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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Report: North Texas adds FCS running back transfer

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North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.

Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.

Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.

As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.

Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger signs extension, vows to fix football

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Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.

Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.

“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”

Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.

David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.

Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:

Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”

“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”

The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.

Alleged victim of Tennessee WR Josh Smith threatens $3 million civil suit

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Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.

According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.

“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’

“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.

The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.

How some college football teams are recognizing Memorial Day on Twitter

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It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.

If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.