What we know about Cecil Newton and the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance

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There are a lot of layers in the Cam Newton controversy — probably more than we realize and some of them, I’m sure, will be revealed with time. Others might drift silently to the bottom of the endless stacks of paper filled with documents, phone statements and the like.

Even more numerous than the layers are the opinions and, oh, boy, there are a lot of those, too.

Seemingly absent, however, from endless tirades and report after report of misconduct, are facts. The question remains: what do we actually know about Newton’s allegations?

One of the layers of the Newton story resides in Newnan, Georgia, where Cecil Newton, Cam’s father, is a pastor at the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance. Aside from the fact that the church name sounds like a cult, there would seem to be nothing spectacular about Cecil’s establishment. That is, until, the New York Times and ESPN made quite a link between the allegations against Cam and recent renovations done to his father’s struggling church. The NYT article reads …

Over the past year, he [Cecil] has struggled with Newnan officials about the condition of his church. The city has threatened to demolish it because it did not comply with building codes. Last week, a local newspaper, The Times-Herald, reported that the church had completed its work and was in compliance.

While ESPN quoted …

“If you’ve ever seen our church, you’d know we don’t have any money,” said Cam Newton’s mother, Jackie. “We have nothing.”

In light of a recent report by ESPN’s Joe Schad that Newton and his father indicated money was involved in the college selection process , the natural question in this layer becomes “Is there a link between Cecil’s recent ability to upgrade his church to the accusations that money was involved with Cam’s college selection?”

Winston Skinner and Elizabeth Melville, who covered the church’s struggles for some time for the Newnan Times-Herald, agree that if there is a link, it wasn’t pursued.

“To my way of thinking, and maybe I’m misjudging what I saw, but it didn’t seem to me that they (the Newnan City Council) were so concerned about the money as they were about the work getting done,” said Skinner. “This is a big project that the city of Newnan has really worked to try to upgrade substandard structures.”

Melville added that the goal of the Newnan City Council was to work with public properties like the Holy Zion church to keep them from being demolished.

In September, 2009, after two extensions were granted by city council, Newton claimed the church would be brought to code “within six months” after being classified as a “new construction”. According to Newnan’s Public Information Officer, Gina Snider, the new code meant that Newton would only have to adhere to three minimum requirements to keep the building from being torn down.

As for the work itself, Melville believed Newton was reportedly in the talks with an unnamed contractor who would do the work for the church Pro Bono, but it appeared that, after some time, that had fallen through due to the poor economy. In addition to four other churches, Cecil also owns a construction company.

Calls made to the Holy Zion church were met with error messages that the line had been disconnected.

So, what does all of this mean?

First of all, it doesn’t tell us directly that Cecil Newton was able to renovate his church using any alleged payments from his son’s recruitment. On the flip side, though, it doesn’t tell us that he didn’t, either. Often in a developing story such as this, when there’s smoke, there’s fire and there’s been an awful lot of smoke surrounding Cam Newton and his father.

I’m not saying anyone’s guilty, but there is, at least, a reasonable suspicion when you consider Newton’s troubled past and the complexity of the allegations.

Texas QB Shane Buechele undergoes hip surgery, expected back for spring practice

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A postseason injury has forced Shane Buechele to undergo an offseason medical procedure.

Buechele suffered a torn abductor muscle in his hip/abdomen in the first half of Texas’ Texas Bowl win over Missouri and didn’t return in the second half.  Nearly a month later, the football program has announced that the quarterback will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair the damage.

If rehab goes as planned, Buechele is expected to be on the field when the Longhorns kick off spring practice March 5.

As a true freshman in 2016, Buechele started all 12 games for the Longhorns.  This past season was one marred by various injuries.

Buechele started the season opener for Texas, but ceded the job to Sam Ehlinger the next two games because of a bruised throwing shoulder.  Returning to the starting lineup in Week 5, Buechele suffered an ankle injury in the win over Iowa State that allowed Ehlinger to start the next three games.  In the last of those three games, Ehlinger suffered a head injury that left him in concussion protocol and opened the door for Buechele to start five of the last six games of the season.

Buechele and Ehlinger will be the two veterans battling for the starting job once spring practice kicks off in March.

NCAA tables discussions on limiting staff size

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It is going to take some more time to dive deep into the pros and cons of limiting the size of a football staff before the NCAA Division 1 Council decides what to do. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Division 1 Council has decided to table a legislative proposal focusing on setting parameters on the size of a football staff, meaning this topic should pop up again a year from now.

The proposal aims to cap the size of any football staff at 30 people and determine who may be eligible to participate in on-campus recruiting efforts. Those assigned recruiting duties, including head and assistant coaches, would then be required to pass an annual test on recruiting practices. At this time, however, there appears to be too much confusion and uncertainty about how the proposal would impact programs now. With so many questions about the proposal, it was best to put this one on the table and spend the next year examining how it could impact college football programs.

“I went to the American Football Coaches Association meeting, and there were a lot of questions about how this was going to work,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the chair of the oversight committee, said in a release shared by the NCAA. “The coaches wanted to know who was going to be included, how they would be certified and who was exempted.”

This topic has already been floating out there since last spring, and with recent adjustments from the NCAA to allow for a 10th full-time assistant coach, it appears this will be the next step in the evolution of ruling how large a football staff can be.

Miami’s home winning streak is officially over after Orange Bowl loss

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The Miami Hurricanes opened the new year with a loss in the Orange Bowl in their home stadium, but the Hurricanes marked the bowl game down in their records as a neutral site game. Not so fast, says the NCAA. That loss to the Badgers will go down as a home loss for the Hurricanes.

Because the NCAA officially records the Orange Bowl as a home game for Miami any time the Hurricanes happen to play in the bowl game hosted in their home stadium, the wins and losses are reflected on Miami’s home record. This is true for any team playing a bowl game in their home stadium, including any time UCLA appears in the Rose Bowl or San Diego State in the Holiday Bowl or Poinsettia Bowl.

Prior to losing to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl this past season, Miami was riding nine-game winning streak in Hard Rock Stadium dating back to November 5, 2016. Miami will get a chance to hit the reset button on their home winning streak on September 8 with a home game against Savannah State.

Report: LSU to add former RB Kevin Faulk to staff if SEC gives the green light

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Former LSU running back Kevin Faulk could be set to return to the Tigers program in a new role if the SEC will allow it. According to a report from The Advocate, Faulk is being lined up to join the LSU football support staff, but his addition must be thoroughly vetted first.

Because Faulk is a high school coach, LSU and the SEC must be certain he has no direct ties to any LSU football players on the roster. This is to ensure the staff change complies with a new NCAA rule prohibiting schools from hiring high school coaches for a two-year period when any player from that associated high school enrolls at the university. As long as there are no players on LSU’s roster with any ties to Faulk’s high school coaching within the past two years, the staff change should become official.

Having Faulk associated with the program would be good to see considering how much Faulk meant to LSU during his college career. Faulk rushed for a school-record 4,557 yards and 46 rushing touchdowns. Both are records that stand today despite some extremely talented running backs over the years. Since Faulk’s final season at LSU in 1998, Leonard Fournette has come the closest to Faulk’s career rushing total with 3,830 yards in three years. Fournette is also the closest to Faulk since Faulk played to the school record for career rushing touchdowns, with 40.

Supposing the staff addition does go through, Faulk will not be involved with any off-campus recruiting efforts or on-field coaching assignments, but he will assist with player development.