THE TEN AT 10:
1. Put the words “major” and “recruiting” and “violations” together in any sentence and it can send chills down the spines of athletic directors and fans everywhere. Throw them out in the context sports radio personality Colin Cowherd did this week and you could produce full-blown panic.
Cowherd, on his nationally-syndicated ESPN radio program, cryptically revealed on Tuesday that he has information that a “top 10-12″ college football program is about to be “outed” by “major publication” for a “major recruiting violations.” He would not identify the program, said the information was revealed to him in a text message from an apparently credible source and said the staff at ESPN and ESPN.com is attempting to verify the infomation. Before you jump to any conclusions, Cowherd said that it was NOT Auburn.
In case you missed it, here’s what Cowherd said on his program, according to a transcript provided by NBC Sports’ collegefootball.com:
“I received an interesting text about 10 days ago, and this should be very frightening if you’re a fan of college football, that a major program in this country is going to be outed very soon for major recruiting violations. It is a top 10-12 program. I know what I think it is according to both my sources; I received another tip last night. I went to Vince Doria, who is sort of the journalistic editor at this company. He had heard the exact same thing. We are pursuing this story with vigor. A major publication is about to unseat a major college football power on recruiting violations. I will tell you from my source, it is not — it is not — Auburn. I will leave it at that. It is a major program and a major publication. When we can validate more… I have not been able to validate it nor has this company. We’re both pursuing it.”
Subsequent to that, rampant speculation led many to conclude that the program to which Cowherd was referring is Oregon. John Canzano of The Oregonian reported that if Oregon is indeed the focus of the report, the Ducks haven’t been made aware of it by the NCAA or the Pac-12, which usually would be the procedure.
Another speculated target would be Tennessee, which presently finds itself neck deep in NCAA investigations. But the recently released “notice of allegations” the school received from the NCAA indicates that the basketball program is going to bear the brunt of that inquiry. The indiscretions revealed therein about resident NCAA rogue and former football coach Lane Kiffin don’t indicate any violations of the major variety.
So what program is the focus of the NCAA’s alleged ire? I guess we’ll find out eventually. Your guess might depend on which you to believe to be the top 10-12 programs. That’s a debate that could rage on into the ages.
2. Closer to home, Auburn’s relationship with Atlanta’s Newtons, Cameron and Cecil, just won’t go away. For one, Scott Moore won’t let it. Moore is a Huntsville, Ala., sports radio host has been making the rounds with media this week telling anybody who listen that he has audio tapes that Cam Newton knew his father Cecil Newton was shopping him around to Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee and other football programs for money.
AJC columnist Mark Bradley weighed in on this in blogs on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Understandably, Bradley remains skeptical about Moore, who has declined to release the tapes until he plays them on his radio show in two weeks.
Meanwhile, Moore went on the “Chuck and Chernoff Show” on Tuesday to talk about these tapes. Co-hosts Matt Chernoff and Chuck Oliver also came away from the interview feeling more than a little leery. You can CLICK ON THIS LINK and listen to that interview yourself.
3. But it gets better. Today, an apparent snippet from those alleged tapes has been leaked to YouTube.com. Check it out yourself below:
Personally, I’m tired of all the speculation. I think there’s enough chatter going on that the SEC and NCAA are going to diligently investigate and we’ll probably get some kind of ruling on it in, oh, the next year or so.
4. n the meantime, CBSSports.com senior writer Pete Prisco believes the issue is enough to impact Newton’s NFL draft status. And former AJC colleague Len Pasquerelli, one of the most respeocted NFL writers in the business, wrote that Newton came off “insincere” during his news conference with reporters at the NFL combine.
5. I’ve written a lot about Lorenzo Mauldin, the defensive end from Maynard Jackson High who said he felt “shoved away” when South Carolina would not allow him to sign on national signing day despite being committed since last summer. But he was one of two players who was left at the altar by the Gamecocks on national signing day. The other one was Jordan Montgomery, a linebacker/defensive back from Groveland, Fla.
Josh Kendall, who covers South Carolina football for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., reported in a story that was published on Wednesday that Montgomery’s coach at South Lake High, has declared that the Gamecocks’ coaches are “no longer welcome” at the school.
“I cannot look a kid and their parent in the face and say you can trust what a University of South Carolina coach says,” South Lake coach Walter Banks told Kendall.
I’d provide a link to the story but all of The State’s online content is behind a pay wall. But if you’d like to read more about it I certainly think it’s worth it. Just go to GoGamecocks.com.
In the meantime, I’ll summarize some of the high points:
6. Stephenson’s Carlos Hood made it clear that he loved everything about Auburn but he wanted to wait to see who the Tigers hired as his position coach before making a final decision. Well, head coach Gene Chizik hired Chris Pelton on Wednesday replace Tracy Rocker as defensive line coach. Hood, a 6-4, 275-pound defensive lineman, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. But a recent interview I had with him reveals that Auburn has a sizeable lead to obtain his services.
“I really like it,” Hood said after a visit to The Plains last weekend. “That’s where I might go to. I’ve been thinking about Auburn for a long time and then they offered me [last week]. I’ve already been over there a couple of time and I was just there last weekend and now they want me to come back with my mom. I may just go ahead and commit to them. I just want to see who the defensive line coach is going to be first.”
Hood, who also has offers from Memphis, Miami, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and South Florida, is supposed to go back to Auburn this weekend. At that time he’s expected to meet Pelton. Don’t be surprised if he comes back a Tigers’ commitment.
7. Patrick DeStefano, an offensive lineman from Spartanburg, S.C., picked up an offer from Georgia on Tuesday, according to Scout.com’s Chad Simmons. It was the first of five offers for DeStefano (6-5, 270) that day and gives him 19 overall, Simmons reports.
Based on Scout.com’s prospect database, that gives the Bulldogs more than 50 offers extended so far for their Class of 2012. They’ve also offered at least three more Atlanta prospects this week: Banneker DB Chaz Elder, Banneker DE/TE Larry Jefferson and Columbia DE Jhaustin Thomas.
8. I was surprised at some of the reactions to Rusty Mansell’s comments about Brice Ramsey earlier this week. Mansell, a recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com, was telling me how impressed he was with the Camden County quarterback’s throwing exhibition at the Orlando MVP Camp last weekend and he joked that coach Jeff Herron may have to tweak his Wing-T offense to take advantage of Ramsey’s skills.
That brought some criticism to Mansell from some people saying how dare he question the strategies of an ultra successful coach such as Herron. That, of course, was not what Mansell meant.
“By no means am I saying that Camden County and Jeff Herron needs to change what they’ve done and been so successful at,” Mansell, who has since spoke to Herron, told me. “I’m just saying I could see them tweaking their offense a bit for a quarterback like Brice Ramsey, who can throw the ball he does. But Jeff Herron is one of the most successful coaches in the country and I stand by that. Nobody has the right to question his record or what he does and I wasn’t doing that.”
The truth is, there are lots of ways to throw the ball effectively out of the Wing-T.
9. There was an interesting headline from MaxPreps.com that came into my email via Google alert on Thursday. It read: “Marshall Morgan makes commitment to Florida State football.” Morgan, of course, is a highly-rated place-kicker from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., who committed to Georgia on Jan. 31. Turns out he’s still committed to the Bulldogs and the story was simply about him having done so. Apparently a headline writer was just having a very bad day. . . .
10. THIS & THAT: Josh Manley, a defensive lineman from Alpharetta’s Milton High School, has added offers from Georgia Tech and N.C. State, according to JacketsOnline.com. Manley told the website he’d be visiting Tech soon. . . . Columbia’s Jhaustin Thomas added an offer from Oklahoma State on Thursday. . . .
I was surprised to learn this week that there is still a major college football prospect for the Class of 2011 that remains unsigned. Michael Thomas, a four-star wide receiver from Woodland Hills, Calif., postponed his national signing day ceremony last month after his grandmother died. But he still hasn’t signed anywhere and apparently is still being recruited. He has an official visit planned to Colorado this weekend, according to BuffStampede.com. By all accounts, he would appear to be a good catch for any team. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound athlete had 1,756 yards and 22 touchdowns on 86 catches at Taft High as a senior last season.