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.

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

746 comments Add your comment

We Are Family

November 12th, 2010
8:05 am

We shall stand in denial until Hell freezes over. We shall nitpick every nuance of every speck of evidence presented. We shall deride the process and condemn the investigators. We shall create straw-man arguments to deflect attention away from the facts of the case.

We shall fly down the field — ever to conquer, never to yield.

WAR CAM EAGLE

Vic Doley

November 12th, 2010
8:12 am

All part of the Southern Gothic that is college football. What are you gonna do but watch the play unfold?

Beast from the East

November 12th, 2010
8:12 am

We Are Family, LOL!
Enough already. Let’s just drop it until somehting, anything can be confirmed.
Go Gators!

zac

November 12th, 2010
8:13 am

tony,

is there a written rule that you cannot make two blog posts in one day (ie on addressing this situation, and another with the fearless friday forecast)? don’t blame the story of the day on everything.

More SEC Cheating

November 12th, 2010
8:14 am

Hey Tony, with all the cheating and pathetic play of the SEC Least, is it true they have replaced the SEC championship with Fat Phil’s Fish Fry? Do you think Colorado could win the SEC Least?

Journalists?!?

November 12th, 2010
8:15 am

This whole quagmire is beginning to smell an awful lot like the Duke Lacrosse case. Media members appointed themselves judge and jury and, given the opportunity, would have declared themselves executioner as well. It will be fascinating to see where this ends up.

LHardingDawg

November 12th, 2010
8:16 am

I have a couple of tickets to sell for the CAM fest tomorrow. I’ll take between 100K and 180K.

BigBlueCaddy

November 12th, 2010
8:16 am

Where there’s smoke, there’s gotta be BBQ.

Kosar

November 12th, 2010
8:17 am

Auburn and Cam Newton will be the winners here when the true story comes out. This has been a sad episode….but in the end the truth will come out. Stay tuned today from what comes out of Auburn.

Saint Simons

November 12th, 2010
8:18 am

(((( 34 – 31 ))))

HAHAHAHAHAHA

pceasy

November 12th, 2010
8:18 am

This is all very sad. I feel bad for all you Auburn fans.

Jeff

November 12th, 2010
8:18 am

you state that you’re not sure why the FBI is involved…they could care less about the NCAA but are involved because it’s rumored the money that might have changed hands for Cam’s recruitment was run through Cecil’s church…It’s hard not to compare this part of the story to the Marcus Dupree story told on ESPN.

BBQ Mafia

November 12th, 2010
8:19 am

@BigBlueCaddy

Nah. We left with Tubby.

I was rough hanging in there until we got our retirement out of the state of Alabama — but we made it!

Dawg_Mike

November 12th, 2010
8:19 am

Book this: Number 2 will be declared ineligible at some point. If that happens today then we have a good chance to upset the War Eagles. if it doesn’t happen we still have a good chance, just not AS good.
Go Dawgs!

SG AU FAN!!

November 12th, 2010
8:20 am

Auburn needs to do the right thing whatever that is. If there is credible evidence that Cam is not eligible we should bench him untill there are no doubts. We can beat UGA with Kodi Burns or Neal Caudle.

War Dam Eagle!!

Jim Mora Jr.

November 12th, 2010
8:21 am

Why does Cam Newton wear #2?
Because $200,000 wouldn’t fit on the jersey.

David

November 12th, 2010
8:23 am

The question I have is if Cecil ask Rodgers for 180k that night @ the Garden Hilton and Rodger told the coaches why would MSU continue to recruit Cam?

Obvious

November 12th, 2010
8:24 am

@David

They needed to gather evidence for the NCAA investigation.

SWGADAWG

November 12th, 2010
8:24 am

If any of this turns out to be true, Auburn is taking a HUGE risk. If it were my Dawgs though, I’d be saying to heck with the NCAA until there’s proof. Unfotrtunately, the NCAA has the hammer and they love to punish retroactively…..scary stuff for the War Eagles. And I’m sure those Bama fans really hate this…..

Left to Right

November 12th, 2010
8:25 am

Tony might as well work in Mike Slive’s PR department. Shameful.

Gary Spencer

November 12th, 2010
8:26 am

The NCAA complaining about Newton asking for money is the equivalent of a gangster going to the cops and saying-”hey-I was blackmailed!” The NCAA-the only game in town if you want to play pro ball-rakes in millions from these kids, allows many of them in without academic credentials, discards them without recourse if things don’t work out, pays coached millions, and wants to cry when someone wants some of the money. If Cam Newton blows a knee or his family has a serious illness, will the NCAA step in and help? Not so much. Hard for me to get worked up about this.

travy

November 12th, 2010
8:26 am

i tend to be in the where’s-there’s-smoke camp but i listened to the radio interview with bell yesterday and he didn’t sound real solid with the facts. lots of ‘i don’t remember what he said exactly’ and obvious contradictions like, if you didn’t want to hear about money, why did you talk about money?

there’s slime everywhere in college football so nothing will surprise me but this story has yet to provide anything solid you could hang on the newtons or auburn. like was said above, it’s starting to smell like duke lacrosse.

Dawg Fan

November 12th, 2010
8:27 am

The curtain is up on the whole Cam Sham. Come clean Auburn, 13 arrests at Florida, requests for money at State, did the Cheeta (pun intended) change his spots at Auburn….I think not!

@klubkd

November 12th, 2010
8:27 am

To the honorable Mr. Barnhart I have a question…why hasn’t Dan Mullen been called out for causing this to come to light? All of the “sources” in question (in some way, shape or form) represented MSU. We always say that the coaches control all aspects of their programs (even the unsavory parts that they never willingly admit to…I’m looking at you Butch Davis). I swear…hell hath no fury like an SEC coach’s scorn. SMH

Obvious

November 12th, 2010
8:27 am

@Gary Spencer

There’s a simple solution. Shut down the NFL.

JB

November 12th, 2010
8:28 am

The church was in disrepair….The church is fixed…Ole Cecil ain’t talking how the church got repaired, just say’n…..

btgt69

November 12th, 2010
8:28 am

they need bill clinton as a rep,,, nothing stuck to him,,, just ask monica

Your Tattoos are lame

November 12th, 2010
8:28 am

“War Cam Eagle” is the most retarded thing I have seen…you should be embarassed.

Seriously, what the hell are you? Tigers or an Eagle…make up your mind.

And if you take nothing else from this article AU fans…read that last sentence, because if your AD is wrong…GOD help you.

Chris

November 12th, 2010
8:28 am

You said there is not one allegation that Auburn has done anything wrong, but if the claimed phone calls turn out to be true, then Auburn IS implicated. One of the calls claimed that Cam told the MSU “recruiter” that the “money was too much”. To my eyes, that says “Auburn paid more than you”.

RxDawg

November 12th, 2010
8:30 am

This is story is about as rotten as it gets. There is no doubt now that Cam Newton was bought and paid for. I’m actually astonished Auburn is insisting on playing him after all that has come to light. You think that guy would be suiting up at UGA?

jellybeandawg

November 12th, 2010
8:30 am

I hope Cam plays because it just wouldn’t be any fun upsetting a Cam-less Auburn. Auburn should follow Tennessee’s lead in regard to these investigations by admitting to nothing and by telling the NCAA to go pound sand.

All Tattoos are lame

November 12th, 2010
8:30 am

Just Sayin’…

d

November 12th, 2010
8:31 am

If someone has recorded messages of Cecil Newton or Cam Newton asking for money I will believe Rodgers story, but he was on the same radio show Friday and gave a totally different story. So he’s a liar.

Jim

November 12th, 2010
8:32 am

More SEC Cheating – man,you area complete idiot, and yes, A-Hole.

Obvious

November 12th, 2010
8:32 am

@jellybeandawg

If they were handling it like Fulmer, then they’d have already set up some other team and snitched on them to save their own hineys.

Fleming Island Dawg

November 12th, 2010
8:32 am

SS “30-24″ Ha Ha SG “31-24″ Ha Ha

Vinson Laine

November 12th, 2010
8:33 am

Auburn 45, Georgia 17.

Even the red panties won’t be enough to save the dawgtards.

Fleming Island Dawg

November 12th, 2010
8:34 am

Judging from pictures of Cam he might be wearing the Red Panties!!!

MURPHY

November 12th, 2010
8:34 am

Beast from the east,

Auburn going to enter the stadium to the Sister Sledge song: We are Family !

All are picking the Gators to win-All say Carolina not ready to take the step of Champions yet.I disagree-Spurrier and the boys ready to win the East.Should be a very entertaining contest.

shane

November 12th, 2010
8:35 am

Bill Bell, a prominent MSU booster, has turned over tape of Rogers requesting money on behalf of the Newton Family. Only going to get worse for Auburn.

Cam Corleone

November 12th, 2010
8:36 am

If Rogers approached Bond about Newton at the Egg Bowl in November, why did Miss. State continue to recruit him through January?

If Rogers approached Bond about money, why didn’t the conversation about money stop there? If you believe these other assistants and boosters at Miss. State, conversations about money continued long after the alleged Bond/Rogers conversation in November, and involved more people than Bond and Rogers. If Miss. State thought this was all so wrong, why didn’t they nip it in the bud right there and then when Bond was approached by Rogers?

Miss State reported this in January, long after the initial Egg Bowl conversation. When the SEC kicked it back to them for more info, Miss State sat on it for 6 months. Why? Did they then realize that they hadn’t gotten their stories straight and realize their hands weren’t exactly clean in all of this? Why were Miss. State bagman boosters and recruiters still having conversations with the Newton family about money long after the alleged Bond/Rogers conversation?

When Miss State finally went back in July to the NCAA and SEC with further information, why wasn’t all of the info revealed that is supposedly out there now?

Oklahoma said they were never approached about cash for Cam. Auburn hasn’t said a word about cash for Cam. It’s only Miss State who keeps alleging this cash for Cam thing.

Unless a smoking gun audiotape comes out incriminating either of the Newtons, nothing can be done about this. Unless there are smoking gun financial records that show Papa Newton’s church got cash, nothing can be done about this. Miss State simply doesn’t have enough credibility in this matter to just go by their say so. As it stands right now, Miss State just looks like a jilted lover that needs to clean up its own backyard.

heyberto

November 12th, 2010
8:37 am

This is just crazy. If Auburn didn’t pay to play and didn’t know about it, then I feel sorry for them… but if this is true, someone over there had to know, even if its just Auburn boosters and not coaches or the institution itself. Personlly, I don’t want the easy way out. I want to see how the Dawgs do against Cam Newton, and it looks like that’s what we’ll get.

Deon Figures

November 12th, 2010
8:37 am

Mr. Obvious just re-inforces his nickname once again.

MURPHY

November 12th, 2010
8:37 am

shane,

Were did you hear that?

Dolly Parton

November 12th, 2010
8:38 am

Leave Kenny Rogers Alone!!!

Gatorrrrrs

November 12th, 2010
8:38 am

RxDawg REALLY There is no doubt now that Cam Newton was bought and paid for. No my man the only thing that there is no doubt about is that your Dawg SUCK!!!!!!!

Dirty Harry

November 12th, 2010
8:39 am

The cheating punks at Auburn are going down this weekend!

@klubkd

November 12th, 2010
8:39 am

RxDAWG…If Uga was 10-0 an had a chance to play for the national championship, you guys would suit up Newton, Hitler and Beelzebulb…and you all would defend starting all three. Remember, damn near everyone one the Dawgs’ message boards wanted AJ Green to play; even after finding out that he violated NCAA rules. Remember??? That was only 2 months ago…

Spike

November 12th, 2010
8:39 am

The more you stir it, the more it stinks.