Report accuses Cam Newton of academic cheating while at Florida

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Well, it’s all but official now.  Someone is in the midst of a massive behind-the-scenes tear-down project of what Cam Newton’s built over the first ten games of the 2010 season.

Fresh on the heels of a report alleging a six-figure payment was being sought for his services before landing at Auburn, there’s yet another report that casts the Heisman frontrunner in a negative light.

According to Thayer Evans of FOX Sports.com, and citing an unnamed source, there were three different instances of academic cheating by Newton while at the University of Florida.  That, not the laptop incident or Tim Tebow deciding to stick around for his senior season, led Newton to leave the Gainesville school early in December of 2009 and make his way to a Texas junior college.

Newton was arrested for the theft of a laptop from a Florida student’s dorm room in November 2008. He again violated the university’s honor code by putting his name on another student’s paper and turning it in, according to the source. Newton was caught after the instructor asked the real author of the paper why he had not turned in his work, the source said.

According to the source, after the student said he had turned in a paper, he and the instructor went through all the submissions and discovered that Newton had put his name on the paper in question.

Newton subsequently turned in a second paper to the instructor, but it was later found to have been purchased off the Internet, according to the source. The source said Newton was to appear for a hearing in front of Florida’s Student Conduct Committee during the spring semester of 2009, but instead transferred to Blinn College.

Evans, who was one of several national writers to come out recently with a “Don’t vote for Cam for the Heisman” platform, also reports that Newton wasn’t even enrolled at UF when he decided to transfer.  Newton’s father didn’t exactly help his son’s case in this latest imbroglio.

“I wasn’t there,” the elder Newton said. “I cannot confirm or deny. At a time like this, I’m taking a defensive posture.”

Unlike the rumors and speculation surrounding his recruitment, which is still under investigation by the NCAA, the accusations of academic cheating will have no impact on his eligibility at Auburn.

What it does, however, is bring up a couple of questions that need to be asked but will be almost impossible to answer.  Why is this coming out now, nearly a full year after Newton decided to attend Auburn and ten games into a season that could end with a national title for the Tigers?  Perhaps more importantly, who is responsible for it?

It was rumored that Urban Meyer was the impetus behind the first set of allegations coming to light.  These latest accusations seem to point squarely at someone in Gainesville pulling the strings of the media on one whale of a payback/screw job.

Based on emails from a couple of media types this morning, the latest speculation being churned out by the rumor mill, and again this is merely the underbelly of the college football world speculating here, is that Meyer and/or someone associated with the Florida program is pushing this issue in an attempt to get Newton declared ineligible before the SEC title game.  Why?  The Gators have a play-in game with South Carolina this weekend that would give them the SEC East title, while Auburn would represent the West with a win over Alabama.  Obviously, a Newton-less Tigers team would be a much easier path for the Gators to an SEC title and the subsequent automatic BcS berth that would come with it.

Again, this is all just speculation and this is a rumor mill, but…

Move over, Phillip Fulmer.  You may have some competition for the inaugural class of the SEC Snitch Hall of Fame.

UPDATED 11:06 a.m. ET: Meyer has emphatically denied being involved in the Newton situation. “It’s a ridiculous claim and simply not true,” Meyer said late this morning.

Pair of Alabama defenders undergo surgery after Tide’s spring game

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Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.

Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.

The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.

Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.

SEC commissioner hints at review of rules regarding alcohol sales in football stadiums

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The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.

From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”

While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.

“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.

“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”

It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.

QB Malik Zaire reportedly sets timetable for transfer decision while adding Harvard to the mix

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While we don’t yet know where former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is transferring to, we might have an idea of when he plans on making a move this offseason.

Per Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the signal-caller has zeroed in on the end of May for an announcement on his new school in a timetable that coincides with the Irish’s graduation ceremonies. Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that there may also be a new school in the mix and it’s known for being a powerhouse of a different kind away from the gridiron.

“In addition, I was told a new school is in the mix. Zaire is still considering Texas, Wisconsin and Florida, and the grad transfer quarterback has added Harvard to his short list. It remains unclear how serious Zaire is about playing Ivy League football. If he does go that route, Harvard would be his landing spot.”

The Ivy League power is an interesting new destination for Zaire and could be a pretty good backup option given what’s going on at his other finalists.

While Texas and Wisconsin are both on his shortlist, both the Longhorns and Badgers return their starting quarterbacks from last season in Shane Buechele and Alex Hornibrook. Richardson reports that Zaire wants to start in 2017 and not hold a clipboard but he is still keeping his options opens when it comes to the thin depth charts at the position in both Austin and Madison.

Complicating things is Florida, which should be a prime landing spot for Zaire were it not for an SEC rule passed last year that is preventing him from transferring him there this offseason. The league is set to talk about changes to that rule at their spring meetings in Destin, Fla. but it remains unclear if the QB will wait and see before making a decision (and it’s entirely possible the SEC keeps things as they are).

Either way, the former Irish starter does not appear to be lacking options when it comes to the graduate transfer market.

Tennessee hires College Football Playoff CFO for administrative role

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Tennessee might not be a favorite to make the College Football Playoff in 2017 but the school is doing their best to bring a little bit of the sport’s postseason to Knoxville.

Athletic director John Currie announced on Tuesday that the Vols would be hiring the College Football Playoff’s Chief Financial Officer Reid Sigmon as Tennessee’s new Executive Associate Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer. The hire isn’t too surprising considering the two worked together for several years at Kansas State in very similar roles.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Reid Sigmon to the Tennessee Athletics family,” Currie said in a statement. “He has earned national credibility as part of a visionary leadership group creating the College Football Playoff organization for the last four years, and his tremendous integrity and understanding of college athletics make him a perfect addition to our Tennessee leadership team.”

Sigmon served in a variety of roles in college athletics as well as the NFL before eventually landing with the College Football Playoff. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he starts at Tennessee on May 15 with a salary of $285,000 per year.