Report: Newton’s dad chose Auburn for him because ‘the money was too much’

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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.

Iowa LB Aaron Mends to miss extended time with injury

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Talk about a hard-luck story.

After never starting a game at Iowa, Aaron Mends (pictured, blocking punt) had earned a starting job at outside linebacker during practice this spring.  With football being the cruel mistress that it can be at times, the Hawkeyes announced Friday night that Mends “will miss an extended period of time due to injury.” The program offered no details as to the specific nature of the injury, although it’s believed to involve the knee.

According to the school’s release, the fifth-year senior suffered the injury during the final week of Iowa’s spring drills.

Mends was a three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class.  He was the highest-rated linebacker in Iowa’s class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Mends has played in 38 games the past three seasons.  A baker’s dozen of those appearances came during the 2017 season.

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.