It’s a new day, but the same story. Or, more precisely, the same story with a new twist. Joe Schad of ESPN.com is reporting that two sources who recruit for Mississippi State claim that Cam Newton, the Auburn quarterback who’s from College Park, and his father Cecil “admitted in separate phone conversations to a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.”
More ominously for Auburn, Schad reports that Cam Newton called another recruiter to express regret, saying his father had chosen Auburn for him because “the money was too much.”
A tempest has raged around Newton the past week, beginning with ESPN’s original report that the former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond claimed he had been told it would take $180,000 for the player to enroll at MSU. A subsequent report by FoxSports.com contended that Newton had faced charges of cheating while at Florida, prompting angry responses from both Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs and coach Gene Chizik and, in a bizarre twist, a denial from Florida coach Urban Meyer that he had been FoxSports’ source.
But this latest report from ESPN marks the first time the Newtons, father and son, have been linked — even if the link comes via second-hand unnamed sources — to any recruiting malfeasance, and it’s also the first time it has been suggested — even if the suggestion was apparently made by Cam Newton himself — that the family might have received money from Auburn.
And this could change everything. Auburn’s stance to date has been that Newton is eligible to play for the Tigers, but a school cannot allow a player to continue to represent it if his eligibility is at issue. To date it hasn’t been. (The Bond allegations pertained to Mississippi State, not Auburn.) But now it is.
And Auburn, which is ranked No. 2 in both the Associated Press poll and the BCS standings, plays Georgia on Saturday. You’d be well advised to stay tuned.