FBI sniffing around Cam Newton situation

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The bizarre case of Cam Newton‘s post-Florida recruitment has taken yet another odd turn as it’s being reported that a federal agency has taken an interest in the situation.

According to TMZ.com, the FBI has requested a meeting with John Bond, the former Mississippi State quarterback who was allegedly solicited by a middleman claiming to represent the Newton family and seeking upwards of $200,000 for Newton’s signature on a letter of intent.  Bond took the solicitation to the higher-ups at MSU, who then turned the information over to the NCAA, which subsequently launched an investigation a little less than a year ago.

Bond’s attorney confirmed to TMZ that the FBI has requested a sit-down meeting with his client.  According to the attorney, the FBI agent said “we are interested in whether young men are being shopped to colleges.”

If the FBI is interested in speaking to Bond, it would then stand to reason they would also want to speak to his former MSU teammate Kenny Rogers.  Rogers is reportedly the middleman who allegedly made it known to Bond — maybe not directly, however — that Newton’s talents were available for a low six-figure sum of money.

The accusations of Newton’s football skills being for sale was the first of two “scandals” to hit the Auburn quarterback and Heisman frontrunner in less than a week.  Earlier today, FOX Sports.com, citing a single unnamed source, reported three instances of academic cheating were committed by Newton while he was at Florida in 2008, and that he was facing expulsion before deciding to transfer from the Gainesville school to a Texas junior college in early 2009.

The five days of reports have taken their toll on a reputation Newton has steadily rebuilt since being charged with buying a stolen laptop in 2008.  It’s also taken its toll on Newton’s head coach, who was at a Mike Gundy-level of pissed off at his press conference this afternoon.

I’m trying to defend something that is quite frankly garbage,” Chizik said, before really starting to roll.

“Is there a wizard behind the curtain? I don’t know. Is there one, is there two, are there 10? I don’t know and I don’t care. But what I do care about is coming to the defense of not only a great football player but a great human being who comes from a great family.

“Now if you really want to do your homework, go and start with his Little League coach, then go to his junior high coach, then go to his high school coach, then go to his junior college coach and then come talk to any coach at Auburn. And you’re all going to hear the same thing. So this is a waste of my time, but I’m going to address it because I’m defending a young man who deserves it.”

Newton was a little — OK, a lot — less emotional in his response to the latest round of allegations.  In fact, he seemed to simply shrug them off with a wave and a smile that seemed to say “when God be blessin’, the devil be messin’“.

“Am I hurt? No. Am I curious? A little bit,” Newton said. “But it really doesn’t bother me that much. I’m a blessed individual. …

“I’m not here to bash anyone. I’m here to go to school and win football games at Auburn. My sole focus right now is to win this football game coming up on Saturday.”

Who knows if there is any truth and to what degree these myriad reports hold — and Lord knows Newton is far from sainthood — but it’s a sad indictment of the whole ugly mess that it’s the accused who’s taken the high road, while adults all around him have chosen to step straight into the gutter.

UPDATED 7:22 p.m. ET: Courtesy of our friends at NBC Sports.com, here’s video of Chizik’s emotional defense of Newton.

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Iowa struggling to sellout game vs. Penn State

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The Iowa Hawkeyes are about to host a top-four team at Kinnick Stadium this Saturday night, and it seems there is slightly more trouble trying to sell out the game than anticipated. According to Mark Emmert of the Des Moines Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen (and not the NCAA president by the same name), Iowa still had 4,000 tickets for this week’s game against No. 4 Penn State sitting in the box office as of earlier today.

Price concerns for the game coupled with a delay in knowing the kickoff time apparently had some influence on the unexpected ticket availability this close to the game.

Schools are becoming more and more commonly known for having higher-priced tickets for the more marquee games on their home schedule, and Iowa is no exception. Iowa has tiered ticket pricing for their home games, and Penn State being the defending conference champion with a decent traveling fanbase made this week’s matchup an ideal fit for being priced in the higher tier. Later this year, Iowa’s home game against Ohio State will also be priced at $95. $95, for some, is not worth the effort to go to a game and tailgate all day. It may be fine for a good number of fans, but it’s not for everybody.

Having to wait to know what time a game will kickoff can be a nuisance for those football fans who like to plan ahead. And while a primetime game may be great for exposure, it can be a cumbersome chore for some fans who would much rather stay home and not have to deal with a late-night drive home.

So if you are looking to get a ticket to the game this weekend in Iowa City, you may have a good chance to pick up a ticket.

Indiana will wear uniforms honoring the late Terry Hoeppner this weekend

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This weekend when Indiana takes the field, the Hoosiers will be honoring former head coach Terry Hoeppner. To do that on the 10th anniversary of the former coach’s passing, Indiana’s uniforms will have a slight modification to the numbering. Rather than a traditional white block numbering on the front and back, Indiana’s uniform numbers will feature a pattern mimicking Hep’s Rock, which was introduced to the program by the former head coach and remains a fixture within the program.

Hoeppner passed away at the age of 59 in the summer of June 2007. Hoeppner had planned to step away from coaching to focus on a battle with brain cancer that summer, but he fell victim to the disease on June 19, 2007. Though he may have only coached for Indiana for two seasons, his impact on the program was noticeable in helping the program build a foundation. The Hoosiers won four and five games in the two seasons coached by Hoeppner, but the 2007 team carried on his mission to “Play 13” by advancing to the Insight Bowl (now known as the Cactus Bowl). Members of the 2007 bowl team (Indiana lost to Oklahoma State in that bowl game) will be in Bloomington to celebrate the life of Hoeppner, who remains an inspiration for the program to this day.

Houston expects WR D’Eriq King to be available for Texas Tech game

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As Houston prepares for a game that could quickly become a shootout of sorts with Texas Tech, the Cougars could have one more wide receiver good to go this weekend. D’Eriq King is expected to make his season debut for the Cougars this week after missing the past two games coming off an offseason knee injury.

Houston head coach Major Applewhite announced on the radio he feels his young wide receiver option is finally ready to get back at it, and it could come at no better time.

As a freshman in 2016, King caught 20 passes in 10 games for 228 yards and a touchdown. King was expected to be a contributor to the offense this season. Having a healthy receiver is going to be key against a Texas Tech offense that will not shy away from the pass.

Derrius Guice ‘very questionable’ for LSU vs. Syracuse

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LSU could very well be without its most potent offensive weapon when it looks to bounce back from an embarrassing Week 3 loss.

Late in the third quarter of Saturday’s 37-7 loss to Mississippi State, Derrius Guice sustained an injury to his left knee.  The star running back hasn’t practiced at all this week, even as Ed Orgeron downplayed the severity of the injury.

On the SEC teleconference Wednesday, however, the head coach acknowledged that it could be much worse than he’d been letting on, so much so that the Guice could miss the Week 4 game against Syracuse.

“I don’t know if Derrius is going to play,” Orgeron said. “He didn’t dress out yesterday in pads. He’s very questionable right now.”

Through three games, Guice leads the Tigers with 300 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with four rushing touchdowns.  His rushing yards are currently fourth in the SEC; last season, his 1,387 yards were tops in the conference.

Should Guice be unable to go, Darrel Williams (28-159-4) would likely be next in line to shoulder the running-game load.