This is getting out of hand rather quickly. As I am sure you have heard by now, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, or his handlers, have been accused of demanding money in return for his commitment to play football for Mississippi State. Mississippi State reported this incident to the NCAA back in January but the NCAA was not moving fast enough for them so they decided to turn to the media. Dirty, very dirty and to me as an outsider, this looks more like revenge from Dan Mullen than an NCAA violation.
Dan Mullen was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida when Cam Newton was a freshman. In 2008, when Mullen got the call for the head coaching position, he and Cam agreed that Cam would follow him to Mississippi State the following season. However things got dicey and Newton got arrested for burglary, larceny and obstruction of justice after allegedly purchasing a stolen laptop from a student at the University of Florida. That, along with the fact that Tebow had declared he would be back for his senior season, led Newton to transfer to Blinn Junior College. Left in the dust was Dan Mullen who would be traveling to Mississippi State by himself.
Fast forward two years and you have Cam Newton back in the SEC after leading his JUCO to a national championship. You have a quarterback in the SEC that is dazzling and delivers an outstanding performance, week in and week out. You have a hopeful (probable) Heisman winner and a quarterback leading his undefeated team to what could be the national championship. That is one side of the fast forwarding. The other side is a dejected coach. There is a coach that is coaching a football team in the same conference as his former coveted quarterback plays in. There is a coach that is seeing the success of Cam Newton and the Auburn football team and is realizing that it should be him and Mississippi State getting all the publicity and lofty rankings. Dare I say that Dan Mullen might be a little jealous?
Initially, the alleged violations were reported to the NCAA several months ago but it was only after ESPN broke the story that the news made national headlines. ESPN’s source for the story was a former quarterback named John Bond. Bond told ESPN that a former teammate, Kenny Rogers (not the Gambler), solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars in return for Newton to sign a letter of intent. The funny thing about that? It doesn’t prove any wrong doing because the two men named in the allegations, Bond and Rogers, have no official ties to MSU. So after further questioning, Bond revealed that there were “two other people between him and Rogers” during he negotiations. The two other people were sited as two sources who recruit for MSU. There is your connection to MSU officials that would make it a violation. These two officials are not just recruiters either, they are coaches for MSU under…ta-daa…Dan Mullen. Mullen himself told reporters that all of his recruiters were coaches.
For 11 months now, the NCAA has known about the alledged phone coversations between the two officials and Cam and his father. How did they know? The two officials informed the compliance office of the violation in January! To keep you up to speed, the two coaches are the ones who initially started this whole scandal. After waiting for 11 months while the NCAA sat on it’s collective thumbs and while Newton was thrashing opponents weekly, they leaked their story to the press, but did it in a rather clever way.
Think about everything you just read. A person, not affiliated with the college, leaked the story about one of his former teammates facilitating conversations about Newton getting paid to play at MSU. Once questioned more, he admitted there were two other “MSU officials” involved. Once that tidbit was received by ESPN, they had the green light to expose MSU. By doing this, the entire scandal went public without Mississippi State being the ones that started the finger pointing. Bravo, MSU, you may be the smartest team in the SEC.
All of this may prove to be true and Cam Newton and his father could have potentially just ended his college career. Perhaps the Newton’s did ask for money and perhaps Auburn paid top dollar for the services of the quarterback. If it is all true then send him to the cleaners. The right thing to do, MSU, would have been to allow the NCAA to process it’s own investigation without national scrutiny. Let them find out if Newton is in violation. By going to the media, they have essentially put his Heisman hopes in jeopardy. After the Reggie Bush debacle there aren’t too many people that want to see the trophy given back again. This is a serious accusation and one that will stick with this young man throughout the rest of his life, regardless if he is found to be in compliance. It is basically like Ben Roethlisberger. He has been accused of sexual misconduct and found not guilty, but how many people see it that way?
So, is there enough evidence to prove Cam Newton broke recruiting rules or is this a ruthless attempt by Dan Mullen and his staff to get revenge on a young man who simply changed his mind?
Only time will tell.