.

2. The conversations that were reported by ESPN.com may have taken place but were not with Mississippi State assistant coaches or the head coach (the only people allowed to recruit under NCAA rules) but were with lower level staffers. Thus the Mississippi State brass was not aware of them.

3. The conversations never took place and were incorrectly reported.

Here is the second big item: Last night Kenny Rogers, the former Mississippi State player who started this story, decided to “come clean” on a talk show in Dallas. Accompanied by this attorney (who was on the phone), Rogers told host Ian Fitzsimmons that he and Cameron Newton’s father, Cecil, met with Mississippi State coaches in Starkville on Nov. 27, 2009. Rogers said Cecil Newton asked for money to sign his son and that one of the Mississippi State coaches said “No, no I don’t want to hear that.”

Rogers said later in the interview that Cecil Newton told him that it would take “Anywhere between $100,000 and $180,000″ for his son to sign with Mississippi State.

I spoke with Fitzsimmons last night and he confirmed that all of the reporting on Rogers’ appearance was accurate.

We now have a new name in this this mix. Bill Bell is a successful Mississippi State booster and  told ESPN.com last night that Cecil Newton did in fact ask for money to sign his son. Rogers said that he was referred to Bell on the issue of money.  Bell also said he has already discussed this matter with the NCAA.

Rogers also said that he first contacted Cecil Newton to offer his help when Cameron left Florida. Rogers said that Cecil Newton said, in so many words,  ”It’s not gonna be free this time.”

Folks, I’ve been covering this league a long time but it looks like were are definitely in some uncharted waters here. Just a few observations as we move forward:

**–I know Mississippi State has a game on Saturday with Alabama, but if I’m the SEC I want every coach on that staff, including the head coach, to look me in the eye and tell me if Cecil Newton or Cameron Newton actually made those claims. And if those coaches lie to me they will be fired on the spot and will never–EVER–get another job in college athletics again.

**–The FBI has gotten involved and we’re not sure why. But former Mississippi State player John Bond, whose contact with Kenny Rogers started this story, said yesterday that he’ll be talking to the FBI.

**–Cecil Newton is not talking to the media any more and has lawyered up.

**–This story has been going on for more than a week and there is not one allegation that Auburn has done anything wrong.  I am not saying I know Auburn hasn’t done anything wrong. We don’t know. I am familiar with the enforcement and compliance staff over there led by Rich McGlynn, and they are a pretty tough bunch. If they had some evidence that Cameron Newton’s father got money from anybody to sign his son, the school would have to sit him. It looks like a roll of the dice to me given all the smoke but you can’t sit the kid if you don’t have some evidence.

**–Does the mere solicitation of money, even if it was not acted upon, constitute an NCAA rules violation? There seems to be some debate on that. An NCAA spokesperson told Yahoo Sports that, in general terms, if somebody solicted money on Newton’s behalf, even if the solicitation was not acted upon, then that constitutes an NCAA violation. Attorney Don Jackson, who represents athletes in cases such as these, questioned that claim when he appeared on Paul Finebaum’s show yesterday. But if that is true and the NCAA has reason to believe that somebody solicted money for Newton, including Newton’s father, the NCAA can recommend that Auburn sit Newton down until the matter is resolved.

**–If that happens, Auburn will have a decision to make. Remember that it is the responsibility of the institution to sit the player if there are possible rules violations. That’s what Georgia did in the case of A.J. Green. Once the player is suspended, then the institution applies for reinstatement. In the case of Green the NCAA denied reinstatement until after Green served a four-game suspension. So this isn’t on the NCAA or the SEC. It’s on Auburn. And as of Friday morning Auburn appears to be ”All In” on Cameron Newton. If you love Auburn, and have a lot of friends who do, you had better pray Jay Jacobs and the rest of that staff are right.

Stay tuned. This story is moving fast and a lot could happen between now and Saturday’s 3:30 kickoff.

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746 comments Add your comment

@klubkd

November 12th, 2010
9:02 am

RxDawg…valid points and I whole-heartedly agree with your sentiments except for one thing. When AJ was shut down, it was originally believed it would be for the first game (against a scrub, by the way) and he’d suit up against Carolina. We originally thought his investigation was about the Miami trip, which he denied and we all believed. Given those circumstances, sitting AJ was a no-brainer…you didn’t need him. Auburn has possibly played all year with an ineligible player. If he’s guilty then sitting him wouldn’t save the season.

RxDawg you’re a good dude…enjoyed the intelligent conversation and debate.

Felix the Cat

November 12th, 2010
9:02 am

if it looks like poop, smells like poop, feels like poop, tastes like poop….well its probably poop..

Hal

November 12th, 2010
9:03 am

I hope Auburn and Cam Newton are good. But you have to ask yourself “What kind of history does Auburn have when it comes to NCAA vilolations? We all know the answer to that. Would Auburn take a short cut to close the gap with their biggest rival Alabama ? Would they? I hope not because it makes college football look bad.

justthefacts

November 12th, 2010
9:03 am

@d 8:31…Rodgers may have told a lie last week? But this week the FBI starts getting involved.Do you get it? The FBI is involved and people are NOT going to lie now for anybody.There is no smoke here,the kitchen is on fire and folks are coming clean.Do you really think these guys are going to lie to the feds???

layinlow

November 12th, 2010
9:04 am

Why can’t you also do the fearless friday forecast? lol. Some of the other writers have been known to sometimes churn out 3 blogs in one day. So basically you’re saying that because you had to write on the newton saga there is no way you can take 10 minutes to do the friday forecast. ok.

Auburn | MrSEC.com

November 12th, 2010
9:05 am

[...] this point.”3.  Tony Barnhart of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes this morning that the Newton story is reaching critical mass.4.  Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News reports that “two people with extensive [...]

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
9:05 am

Dear Aubie bretheren and sisteren, fear no probation for the cash was passed straight from a malt liquor bag into our collection plate…untraceable. My church is a money launderer’s dream…so long as the unnamed benefactor (ahem…coughing lowder) seeks no deductibility.

Shug

November 12th, 2010
9:05 am

What happened to the good ole days when we just got a player a hooker?

St. Bernard

November 12th, 2010
9:07 am

Makes selling a jersey seem irrelevant. But that jersey cost the team some games, and could cost the coaches their jobs.

Spike

November 12th, 2010
9:08 am

Pat Dye called and said Georgia is not man enough to beat AU.

Marcus Dupree

November 12th, 2010
9:08 am

Dern, I ain’t aksed fo enuf money. Next time…byeeeatch.

Jim

November 12th, 2010
9:08 am

This is debacle is why you don’t fire your coaches. If Miss. St., Auburn, (and, to some extent, Florida) continue to spend their time wrapped up or chiming in on this debacle, don’t you want a solid foundation to seize the opportunities?

TigerMikie

November 12th, 2010
9:09 am

This looks a lot like Auburn’s last stand. “General Custer, its awful quiet.”

Little Awful Annie

November 12th, 2010
9:09 am

The good book says, “judge not unless you be Cam Newton”.

Marcus Dupree

November 12th, 2010
9:09 am

Evabody know pat Dye too damn dum to use no telephone.

SEC Observer

November 12th, 2010
9:10 am

Where are the Auburn posters?

Ralph

November 12th, 2010
9:10 am

Barnhart, what a jerk you are. You are literally begging that Newton not play against thUGA.

According to the interpretation you like best – if somebody/anybody (Rogers?) makes a solicitation offer, valid or not, no matter whether it is accepted or not causes a player to lose eligibility. Guilty until proven innocent will have thousands of such “solicitation” claims from competitive team boosters to screw up players chances of playing. Is this what you are doing?

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
9:11 am

Plausibile deniability…Cam has it because he has no idea what I did in his name. It’s the perfect plan. Don’t ask; don’t tell. Just go where I tell you to go.

[...] Re: Latest Bama News 11/11/12 Latest on Cam. Cameron Newton story reaching critical mass Cameron Newton story reaching critical mass | Mr. College Football [...]

KT

November 12th, 2010
9:12 am

Since the story broke, everyone assumes that Auburn and the Newtons are guilty, even though there’s no proof of that. People also continue to believe that Ken Rogers is honest (WTH?) and that MSU has clean hands. Just for fun, let’s assume that the Newtons are decent people who happen to be innocent: Cam wanted to go to MS State, so he and his father go for a visit in November of 2009. While there, Cecil meets Ken Rogers (who will probably change his story again today) and they have a conversation that most likely included the fact that Cam was also planning visits to OU and AU. What if Ken Rogers brought up the money first and asked Cecil how much it would take to get Cam to commit to MSU? Then he picked up the phone to call Bell to prove to Cecil that he could get the money? (Side note: Rogers says he was ‘referred’ to Bell. By whom?) Maybe Cecil didn’t want any part of that, and that’s how Cam ended up at Auburn. We already know from the SEC that MSU did NOT report any of these conversations to the SEC. Why not? Could it be because they made the cash offer to Cecil, not the other way around? Either way, MSU is now implicated in a whole pantload of wrongdoing. Random recruiters, the phone call to Bell to secure the money, the conversation between Rogers and Bond, etc. And still…..there’s no proof that Auburn and the Newtons have done anything wrong.

sunny purdue

November 12th, 2010
9:13 am

This is not a fast moving story. It’s glacial in its speed. There is nothing new for the past week. We have been hearing about pay for play without any proof since the story first broke. Frankly, it’s getting boring. Please get back to us when there is some real news.

A lawyer

November 12th, 2010
9:14 am

Dear putzes (putzi??). innocent until proven guilty is not a bedrock principle of American jurisprudence. It is a trope for uneducated. The only standard is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”. You Aubies need to find another aphorism.

Sister Mary Shirley

November 12th, 2010
9:16 am

Cam Newton’s doing the Lords work! He put a roof over baby Jesus head. The Lord said, let all my flock be frocked and Cam bought them new clothes, Cam is doing the Lords work.

JB

November 12th, 2010
9:16 am

Wonder what Auburn would do Saturday, let’s say if he was the Starting left Guard, Just asking?

3rdN8

November 12th, 2010
9:16 am

This is a sad situation for Auburn. Whatever comes out now in this investigation will put a damper on what has been an outstanding season. I hope this is cleared up, and soon. I want to see Auburn’s best against Bama’s best in Bryant-Denny.

The thing that puzzles me is the response (or lack thereof) by the SEC office. Why not fully disclose the information they received in January, and the info received in July. If the reports are somewhat accurate, it would appear that MSU, and AU acted within the rules (although MSU is starting to look a bit iffy). But like it is, the SEC office has left two of its’ institutions twisting in the wind.

Les

November 12th, 2010
9:16 am

None of this Cam Newton situation would be in the news if Auburn was not BCS ranked #2 and was having a mediocre season. If Auburn has a three or four loss season at this point, no one would be saying anything about Cam’s recruiting.

Dogfish

November 12th, 2010
9:17 am

@Klubkd…
But we did’nt suit up AJ because there we’re issues. That decision cost UGA some victories.
I have no doubt Auburn’s coaching staff followed the rules and are not involved, but If you think some booster did’nt pay for Cam to sign with Auburn, you have your head way too deep in the sand. You think Cam’s dad hired a lawyer because he’s innocent and has nothing to hide?? Get real.

JB

November 12th, 2010
9:18 am

Auburn fans need to be nervous….To may people “trying” to talk about this without blowing it open…….If Cam said, I’m going to Auburn because the money’s to good, This is gonna be bad.

War Lowder Eagle

November 12th, 2010
9:18 am

If Coach Dye were in charge, none of this would have happened!

And we would be 5-5.

TommyJack

November 12th, 2010
9:20 am

Sounds like a bammer plot to me.

JB

November 12th, 2010
9:21 am

Well, I’m a Georgia fan and maybe proud today to be 5-5…..if you get my drift………

SteveW

November 12th, 2010
9:21 am

I personally think this mess will cost UGA any chance we had of winning this game:

1) If Cam plays, he’s gonna be mad, and out to show how good he is to everybody. He will put forth the extra effort.

2) If he sits, it will rally the troops on the AU team, and they’ll play like maniacs to save their season and win one for Cam.

Either way, bad news for us Dawg fans.

dawghuff

November 12th, 2010
9:21 am

The biggest winner of this deal because the Newton’s are obviously scum? LSU will now be considered undefeated, believe me… this story isn’t going away, the Newton’s have solicited money. Cam will be illegible before the season is over and LSU will play in the title game…

Noproof?

November 12th, 2010
9:21 am

How many names do you need? Sure,all of these guys are lying and making their own school,THEIR OWN SCHOOL look bad just to get ole Auburn.Get a clue folks this is dirty and true!

Dog in TN

November 12th, 2010
9:21 am

This is just sad. As are the inane comments from Dawgs, Gators, etc.

3rdN8

November 12th, 2010
9:22 am

Here’s a question(s). What if someone, or a group of someones (unrelated in any official capacity to a university) donated money directly to a struggling church in Georgia? How could anyone “prove” this donation was related in any way to a football player? Also, it would be tax deductible.

Cecil Newton may be the smartest guy in the room.

War Lowder Eagle

November 12th, 2010
9:22 am

You dags don’t need to worry about it. No matter what you will not win. This is a state of alabama issue.

dap01

November 12th, 2010
9:22 am

I am amazed at Auburns lack of leadership in this whole issue. Either they are hiding something or they are being foolish.

JB

November 12th, 2010
9:23 am

I wonder what the “mood” will be in that Stadium Saturday……I know the students won’t care, they are clueless about all this, but the Alum?

ol' balls coach

November 12th, 2010
9:23 am

C’mon, I wouldn’t have lived and played in Starkville for a million $.

SteveW

November 12th, 2010
9:23 am

Now if Willie kidnaps his son and flees to Ecuodar or somewhere with the cash, that may be a bizzare enough scenario to help the Dawgs. Don’t see that happening however….

JB

November 12th, 2010
9:24 am

good good point 3rdn8……

Cam Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
9:25 am

That’s right. You cannot find the money. These churches receive anaonymous donatons all the time. You should start one yourself. The First Church of Cameron Newton has certainly earned well.

Burma Shave

November 12th, 2010
9:27 am

Cam plays tomorrow

And Auburn will win

Georgia will lose

Amid the boos.

Burma shave

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
9:27 am

Hey, you stole my handle…there is only one man of God inthe Newton household!

JB

November 12th, 2010
9:27 am

I betting that’s what happened….Ole Cecil told them to give the money to the church, and nobody gets hurt, and Cam will be a Tiger……..clever………Not ties to the coach’s or the school….

Tucker

November 12th, 2010
9:27 am

What goes on between “unofficial” recruiters, boosters, and prospects and their families is a Netherworld that few BCS programs want explored. The NCAA has attempted feverishly to legislate curbs on these activities, but in effect has only driven the “business” farther underground. The concept of “student-athlete” is deeply flawed in its present incarnation. The NCAA is nearing the point of having to recreate that concept or face the reality of semi-amateur athletics on college campuses with little or no emphasis on the student aspect. One has to wonder where an “anything goes” approach would lead. Would it be that much worse than what we already have?

Dooley Dawg

November 12th, 2010
9:27 am

From the looks of Cecil Newton’s church in Newnan, they did not get their moneys worth if the story is true… maybe the money literally went “through’ the church… whatever… Go Dawgs! We can take them on with or without Cam!

Cecil Newton is a man of God

November 12th, 2010
9:28 am

And who pays Cecil’s salary? Why, the church of course!

pk

November 12th, 2010
9:28 am

Tony, I am dissappointed with you on this one. I believe you are one of the more thorough and trustworthy sources for news, but you have failed me on this one. How come you do not mention anything about who Kenny Rogers is, and the fact that he is named in 15 counts of fraudulent violations by the NFLPA for misrepresenting himself to players and others. This is actual evidence, unlike most of this other stuff which is mostly rumor and he-said-she-said. Check it out (Nov. 5th filed by NFLPA against Ian Greengross, cites his runner Kenny Rogers in I think 15 of the violations-this is evidence that Kenny ROgers is a liar) Do a story on this and redeem yourself as a thorough journalist for me please!