SEC Championship - Auburn v South Carolina

Radio host claims Auburn, Vols offered $’s to Cecil Newton

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Over the past week or so, an Alabama radio host named Scott Moore has been making the radio rounds claiming he’s heard audio tapes of Cecil Newton discussing financial offers he’d received from schools for Cam Newton‘s signature on a Letter of Intent. Most damning — and potentially damaging to Cam’s now-former school — is Moore’s claim that the former Auburn quarterback was present for one of these purported conversations, which of course would severely undercut his claim that he had no idea what his father was doing behind the scenes during his recruitment while also calling into question the NCAA’s ruling that allowed him to regain his eligibility.

We’ve been very leery of Moore’s claims, mainly due to his lean toward a certain school in Tuscaloosa, and have thus shied away from going into any great detail in this space regarding his accusations. However, the sounds of those accusations have grown too loud, too thunderous and, most of all, too damning to continue to completely ignore.

Appearing on 104.5 the Zone in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday afternoon, Moore reiterated his claims that both Tennessee and, yes, Auburn offered a significant amount of money to Cecil Newton in an attempt to lure Cam Newton to their respective schools. Specifically, Moore claims that the audio tapes he heard has Cecil Newton revealing that the Volunteers offered him $150,000 and the Tigers $180,000.

“I did say the offer was $150(K) and that is from Cecil Newton,” Moore explained during the 15-minute interview, which can be heard in its entirety by clicking HERE.  “Cecil Newton said that on the tape.  ‘$150,000 offer from Tennessee’, then he went up a week later to $200,000… and this is coming from Cecil Newton guys.  This didn’t come from Tennessee, it didn’t come from Auburn.

“This is [Cecil Newton] saying to Mississippi State, ‘Hey, I have an offer from Tennessee for $150(K)’ one week, coming back the next week and saying ‘I have an offer for $200,000.  I also have an offer for $180(K) from Auburn.  So hey guys, we’ll come to Mississippi State for $180,000.  So that is proved and that was said.”

Moore also repeated his claims that Cam Newton was around during at least one of his father’s discussions on schools bidding on his talents.

“I do believe that Cam Newton knew.  I do believe that on these tapes when we play them that you’ll be able to tell Cam Newton knew what was going on.  That’s all I’ll say about that at this time,” Moore said during the interview. “That’s been Auburn’s stance all along is that… and the SEC’s really and the NCAA’s… ‘Cam didn’t know what his dad was doing’.  Well, so what?  His dad was shopping him around.  He should’ve been ineligible.  That’s the whole thing here.  And that’s all we’re trying to do, we’re trying to get this out and get the story answered.  Let the NCAA answer this thing, let the SEC answer this thing.  I wanna know why he was ruled ineligible for a couple of hours prior to the SEC championship game and I wanna know what the NCAA heard and I wanna know why they made their ruling.”

Reportedly, the audio tapes Moore has allegedly heard were made by John Bond and Bill Bell. The former is an ex-Mississippi State quarterback who told ESPN.com in November that an alleged Newton middleman — former MSU teammate Kenny Rogers — said “it would take cash to get Cam“, while the latter is a Mississippi State booster who told the same website that he had “received a text message from a man claiming to represent Cam Newton’s father that outlined a payment plan designed to bring the quarterback to the Bulldogs”.

Moore’s accusations are extremely damning to both Auburn and Tennessee, but they also raise at least two questions.  Most significantly, if Bond and Bell are in possession of audio tapes that implicate the two schools, why haven’t they been turned over to the NCAA?  Or, if they have been turned over to the NCAA and they contain the information Moore claims they do, why has the NCAA apparently not acted on what would be a bombshell of a development?

Moore claims Bond shared some of the tapes with the NCAA, although he was uncertain how much of them the governing body of collegiate athletics have heard.

The most recent report regarding the Cam Newton “situation”, though, is that the investigation is ongoing but there’s no bomb set to drop on The Plains.  Certainly if there was any shred of truth or credibility to Moore’s claims, Cecil Newton being heard on tape accusing Auburn and Tennessee of offering money in exchange for his son’s services would qualify as the mother of all hydrogen bombs in this imbroglio, wouldn’t it?

In the parlance of that area of the country, Moore’s dog don’t hunt on a couple of levels.

Moore’s admittedly life-long affinity for the Crimson Tide raises one eyebrow, and the fact that he’s starting a new radio show– that he hopes to syndicate — in two weeks on which he will supposedly play the damning tapes raises the other.

Apparently, though, Moore is just itching to play them, irrespective of his new gig.

“They’re real, they’re legit.  And they have a lot of information on there that I think is gonna clarify a lot of things for a lot of people,” Moore told the station.  “That’s all we’re trying to do, is find out what the answers to these questions are and I think we’ll be able to do that once we are able to play these things.  I want everybody to hear them.  I’d like to get the information out there.”

We’re not saying that Moore is fabricating claims in order to boost both his profile and the launch of a new professional endeavor.  We’re just saying that there’s a significant stench surrounding these latest “developments” that simply can’t be ignored.

That same stench won’t allow us to get something out of our head: if Moore truly wanted these questions answered, he’d take these tapes public immediately and begin the process of getting them answered.  Instead, he’s sitting on the tapes until they can be played on his radio show.

Of course, Moore has an answer to those questioning his motives in holding back on a release.

“The answer to that question is real simple,” Moore said when asked about the delay in releasing the tapes.  “A, I’m not going to put something on the air that I can’t back up 100 percent, that I’ve had substantiated and authenticated.  I’m going to make sure when we go in there and play this, from a liability standpoint, that we’re good to go.  And I think that’s a smart business decision, one.

“I’m not going to rush out just because we have this story and we have these tapes — and I’ve got some of them in my possession as we speak — but I’m not gonna go play this stuff on the air for money, to get recognized.  I’m gonna make sure that this stuff is done right and this story is done right and the due diligence is done on it.”

OK, so let me get this straight.  Moore is tossing around words like “liability”, “substantiated”, ” authenticated” and “due diligence” as his reasoning for not releasing the tapes at the same time he’s going on various radio shows discussing the content of the alleged tapes?

Again, the stench is overwhelming.

Then again, if his claims are verified?  Auburn and Tennessee might find themselves in a whole pile of what most people believe Moore is shoveling right now.

Greg Ward Jr., to Heisman voters: ‘Psssttt, I’m still here, don’t forget’

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (1) runs past Connecticut defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi, left, en route to a 30-yard touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Deservedly so, most of the Heisman focus these first four-plus weeks of the 2016 season has been squarely on Lamar Jackson and the stunningly phenomenal season the Louisville quarterback is putting together. There are others, though, who merit mention.

Case in point? Greg Ward Jr.

In No. 6 Houston’s Thursday night 42-14 romp over UConn, the quarterback completed just over 84 percent of his passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 65 yards and two scores for good measure. The win was the Cougars’ eighth in a row, with the last loss coming Nov. 21 of last year to… these very same Huskies.

On at least one occasion in avenging the loss, though, Ward Jr.’s sterling completion percentage got a little help from one of his receiving friends.

The latest virtuoso performance, which included his third 300-yard passing game of the season, pushed Ward Jr. to 1,503 yards of offense (1,325 passing, 178 rushing) and 13 total touchdowns (eight passing, five rushing) in four games while also battling a lingering shoulder issue. For comparison’s sake, and you know we’re not alone in doing so, Jackson will enter Week 5 with a statistical ledger that’s straight from a teenager’s video game: 1,856 yards of total offense and a ridiculous 25 total touchdowns in his four games.

While it’s still quite a ways down the road, Ward’s Cougars and Jackson’s Cardinals will square off in what’s shaping up to be a monumental mid-November Thursday night game that could go a long way in determining not only the Heisman race, but helping to shape the playoff picture as well.  In between, voters, don’t forget about the kid from Houston.

Report: Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel undergoes surgery, out as long as a month

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30:  Sojourn Shelton #8 of the Wisconsin Badgers, Vince Biegel #47 of the Wisconsin Badgers, T.J. Edwards #53 of the Wisconsin Badgers react to a interception during the second half of a game against the USC Trojans in the National University Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 30, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Just in time for their toughest stretch of the season, No. 8 Wisconsin may be without one of the team’s most important defensive players.

Badgers linebacker Vince Biegel is set to miss the next several weeks after undergoing surgery to insert a screw in his cracked foot.

“He’s been playing on it for the last couple weeks, and it was bothering him a little bit,” Biegel’s father Rocky told ESPN. “He had X-rays last night and confirmed it was cracked. He either plays on it, and then if he breaks it, then he’s going to be out for eight weeks. Either way, he’s got to have surgery on it. So he can keep playing until it breaks or try to go through the season with it and try to fix it. At any time, he could break it all the way through. It was just a crack and they’re just putting a screw in it. It’s a very, very minor crack.”

No matter how minor it is, losing Biegel for as long as a month is a huge blow to a defense that has been among the best in the country this season. Wisconsin does have a bye week after traveling to No. 4 Michigan on Saturday but also have to play No. 2 Ohio State and division rivals Iowa and Nebraska to close out October.

Biegel has nine tackles on the year and a sack but is among the most experienced players on the team having played in 46 games at Wisconsin, including 32 starts. Redshirt freshman Zack Baun is expected to take his place.

If there is one bright spot for head coach Paul Chryst and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox however, it’s that the Badgers’ linebacking corp is one of the best in the country. Still, as good as Jack Cichy, T.J. Edwards and T.J. Watt have been this year, they’ll have to step up their games with an imposing schedule coming up.

Houston missing four starters for AAC matchup against UConn

SAN MARCOS, TX - SEPTEMBER 24: Duke Catalon #2 of the Houston Cougars runs against Brandon McDowell #6 of the Texas State Bobcats at Bobcat Stadium on September 24, 2016 in San Marcos, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
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Houston is looking to avenge their only loss of the 2015 season on Thursday night against Connecticut but the Cougars will have to do so a little short-handed.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the team is down a whopping four starters and a key backup against the Huskies: starting linebackers Tyus Bowser (head injury) and Matthew Adams (coaches’ decision), running back Duke Catalon (head injury), cornerback Brandon Wilson (lower leg) plus backup tight end Alex Leslie (ankle injury).

Catalon has already missed a game this season and is arguably the biggest loss for the team as that will force them to rely on quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (who missed last year’s game) even more against UConn. The transfer from Texas is averaging 4.7 yards a carry on the year and had a big game against Oklahoma in the opener.

Coach Tom Herman and the sixth-ranked Cougars still should be able handle their business at home against a conference foe but the mounting injuries this early in the season are starting to get a little concerning if you’re a Houston fan.

Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett officially withdraws from school

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Blake Barnett #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws before the Advocare Classic against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Despite the wishes of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide depth chart officially became a little thinner on Thursday.

After nearly a day of speculation, Alabama announced that quarterback Blake Barnett is no longer a part of the Crimson Tide football team.

“We received word this afternoon that Blake Barnett has officially withdrawn from school and is no longer with our program,” Saban said in a statement. “The quarterback position is a very unique position where only one player can play. We are very disappointed any time a player leaves the program who feels he can compete for a starting position elsewhere, rather than here at Alabama. We wish Blake the very best of luck in the future.”

Barnett started the opener against USC and has thrown for 219 yards and two touchdowns on the year. However the redshirt freshman lost the starting job to true freshman Jalen Hurts and has only played sparingly in the first month of the season.

Saban recently said he wanted Barnett to remain with the program but it seems pretty obvious that playing time would be limited as the team’s backup signal-caller and a transfer would be forthcoming. Now it appears the only question is where to for the former five-star recruit, who is a Southern California native and was recruited by nearly everybody coming out of high school.