Get the picture: Cam Newton plays for Auburn but used to play for Florida and considered playing for Mississippi State. Last week ESPN.com reported that former MSU quarterback John Bond — from Valdosta, by the way — was told it would cost the Bulldogs $180,000 to land Newton. On Monday FoxSports.com reported that Newton was facing expulsion for cheating at Florida.
Today’s development in this swiftly moving SEC tempest: Urban Meyer, who coached Newton at Florida, told Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun he hadn’t leaked the information to FoxSports. Dooley quotes the Urbanator thusly:
“Obviously, it’s a joke. I don’t know anything about anything. I heard they’ve got me meeting with the agent and all that. I never met with anybody. It’s ridiculous.”
According to Dooley, the Florida media relations department went so far as to release this statement from Meyer:
“Our entire focus right now is on preparing for our biggest game of the year against South Carolina. For anyone to think that I or anyone on our staff may have leaked information about private student records to the media doesn’t know us very well. It’s a ridiculous claim and simply not true.”
None of this has anything to do with us here in Atlanta. Except that Newton played at Westlake High and lives in College Park, and his father is the pastor of the Holy Zion Church of Deliverance in Newnan. And also that Auburn, which is ranked No. 2 in both the Associated Press poll and BCS standings, faces the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend and can clinch a berth in the SEC championship game at the Georgia Dome by winning. And that Auburn could well meet — small world! — Urban Meyer’s Gators here on Dec. 4.
According to Charles Goldberg of Al.com, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs released a statement — hey, it seems the thing to do — regarding Newton on Tuesday:
“In the past 24 hours, a lot of allegations have surfaced that date back two years ago and further. These allegations and rumors about Cam Newton are unfortunate and sad because they seem intent on tearing down the reputation of a young man who has done everything we’ve asked him to do.
“Cam has been and continues to be completely honest with us. Cam is, by all accounts, a great kid. Any discussion of academic records is a clear violation of federal privacy laws. We will not go down that path or stoop to that level as others have apparently done. We will, however, emphatically say that Cam is eligible to play football at Auburn University both academically and athletically.
“I am proud of this young man and the progress he has made to be a better football player and a better man. We are truly blessed that Cam is a part of the Auburn family, and we support him 100 percent.”