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.

Cal handles Hawaii in Down Under opener

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 27:  Davis Webb #7 of the California Golden Bears signals to a team mate during the College Football Sydney Cup match between University of California and University of Hawaii at ANZ Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)
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The 2016 college football season started with… an onside kick. In his first game as Hawaii’s head coach, Nick Rolovich opened with a surprise, which Cal’s Patrick Laird alertly covered. Khalfani Muhammad raced in from 34 yards out just six plays later, and it was off to the races for the Bears.

Hawaii fought back to tie the game at 7-7 and again at 14-14 late in the first quarter, but the Bears closed the first half on a 20-0 run, keyed by a pair of Davis Webb touchdown tosses, to put the game away en route to a 51-31 win. Hawaii never pulled closer than 17 points in the second half.

Played at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, the game was the first-ever college contest played in Australia.

Webb dazzled in his Bears debut, hitting 38-of-54 throws for 441 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Chad Hansen was his top target, collecting 14 grabs for 160 yards and two of those scores. Muhammad, meanwhile, led the Bears’ ground game with 10 carries for 96 yards and a score.

Ikaika Woolsey led Hawaii with 234 passing yards and one touchdown.

Overall, Cal achieved 630 yards of total offense (30 first downs) on 7.1 yards per play, while allowing Hawaii to gain 6.7 yards per play and 482 total yards.

Cal takes next week off before a date with San Diego State, while Hawaii must turn around and prepare for a road trip to No. 7 Michigan on Saturday.

East Carolina DL booted after animal cruelty arrest

GREENVILLE, NC - SEPTEMBER 05:  A general view of the Appalachian State Mountaineers versus the East Carolina Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Greenville, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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East Carolina has dismissed defensive lineman Darius Commissiong following an arrest for animal cruelty, the program announced Friday.

A Facebook post from the Greenville (N.C.) police department say they responded to a call at an apartment 2 a.m. Friday after a report of a disturbance. They entered the home to find a one-year-old Shih Tzu deceased inside the residence.

According to the department’s Facebook post, the dog suffered “multiple hemorrhages to the skin and body,” three cracked ribs, a collapsed lung, hemorrhaging in the abdomen, left eye and brain, a liver “torn into pieces,” several fractured teeth and a complete fracture in the right hind leg. Witnesses pegged Commissiong as the perpetrator, and the 21-year-old was arrested on a felony charge of animal cruelty. He is held on a $25,000 bond.

 

“While we always want to be in a position to guide young people, unacceptable behavior such as this clearly crosses the line of humanity and simply will not be tolerated,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said in a statement. “There’s a level of accountability which defines our program, athletics department and East Carolina University, and any conduct which isn’t congruent with those values is unwelcome here.”

Commissioing’s arrest comes shortly on the heals of the surfacing of a video showing Baylor wide receiver Ish Zamora beating and kicking a dog, which was recorded earlier this summer. Zamora was not arrested and remains on Baylor’s roster.

Commissiong played in 10 games last season for the Pirates, collecting 10 tackles. He was a projected started along East Carolina’s defensive front before today’s dismissal.

Ahmad Bradshaw reverses course, set to start at QB for Army

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 13:  Head coach Jeff Monken of the Army Black Knights calls a timeout during the second half of their 17-10 loss to the Navy Midshipmen at M&T Bank Stadium on December 13, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Remember when Ahmad Bradshaw (not the former Giants and Colts running back) was set to leave West Point? Bradshaw changed his mind, and now he’s set to be the Black Knights’ starting quarterback.

Head coach Jeff Monken told the Times Herald-Record that Bradshaw was “likely” to start, but that both he and sophomore Chris Carter could see action.

Carter sustained a hamstring injury Aug. 1 and didn’t return to the practice field until Aug. 17.

“He’s (Bradshaw) so far ahead in the repetitions that he has taken,” Monken told the paper. “It’s hard when you miss the first couple weeks of camp. There’s 14 or 15 practices that you are standing there watching the other guys getting all of the reps.”

Bradshaw led Army last season with 429 passing yards and led Black Knights quarterbacks with 468 rushing yards last fall. Carter garnered a start against Navy last season and hit 9-of-15 passes for 208 yards with a touchdown and an interception in Army’s 21-17 loss.

“He’ll (Carter) come around and the more that he practices, the better he’s going to get and the more prepared he’s going to be,” Monken said. “That’s when I think we’ll see the battle and who the guy is that’s got to continue. Once you get playing, it’s hard to beat out the starter because he’s got more experience and has played more. I think Ahmad has handled it well.”

Army opens the season next Friday at Temple.

Montana State transfer Dakota Prukop officially named Oregon starting QB

EUGENE, OR -SEPTEMBER 06: A general view of Autzen Stadium during the second quarter of the game between the Oregon Ducks and the Michigan State Spartans at Autzen Stadium on September 6, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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As if there was any doubt, Dakota Prukop will start at quarterback for Oregon this year.

The Montana State transfer arrived in Eugene with the starting role as an understanding, but it was formally confirmed when the Ducks unveiled their depth chart Friday. He’ll start ahead of true freshman Justin Herbert.

Prukop will be the second straight FCS transfer to walk into a starting role at Oregon. Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams led the nation in passing efficiency in 10 games last season, hitting 65 percent of his throws for a national-best 10.2 yards per attempt with 26 touchdowns against six picks.

He was the second straight Duck signal caller to lead the nation in passing efficiency, following Marcus Mariota‘s Heisman campaign of 2014.

A native of Austin, Texas, Prukop earned First Team FCS All-America by the Associated Press last season and accumulated 7,347 yards of total offense and 70 total touchdowns.

No. 24 Oregon opens its season next Saturday against UC Davis (5 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks).