Archive for November, 2010

Kennesaw shocks Tech, leaving a basketball lifer in ecstasy

Tony Ingle hugs Spencer Dixon. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Tony Ingle hugs Spencer Dixon. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

In the spring of 2004 Kennesaw State won an NCAA basketball championship — in Division II. About that same time, Georgia Tech was playing for the Division I national title, the “One Shining Moment” version. We mention this to put a score from Monday, Nov. 15, 2010, in full perspective:

Kennesaw State 80, Georgia Tech 63.

Since taking their Division II banner, Tony Ingle and his Owls have made the long uphill slog to Division I. In 2008-2009 they went 7-22. Last season they were 13-20. On Monday night they outclassed a team from the high-falutin’ ACC, a team that only 10 months ago beat Duke, which would go on to claim the national championship (in Division I). And Tony Ingle and his Owls not only won but never trailed.

“If you’re going to upset a team,” Ingle said afterward, “you can’t tiptoe into it. You’ve got to take it to ‘em.”

Then: “We shocked them. We call that our ‘Wendy’s offense’ — get it to go, cheese on …

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Of two raging mediocrities, which is worse – Tech or UGA?

Alas, it has been thumbs-down for both programs in 2010. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Alas, it has been thumbs-down for both programs in 2010. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

There’s a chance Georgia and Georgia Tech could finish 6-6, which is the utter definition of mediocrity. Yet not all mediocrities are created equal, and therefore we ask: Of the two, which has had the worse season? (That’s a bit different than deciding which team is less bad.) And the answer, my friends, is — borrowing a famous description from the former Tennessee voice John Ward — not … even … close.

National expectations: Tech, 5-5, was 16th in the Associated Press preseason poll. Georgia, 5-6, was 23rd. Demerit to Tech.

Local expectations: Georgia was picked to finish second in the East by the SEC media and will finish third. Tech was picked to finish third in the Coastal by the ACC media and is fourth with one conference game remaining. Half-demerit to each.

Manpower: Georgia returned 10 of 11 offensive starters and had the highly regarded Aaron Murray ready to step in at quarterback. …

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Question: Will it ever get better for Mark Richt at UGA?

Has Mark Richt, like his team, run out of steam? (AP photo)

Has Mark Richt run out of steam? (AP photo)

AUBURN, Ala. — On the weekend of Cam-demonium, the Georgia Bulldogs were rendered a footnote. But one snippet of semi-news did emerge Saturday morning, courtesy of the Denver Post: Colorado is apparently interested in Mark Richt to fill its coaching vacancy.

And that might be the best for all concerned: Richt to the Rocky Mountains and a new challenge, Georgia spared a decision no program wants to make. Namely, when and how do you say goodbye to a man who lifted your program but seems incapable of further lifting?

In Year 2 under Gene Chizik, the Auburn Tigers clinched the SEC West by winning Saturday. In Year 10 under Richt, the Georgia Bulldogs fell to 5-6.

Said Bacarri Rambo, the safety: “I never thought the University of Georgia could be 5-6.”

Said Akeem Dent, the linebacker: “That would not make sense to anybody.”

It doesn’t make sense, but it’s grim reality. Georgia was 8-5 last season, its worst under Richt, and it will be …

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Live from Auburn: UGA is playing, and so is Cam Newton

Jordan-Hare Stadium, four hours before kickoff. (M. Bradley photo)

Jordan-Hare Stadium, four hours before kickoff. (Ground-level photo by M. Bradley)

Auburn, Ala. – Esteemed colleague Tim Tucker and I  arrived early, for two reasons: First, it’s Auburn, and traffic is awfu,,and two, we’re expecting something Cam-related to happen. We just don’t know what and when.

The guess among early arrivals in the press box at Jordan-Hare Stadium is that Newton won’t play today, but this is only a guess. And we press-box geniuses have been wrong before. That said:

The report last night by Mark Winne of Channel 2 Action News that Cecil Newton has admitted having pay-for-play discussions regarding his son seems fairly devastating to Cam Newton’s eligibility status. (Even though Winne’s report included Cecil Newton’s claims that Cam knew nothing of the money talk, that Mississippi State never agreed to pay a dime and that Auburn paid nothing.)

Update: We’re now an hour from kickoff, and it appears Newton WILL play. He took part in the Tiger Walk, knelt at …

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Why Auburn can’t allow Cam to play against UGA (Updated)

On Tuesday Gene Chizik  defended Cam Newton against allegations the coach called “pure garbage” by saying the quarterback had done everything asked of him since arriving at Auburn. But now Auburn needs to ask — nay, to demand — that Newton do something difficult for all involved.

Auburn needs to tell Newton to sit out the Georgia game.

The dynamics have changed since Chizik offered his ringing defense. On Wednesday ESPN reported that two unnamed Mississippi State “recruiters” had heard both Newton and his father Cecil mention money in separate phone conversations. On Thursday Kenny Rogers told ESPN 103.3 in Dallas that the elder Newton was seeking between $100,000 and $180,000 for his son to enroll at Mississippi  State.

In nine days we’d gone from two reports that referenced the former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond as a rather distant accuser to stronger allegations that Cecil Newton himself asked for  money. And late Friday Mark Winne of Channel 2 Action News

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Did Cam’s dad put him up for sale? Are we sickened yet?

How much is your child worth? How much is your child’s reputation worth? In 30-plus years of writing about sports, I’ve never really pondered those questions — why ponder the imponderable? — but now, thanks to the latest installment in the Cam Newton Saga, I am.

And, not to put too fine a point on it, I want to retch.

I don’t know if Cecil Newton put a price tag on his son Cam. I only know that Kenny Rogers, the former Mississippi State player who may (or may not) have been the link between the Newtons and John Bond, who touched off this whole tempest eight days ago, went on ESPN 103.3 in Dallas on Thursday and claimed the elder Newton named a price. Quoth Rogers: “Anywhere between $100,000 and $180,000.”

Understand: This doesn’t mean anything untoward actually happened. Rogers admitted Thursday that he doesn’t know if Auburn paid a dime for its quarterback. “No idea,” he said, and then he said it again.

Still, the details Rogers provided regarding his meeting with the Newtons …

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The Cam Newton Saga: Even by SEC standards, it’s bizarre

There’s no tempest like an SEC tempest, the scope of which can be breathtaking. Only in this conference could Alabama’s signing of a lineman from Memphis lead to Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer being served with a subpoena at the league’s Media Days. Only here could a night out in Pensacola, Fla., lead to Mike Price being fired by Alabama before coaching a game. Only the SEC could spawn the feel-good-gone-bad tale of Cameron Jerrell Newton.

He’s a quarterback from College Park who played at Westlake High. He signed with Florida, where he served as understudy for the sainted Tim Tebow. Newton left to attend a junior college in Texas, where he played for Brad Franchione, whose father Dennis used to coach Alabama and whose abrupt departure for Texas A&M led the Tide to hire, albeit briefly, Mike Price. (Nobody does connections like the SEC.)

Newton wound up enrolling at Auburn, where he’s considered the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. His team ranks second in both the …

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Yet another Cam allegation, this one far more serious for AU

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, …

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More on Cam: Urban Meyer claims he wasn’t the town crier

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 …

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Another Cam Newton allegation? Sorry, I’m still not swayed

Cam Newton while at Westlake High. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Cam Newton while at Westlake High. He was good then, too. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Another Cam Newton allegation has arisen, this one involving the quarterback himself. Citing an unnamed source, Thayer Evans of FoxSports.com reports that Newton was accused of cheating while enrolled at Florida.

The same Thayer Evans, it must be noted, had already passed judgment on Newton before his latest round of reporting. Wrote Evans last week: “Listen closely, Heisman voters: Do not vote for Newton.”

I no longer vote for the Heisman Trophy. (The AJC now precludes its writers from so doing.) But if I did, I’d have no problem casting a ballot for the Westlake grad.

Because even if he did cheat at Florida — he was also arrested there on three felony counts involving a stolen laptop — he’s not at Florida anymore. (The charges were dropped after Newton completed a pretrial diversion program.)  Even if former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond was approached by someone saying it would …

Continue reading Another Cam Newton allegation? Sorry, I’m still not swayed »