This Cam Newton situation has officially gotten as ugly as it can get. Until we wake up in the morning, of course.
While there have been numerous reports over the past several days that have cast aspersions on both Newton and his father, the latest from ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad is perhaps the most damning and damaging to both the player and potentially his current football program.
According to Schad, two sources who recruit for Mississippi State have revealed that the Auburn quarterback and his father Cecil admitted during phone conversations late last year that a pay-for-play plan was in place during Newton’s recruitment last year.
Prior to Newton’s commitment to Auburn, one of the recruiters said Cecil Newton told him it would take “more than a scholarship” to bring his son to Mississippi State, a request the source said the school would not meet. Cecil Newton also referred the recruiter to a third person that would provide more specifics, the source said.
After Newton committed to Auburn, another source said an emotional Cam Newton phoned another recruiter to express regret about his change of commitment from Mississippi State, stating that his father Cecil had chosen Auburn for him because “the money was too much.”
That last line could very well be a significant punch to the gut — or an area a couple feet south — as it heavily intimates that, in essence, Newton’s decision to attend Auburn was bought and paid for by unknown elements that were presumably associated with the school. Or, does it intimate that “the money situation involving MSU was too much to deal with”? Or, could it mean something else entirely? Given how this whole bizarre situation has played out, it’s rather appropriate that the “money quote” in the article is up for debate.
The report went on to state that, after the alleged conversations with the Newtons, MSU compliance officials turned over information, including the alleged phone calls, to their counterparts in the SEC compliance office in January. It had previously been reported by ESPN.com that former MSU quarterback John Bond was allegedly solicited by a middleman late last year who said he represented Newton’s family and that “it would take some cash to get Cam.” Bond said he took that information to the school, which sent it along to the SEC offices. The NCAA has been investigating the allegations since earlier this year.
Cecil Newton has denied being involved in any type of pay-to-play scheme involving his son on several occasions, but did not respond to Schad’s email request for a comment on this latest development.
Auburn, specifically athletic director Jay Jacobs and head coach Gene Chizik, spent most of the day Tuesday vigorously defending the Heisman frontrunner and triggerman for an offense that has the Tigers three wins away from a national title game appearance. Based on the news that broke Tuesday night, another round of denials will be in order for Wednesday as well.
One final thought, this one on the fact that two Mississippi State recruiters are the sources for this latest report: MSU had better ensure that all of their i’s are dotted and t’s crossed because, in the free-for-all world that is SEC recruiting, you can be assured that at least one school will do their due diligence and civic obligation in reporting any and all rumors/innuendo/speculation that they’ve kept tucked in their back pocket regarding any bent rules that may litter MSU’s recruiting trail.
Yes, this could definitely get uglier, and not just for Newton.