Of all the fascinating subplots and myriad storylines that have come out of the bombshell dropped on the college football world Thursday, that the NCAA is investigating the recruitment of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, perhaps the most intriguing-while-simultaneously-hilarious is that somehow Urban Meyer was not only involved in but was the impetus for this information ultimately coming to light.
When you put together an amalgamation of the rumors we’ve heard and ones that have bounced around the Internet for the past 24 hours or so, this is the gist of how Meyer has become intertwined in this mess: Florida’s head coach took part in a conference call with Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and former Bulldogs quarterback John Bond, urging the pair to leak the story of the NCAA’s investigation. Or he urged the pair to take the information to the proper authorities and that got the investigation started. Or that he met the pair in an underground parking garage, smoking cigarettes in the shadows while divulging damaging information about a fellow SEC school. Or some other combination of hundreds of rumors that have thrown the Black Helicopter Brigade, Auburn Chapter, into a full-blown tizzy.
In short, Urban Meyer seems to have morphed into a modern-day, bizarro Mark Felt.
Bond, though, is attempting to shoot down the speculation, at least the part that pertains to Meyer. First, a little back story on Bond for those who are unfamiliar with his role in this situation.
The ex-MSU QB was quoted yesterday by multiple news outlets that he was approached by a former teammate — Kenny Rogers — who represented himself as someone who was speaking on behalf of the Newton family. Rogers, Bond claimed, said Newton’s talents were available to Mississippi State, but it would come at a price — $180,000 for MSU because of Newton’s prior relationship with Mullen, $200,000 for other schools. This “business transaction” was allegedly proposed during the heat of Newton’s recruitment by several schools as he was finishing his first and only season at the junior college level.
(Newton’s family has denied any knowledge of Rogers’ actions.)
While the rumors state that Meyer prodded much of what’s come to light since Thursday evening, Bond claims that it was his decision to take this alleged offer from Rogers to MSU officials, and it was his decision to be quoted on the record because the story was coming out with or without his name officially attached to it. During an interview on an Atlanta radio station, Bond was asked if Meyer put him up to this.
“No, I did it myself,” Bond said by way of a transcript from Auburn blog HABOTN.com. “When I got a phone call from the guy, I went straight to our athletic director. What happened to it, how it grew legs after that, I don’t know.
“I know we handled it right on our end. That was my first concern — Mississippi State. We’ve got things going on at Mississippi State. Coach Mullen is doing a fantastic job. Scott Stricklin is doing a great job as athletic director. We don’t need any bumps in the road. That’s what I was afraid was going to happen. I tried to cut it off at the pass.”
Bond was then asked about the rumored three-way phone call between himself, Mullen and Meyer. “Correct,” Bond said when asked if wanted to confirm that such a conversation never took place.
Of course, this entire convoluted and multi-layered situation is a whole lot of he-said he-said right now, so it will be up to you to determine whether or not you believe Bond, that Meyer had nothing to do with the investigation — which has been ongoing for months — somehow seeing the light of day this deep into the season. It’s understandable, though, why some would cast a leery eye at the timing of this story; “why the hell now?” would be an appropriate question, given Auburn’s status in the BcS rankings and Newton’s personal perch as the Heisman front-runner who could/should win the trophy going away.
About the only certainty right now is the fact that Newton is eligible to play this weekend and for the foreseeable future. Nothing’s been proven, nothing may ever be proven, and the only thing tangible in the allegations are that they appear on your computer screen. The credibility of the voice behind the accusations seems solid, but there’s zero proof at this time that either Newton or anyone connected to the QB’s camp was shopping his talents to the highest bidder. Rogers, the purported middleman allegedly working at the behest of the Newton camp, has yet to be heard from.
Would it be possible, then, to hold off on stripping the Heisman from Newton and wins from Auburn until more than 24 hours have passed? I understand that knee-jerk reactions to situations such as these don’t call for calm and common sense — and God knows we have an itchy trigger finger sometimes — but let’s initiate some crazy talk and take that tack this time around. Take a deep breath, allow the allegations to either be proven or shot down as BS, then break out the pitch forks and torches if warranted.
Yeah, I know. Good luck with that.