Even as this part of CFT is technically called “The Rumor Mill”, we have been doing our best to avoid touching on vague claims made by USA Today‘s Danny Sheridan regarding information he purportedly has on Auburn’s recruitment of Cam Newton. Unfortunately, the NCAA now has an interest, which means we are interested as well.
For those who are unaware, and as a bit of background, Sheridan is, among other things, the odds setter for USA Today and a lifelong resident of Mobile, Alabama. And an unabashed Crimson Tide supporter and alumnus. Over the past couple of/few months, Sheridan has appeared on the nationally-syndicated Paul Finebaum radio show claiming he has inside information from an NCAA source on the name of the individual — the infamous “bag man” — who allegedly paid Newton’s father Cecil to ensure his son signed with Auburn.
During his last Finebaum appearance a week or so ago, and despite a buildup that led listeners to believe he would reveal the name of the Newton “bag man”, Sheridan refused to give the individual’s name out of fear that he would be sued. Or some people’s lives would be ruined. Or something. While he won’t talk publicly about any specifics out of fear of reprisal, he’s now apparently ready to sing to The Association in private.
Both Sheridan and his attorney confirmed to the Birmingham News that the NCAA called on Monday and requested an audience to discuss any relevant information he has or doesn’t have. Sheridan agreed to the request, and will talk with investigators this week.
“I let them know that if they wished to talk to me, I will talk to them on or off the record about subjects of mutual interest,” Sheridan told the News. “I have no idea if the allegations against Auburn are true. I only know that what I reported was exactly what I was told.”
As Gene Chizik is fully aware — “You’ll know when we’re finished, and we’re not finished!” — the NCAA’s investigation into the Auburn football program is still open and ongoing. NCAA president Mark Emmert said as much Tuesday during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, stating in very Roe Lach-like fashion that “when they’re closed, they’re closed.”
It should be noted that, while Cecil Newton admitted to soliciting payment — reportedly between $100,000 to $180,000 — from Mississippi State before his son signed with Auburn a short time later, there has been no proof that the father solicited money from AU let alone received a payment from some nefarious booster wrapped in bag man clothing. While it wouldn’t take a Beamon-esque leap in logic to assume that if Cecil Newton attempted to pry money from MSU he did the same with AU, there’s simply no proof we’re aware of that he did.
Whether Sheridan can shed any new light on the situation remains to be seen. I do know one thing: there are many an Auburn fan who hopes Sheridan is as full of it as many, many members of the national media feel he is.