Cam Newton: ‘I’m a person that did no wrong’

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Roughly two days away from becoming the third player in Auburn history to win the Heisman, Cam Newton sat down for his most extensive interview since the tumult surrounding his recruitment erupted.

As expected, Newton loudly and unequivocally stated his innocence in the pay-for-play scheme the NCAA purports was concocted by his father.

Speaking to ESPN’s Chris Fowler, Newton said that everything he’s done “at this university, I did it the right way.”  While that doesn’t address the time before he signed with Auburn and while he was still being recruited by multiple schools, the Heisman front-runner continued to proclaim that he, himself, was not involved in anything untoward that the NCAA determined was happening without his knowledge.

“I’m a person that did no wrong,” Newton said. “I did it the right way.”

Newton told Fowler he has not directly asked his father about the allegations that Cecil Newton told people connected to Mississippi State it would take more than a scholarship to get his son, including a sum of money upwards of $180,000.  After stating that he knows he “can look him in the eye and know he has my best interests at heart”, the quarterback was asked if he thought his father had done anything wrong during the recruiting process.

His answer might be the most illuminating words he spoke during the entire interview.

“It’s not for me to say but I know if I pick up the phone Cecil will be there,” Newton said.

“My love for him is unconditional. This type of situation can split a family but it makes us stronger.”

All in all, it was an interview that came off as expected.  Newton denied any wrongdoing on his part while not directly throwing his father under the bus.  The opinion you currently hold of Newton likely won’t be swayed one way or the other because of the few minutes he spent with Fowler, but at least he did speak publicly, albeit in a very controlled situation.

Of course, the fact that the beat writers who cover the football program were denied the interview that was handed to the World Wide Leader — again — likely won’t sit well with some, but that’s another story for another day.

North Carolina State dismisses two freshmen, suspends three others

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North Carolina State is the latest to feel the wrath of off-field tumult just ahead of the start of the 2017 season.

The football program announced Tuesday afternoon that two freshmen, wide receiver Antoine Thompson and defensive end Kevince Brown, have been dismissed from Dave Doeren‘s football program.  Additionally, a trio of additional freshmen, linebacker Isaiah Moore, defensive lineman Erin Collins and defensive lineman Xavier Lyas, have been indefinitely suspended by Doeren.  It’s believed those three will miss at least one game apiece.

The disciplinary measures stem from what were described as “violations of the Student Athlete Code of Conduct.”

The discipline also comes a month or so after an investigation into allegations of three separate sexual assaults at one on-campus party was launched.  According to the school, however, the dismissals and suspensions “are not regarding allegations of sexual assault.”

From WNCN-TV in Raleigh:

The five freshman football players were at the on-campus party in a student’s room at Wolf Village where alcohol and marijuana were present, the school said.

Investigators executed search warrants where they looked at cell phones, the residence and reviewed video from campus security cameras.

“We had five freshmen, two of whom have been dismissed, who made poor decisions that don’t align with the values of our program and each has been handled accordingly,” Doeren said in a statement. “Although I’ve disciplined these players for violations of the Student Athlete Code of Conduct, I want to make it clear that I respect due process in the University and legal proceedings. Our players understand that I’m going be firm, but fair when it comes to discipline.”

“The football players who violated the Student Athlete Code of Conduct and Football Team Rules have been disciplined by Coach Doeren, with my full support,” athletic director Debbie Yow said in hers. “Coach Doeren continues to responsibly manage difficult circumstances in an appropriate and forthcoming manner, which is greatly appreciated. Two have been dismissed from the team and are no longer enrolled at NC State, and three others have received suspensions from competition, as well as other discipline. These actions are not regarding allegations of sexual assault. We reserve the right to impose additional sanctions if new violations are discovered.”

All five players were three-star members of NCSU’s 2017 recruiting class.  Only three members of that class were rated higher than Thompson.

Lane Kiffin informally utilizing Art Briles to help FAU offense

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Leave it to Lane Kiffin to leave no stone unturned, regardless of how controversial it may be.

Not long after he was hired as the head coach at Florida Atlantic, Kiffin came under fire after hiring Kendal Briles as his offensive coordinator, especially after a woman alleged in a lawsuit that the assistant coach had contributed to the “culture of sexual violence” at Baylor.  Kiffin subsequently stood by his hiring of Briles, saying that the coordinator was thoroughly vetted by the athletic department before joining the program.

Over the weekend and on into this week, Kiffin opened himself up to additional criticism when both he and Briles confirmed that each of them have turned to Art Briles, ousted as BU’s head football coach in the midst of the sexual assault scandal, for help and advice when it comes to the Owls’ offense.

From the Sun-Sentinel:

Obviously, he has ideas,” Kendal said. “He wants to know personnel and different guys and making sure we’re getting those guys in the right spots and getting them touches and all that stuff. He’s a football coach, that’s all he’s ever been. He’s definitely involved and we talk daily.”

Kendal said he’s sent film to Art before to help with the FAU offense. On Monday, Kiffin said he’s spoken with Art a couple times.

“Obviously, he’s done unbelievable things on offense,” Kiffin said. “It’s his system that he started years and years ago. Every once in a while, I’ll text or call him and bounce something off of him.

The newspaper made sure to note that, per the younger Briles, the elder Briles has not been on the FAU campus.  And, when such a note is necessary, publicly associating yourself with the disgraced head coach in any way, shape of form might not be the best idea.  Then again, for better or worse, Kiffin’s gonna Kiffin, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

Former USC QB Max Browne named the starter at Pitt

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For the third time in four seasons, Pittsburgh will go the graduate transfer route for its starter under center.

Pitt became the latest team the last few days to publicly announce its starting quarterback, confirming Tuesday that Max Browne will get the nod in the opener against FCS Youngstown State.  It has long been expected that Browne would be named the starter, so Tuesday’s Twitter announcement was viewed by many as a mere formality.

Ben DiNucci will serve as Browne’s backup.

A five-star member of USC’s 2013 recruiting class, Browne confirmed months of speculation in early December that he would indeed be transferring from the Trojans.  He later transferred to Pitt after considering North Carolina as well.

Browne began the 2016 season as the starter, but lost his job to Sam Darnold after the Trojans stumbled out of the gate at 1-2. With Darnold under center, USC finished the regular season on an 8-1 run and won their last eight after losing Darnold’s first start by four points to Utah.

Browne spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as Cody Kessler’s primary backup.  In his time with the Trojans, Browne completed 69-of-112 passes for 507 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Browne joins Tom Savage, from Rutgers, and Nathan Peterman, from Tennessee, as grad transfers who have earned starting jobs with the Panthers.

Already suspended after domestic violence arrest, Colorado’s Anthoney Julmisse arrested on felony robbery charges

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Suffice to say, Anthony Julmisse is likely not long for the Colorado football team.

Late last month, Julmisse was arrested on multiple charges related to a domestic incident, including one count each of third-degree assault and domestic violence and two counts of physical harassment.  According to an arrest affidavit, it’s alleged that the cornerback dragged a woman down a hallway and attempted to push her down a flight of stairs.

Fast-forward nearly a month later, and Julmisse, the Boulder Daily Camera reported, was arrested again over the weekend on charges of robbery, first-degree criminal trespass of a vehicle, criminal mischief and careless driving.  The first two charges listed are felonies.

At the time of his first arrest, Julmisse was indefinitely suspended.  In the wake of his second arrest, he’ll remain that way.

“While we’re still gathering information about this latest case, we are concerned to hear of these allegations,” a statement from CU read. “It is important to note that in any criminal case involving a student-athlete, there are three separate processes that can result in discipline — a determination by the coach, court sentencing and sanctions from the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.”

Julmisse played in all 14 games last season.  Exiting spring practice, he was one of the Buffaloes’ starters at cornerback.