FBI sniffing around Cam Newton situation

19 Comments

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.

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/33399756″ width=”420″ height=”245″ fvars=”launch=40097331&width=420&height=245″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowFullScreen=”true” wmode=”transparent” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” pluginspage=”http://www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/download.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash”/%5D

Report: Steve Spurrier Jr. leaving WKU for job at Wazzu

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With coaching holes throughout his Washington State staff to fill thanks to significant offseason poaching, Mike Leach has added a very famous college football surname.  Reportedly.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Steve Spurrier Jr. is leaving Western Kentucky to take a job under Leach at Wazzu.  The son of College Football Hall of Famer Steve Spurrier just completed his first season as the Hilltoppers’ quarterbacks coach.  He also held the title of assistant head coach under Mike Sanford.

It’s unclear what specific title Spurrier Jr. will hold at Wazzu.

Prior to his one season at WKU, and one season as an off-field staffer at Oklahoma, Spurrier Jr. had been an assistant on his father’s South Carolina staff for 11 seasons.  During his time with the Gamecocks, he served at various points as wide receivers coach (2005-15), passing-game coordinator (2009-11) and co-offensive coordinator (2012-15).

Spurrier Jr., who played wide receiver at Duke, has also spent time during his coaching career as receivers coach at Oklahoma (1999-2001) and with the Washington Redskins (2002-03).

Ex-Texas All-Big 12 defensive tackle takes DL coaching job at Baylor

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Baylor’s latest coaching addition is a very familiar name in the state of Texas.

BU confirmed Wednesday evening that Frank Okam has been added to Matt Rhule‘s coaching staff.  Okam, who was a Freshman All-American and two-time All-Big 12 defensive tackle at Texas from 2004-07, will coach the Bears’ defensive line.

“Frank is a living embodiment of everything the young men in our program should want to accomplish,” the head coach said in a statement. “He’s a college graduate, an All-American, a Big 12 champion, a national champion, a NFL draft pick and then he continued life after football earning his master’s degree from Rice and is now one of the top young football coaches in the country.

“We are excited to have Coach Okam on staff and for him to mentor our defensive line group and help take them to the next level.”

The 32-year-old Okam, who went to high school in Dallas, spent the past four seasons at Rice, the last two as the Owls’ line coach.  This will mark Okam’s first coaching job at a Power Five program.

Longtime ESPN play-by-play man Mike Patrick announces retirement

Getty Images
2 Comments

ESPN’s roster of college football play-by-play announcers suffered a high number of attrition of late. Brent Musburger retired. Brad Nessler replaced Verne Lundquist at CBS. Sean McDonough moved to Monday Night Football. Now the dean of ESPN’s Saturday voices is going away, too.

Mike Patrick announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a 32-year run that began in 1982, three years after the network launched.

“It’s wonderful to reflect on how I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” Patrick said. “At the same time, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with some of the very best people I’ve ever known, both on the air and behind the scenes. While I’m not sure exactly what’s next for me, I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with new life experiences.”

His biggest assignment came as the voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Football from 1987 until the package moved to NBC after the 2005 season, but outside of that he was one of the Worldwide Leader’s leading college sports voices. He was the lead voice on the network’s ACC basketball package, he called the Women’s Final Four for a decade and a half, and he was a leading voice on the College World Series and served as the play-by-play man for ESPN’s Thursday night and Saturday night packages, before ESPN turned its Saturday primetime window into the top package owned by the network.

You may remember this moment.

ESPN will say goodbye to Patrick through a pre-recorded tribute voiced by Rece Davis airing throughout the day on SportsCenter and a tribute during the network’s coverage of the Louisville vs. Duke basketball game tonight (9 p.m. ET).

Heisman winner Chris Weinke hired as Tennessee’s running backs coach

Getty Images
6 Comments

It can be argued that the only reason Tennessee has a national championship is because of Chris Weinke. As we know, the Vols claimed the 1998 national championship by defeating Florida State in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, the first national championship game of the BCS era. Tennessee won that game, 23-16, thanks in large part to a pick-six thrown by Marcus Outzen, a third-string quarterback forced into action due to an injury by the two signal callers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Here’s how a Sports Illustrated article described Weinke and that FSU team in its 1999 preview issue:

Don’t think of 1999 as a new season for Florida State, think of it as the resumption of an old one. Before quarterback Chris Weinke was dumped on his head and suffered a season-ending ruptured disk in his neck in a 45-14 win over Virginia last Nov. 7, no team in the country was playing better than the Seminoles, who had bounced back from an early-season defeat at North Carolina State. So how cruel was this? Upset losses suffered by Ohio State, UCLA and Kansas State sent 11-1 Florida State to the national title game in the Fiesta Bowl, but without its best quarterback. The Seminoles and backup signal-caller Marcus Outzen struggled on offense and lost to Tennessee.

Nevertheless, Tennessee won that season’s title, Weinke would lead Florida State to the 1999 national title and take the Heisman Trophy a year after that. The past is the past.

But now the past is the present, as the former Florida State quarterback on Wednesday was announced as Tennessee’s running backs coach.

“I’m excited to have Chris Weinke on our staff to coach running backs,” Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt said in a statement. “He has played the game at the highest level and what he has accomplished on the field speaks for itself. He is also an outstanding coach and teacher of the game, coaching in the NFL, in college this past season and at the high school level. He has a great eye for talent and knows the game on the offensive side of the ball as well as anybody I’ve been around. He will be a great fit for our Tennessee program.”

Weinke entered the NFL as a 26-year-old and lasted seven seasons with the Panthers and 49ers before moving into coaching. He first worked as a trainer at IMG Academy, then moved onto coaching the high school program, where he went 19-2 as head coach and offensive coordinator. From there he deposited a stint as the Los Angeles Rams’ quarterbacks coach before spending the 2017 season as an offensive analyst at Alabama, where he hooked up with Pruitt.

Weinke will be charged with re-building the Vols’ backfield after losing John Kelly to an early entry into the NFL draft. Rising sophomore Ty Chandler is Tennessee’s leading returning rusher, carrying 71 times for 305 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.