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Friday, November 5, 2010

Trying to sort out the Cam Newton situation

It's been less than 24 hours since news first broke that a man claiming to represent Cam Newton's interests allegedly asked for $180,000 from Mississippi State during the quarterback's recruitment last year.

There are plenty of questions floating around out there. Let's examine some of them:

1. What is known so far?
What we know is that former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond said a former teammate of his from the early 1980's claimed he was a member of Newton's camp during the quarterback's recruitment last year. That player has been identified as Kenny Rogers. Rogers asked for $180,000 for Newton to sign with the Bulldogs. MSU declined and passed the information along to the SEC, which relayed the information to the NCAA. It has since investigated the matter. From all accounts, Mississippi State and Auburn have handled themselves properly throughout the affair.
2. Is it true?
Who knows? But the Newton's father, Cecil, denied any connection to Rogers, saying he never asked for money in the recruiting process and only knew of him informally. "If Rogers tried to solicit money from Mississippi State," Cecil told ESPN.com, "he did it on his own, without our knowledge."
3. Who is Rogers?
He runs Chicago-based company called Elite Football Preparation, which, according to this ESPN article, specializes in helping potential transfers who "get kicked out of school." Rogers has been described as a runner for NFL agent Ian Greengross, although Greengross has denied that's the case. Still, the NFL Players Association is investigating Rogers for posing as an NFLPA employee while trying to influence players to sign with agents. Clearly, he has some issues to clear up.
4. What does that mean for Auburn?
At this point, nothing. Auburn has not been implicated by the NCAA in anything and according to reports is not the target of any investigation. There is nothing in either the ESPN.com or New York Times reports saying Auburn paid for Newton's services.
5. What does that mean for Newton's eligibility?
As head coach Gene Chizik emphatically put it last night: Newton is eligible. That's as of right now. Who knows where this investigation will go, however, or how long it might take. Remember, Reggie Bush was eligible throughout his entire NCAA career. It wasn't until afterward that he was ruled ineligible. But this appears to be a different circumstance. The SEC knew about this in July, which stands to reason that Auburn was made aware of it that early. Despite that, the Tigers felt comfortable enough with Newton's eligibility not to hold him out of any games early in the season. Schools usually caution on the side of error in those matters. Remember, it was the schools themselves that held out players like North Carolina's Marvin Austin, Alabama's Marcell Dareus and Georgia's A.J. Green while the NCAA conducted investigations earlier this year (the NCAA then levied suspensions once its investigation concluded). Auburn didn't feel the need to take that measure. That can be seen as a sign of the school's confidence that Newton was not included in this mess.
6. Will Auburn sit down Newton at any point because of this?
It wouldn't make sense to. He's already played nine games this season that would be wiped out if the NCAA finds any wrongdoing on his part. What's the difference between 9 games and 14? And to be clear again: nobody has directly accused Newton of anything. I'd expect Newton to start the remainder of Auburn's games, without question.
7. Are there reasons for suspicion?
Of course. There always are with big-time recruits. There is the bizarre thing about Newton wanting to play for Mississippi State and his father basically choosing Auburn for him. There is the church angle, which is relevant to the story because the NCAA specifically asked Cecil for financial records to the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance in Newnan, Ga. Cecil is a pastor there. The church was in danger of being demolished by order of the Newnan City Council in 2009 for failing to meet the city’s building code. After several extensions, renovation work began last spring. The paper reported Oct. 28 that the church has been brought up to code. Examining closer, however, Cecil informed the Newnan City Council that he had the money to bring the church up to code on Sept. 23, 2009, a few months before Auburn began courting Newton. It should be noted that Cecil has cooperated with the NCAA by turning over bank and financial records.
8. What does this mean for Newton's Heisman chances?
It can't help. Some voters have already publicly stated that this should eliminate Newton from Heisman contention. So much for the presumption of innocence. But in the wake of the Bush scandal, and the former USC running back forfeiting the award and returning his trophy, I can see how some voters could be turned off by the accusations. Should it affect Newton's standing? No. There's nothing yet that's implicated him of any wrongdoing in the matter and he remains a eligible player whose accomplishments are deserving of consideration. Will it affect Newton's standing? Probably. The headlines today all involved "Cam Newton" and "recruitment" and "$200,000." Whether or not it's true, it's bound to have an affect on some voters. And in the Heisman race, losing only a few voters could be costly.
9. Will this affect the pollsters' opinions of Auburn?
I guess we'll see. The human polls that are two-thirds of the Bowl Championship Series rankings obviously have a subjective nature to them. And with feel-good programs like Boise State, TCU and Utah nipping on Auburn's heels, it is possible that some voters might look at them more favorably than program like Auburn, which, fair or not, has been dragged into this affair. It's hard to tell, though. This much appears to be clear: if the Tigers go 13-0 and win the SEC championship, it'll be impossible for anyone to penalize them in the polls.


Anonymous said...

Holy crap this was funny. Great tweet, Andy.

Jared said...

My biggest question. What happened between Dec/Jan when MSU said they immediately notified the SEC and July when the SEC began any type of investigation and Oct when the NCAA began theirs?

Hetar said...

Andy, been reading your stuffs since you came to Columbus and I wanted to thank you for continuing to be level headed in your reporting. This blog really helped me wrap my head around this whole thing.

Jason said...

Thank for helping to make sense of all this. I have faith (and more confidence) that Auburn has no reason to be genuinely distracted by this timely mudslinging. Those guys seem to have more chemistry than ever right now. Every great movie has an uncomfortable part where the bad guys get their way for a while; I guess the same goes for any rise to the top.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see someone actually using their head and not being an idiot like Thayer Evans. Evans wrote an article titled Don't vote for Newton haha but then made a pitch for Boise States QB stating that Moore did not have to dress up like a fairy to get attention like Newton did . That was part of a Auburn Halloween Party not him trying to increase his attention because honestly he doesnt need more attention.

Tyson said...

How long before there are new updates? Any chance the whole thing gets resolved before the Heisman vote?

Andy Bitter said...

The NCAA is a slow-moving operation. I would imagine this won't be resolved for a while. Just look at the Michigan practice ruling. That came a year after the allegations.

But Cecil submitted his bank records a month ago, so some progress might have already been made.

AuburnStevo said...

re: your poll - Do I think it should, no. Do I think it will, yes.

Anonymous said...

I do not care if Newton family received a million dollars. He would play like an athletic freak anywhere he went. The ability is not defined by money...Give him the Heisman..........

L-E expatriate said...

Excellent and well-reasoned breakdown, Andy.

I'm simply amazed that Kenny Rogers is going around asking for $180,000 to $200,000. Guess he couldn't live off his "Six Pack'' movie royalties forever:


Anonymous said...

Is this just something to 1. 'sale' papers and get attention?
2. something that 'someone else' uses to hurt AU through Newton?

The B'ham sports talk radios are sure bringing up 'is there another SEC coach behind this and it is not MS State.'

RJ said...

Yeah, this guy was asking for money to get Cam to go to MSU. And I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV so come and see me when your tummy hurts.

Just some sour grapes from a MSU alum/never-was and closet Bama fan. Bama knows they can't beat Auburn if Cam is anywhere in the state of Alabama.

But once again, the mass media jumps to conclusions. The comparisons to the Bush events isn't fair, either. It was well known in LA that Reggie and his parents were taking payments under the table during his stay there. C'mon, they moved from the projects to one of the ritziest neighborhoods in town. But the media wasn't going to turn on their darling Trojans.

And it should be apparent to anyone who watched the debacle of the 2004 season that the media doesn't like Auburn.

Anonymous said...


Do you have any comment on the alleged Meyer involvement? I did not think it passed the "smell test" when I first read it, but now P. Marshall has joined J. Lee and, apparently W. Collier, in perpetuating that line of thinking.


Andy Bitter said...

Not sure what to think about Meyer's involvement.

It would appear, just based on the timing of ESPN and the NY Times coming out with simultaneous reports yesterday, that somebody leaked it to both outlets, though.

Walker said...

What if this happened? What if Kenny Rogers comes to Cecil and says, "Hey man, there is no reason for you to be living in poverty, your kid is really good. Let me get you a little taste for Cam going to Mississippi State." Cecil says, ok, tell me what you can get.

Rogers goes to Bond, and Bond says, "Whoa there buddy, I have to report you."

Rogers goes back to Cecil and says, "Hey man, that went really poorly."

At this point, do you think Cecil would try this again?? Surely at that point he would say, "Ok we are out of here."

If that is what happened, can Auburn and Cam be in trouble? If so, what is the violation?

Robert said...

I'm guessing they are not going to let you guys talk to Cam for a while.

Andy Bitter said...

I'd say Cam is available after the game as usual. But I assume he'll see something to the effect of "no comment" and that he can't make any statements about the ongoing NCAA investigation.

Anonymous said...


I'm trying to think of similar incidents in the media; however, while I can't think of any (the Reggie Bush scandal seems a little apples/oranges to this), does it seem the media has jumped from accusation to presumed guilt rather quickly? I haven't heard one person, in the mainstream media, question the credibility and/or intentions of Kenny Rogers in this allegation. Judging by the mainstream media's reaction, you'd think Ghandi brought the accusations, because the response has almost solely been "Does Cam Newton deserve the Heisman now?".

I appreciate your fair analysis of the situation. I only wish you were contagious.

Aubiester said...

I'm just darn sick of all this. Auburn is clean and so is Cam.

CHB said...

I think Cam's lead in the Heisman is big enough that he can afford to lose a few votes. The clown from Fl. said he wasn't voting for him anyway. If he continues to play well and we win he wins.

I got this from another poster on another site.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win".- Ghandi