FBI sniffing around Cam Newton situation

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The bizarre case of Cam Newton‘s post-Florida recruitment has taken yet another odd turn as it’s being reported that a federal agency has taken an interest in the situation.

According to TMZ.com, the FBI has requested a meeting with John Bond, the former Mississippi State quarterback who was allegedly solicited by a middleman claiming to represent the Newton family and seeking upwards of $200,000 for Newton’s signature on a letter of intent.  Bond took the solicitation to the higher-ups at MSU, who then turned the information over to the NCAA, which subsequently launched an investigation a little less than a year ago.

Bond’s attorney confirmed to TMZ that the FBI has requested a sit-down meeting with his client.  According to the attorney, the FBI agent said “we are interested in whether young men are being shopped to colleges.”

If the FBI is interested in speaking to Bond, it would then stand to reason they would also want to speak to his former MSU teammate Kenny Rogers.  Rogers is reportedly the middleman who allegedly made it known to Bond — maybe not directly, however — that Newton’s talents were available for a low six-figure sum of money.

The accusations of Newton’s football skills being for sale was the first of two “scandals” to hit the Auburn quarterback and Heisman frontrunner in less than a week.  Earlier today, FOX Sports.com, citing a single unnamed source, reported three instances of academic cheating were committed by Newton while he was at Florida in 2008, and that he was facing expulsion before deciding to transfer from the Gainesville school to a Texas junior college in early 2009.

The five days of reports have taken their toll on a reputation Newton has steadily rebuilt since being charged with buying a stolen laptop in 2008.  It’s also taken its toll on Newton’s head coach, who was at a Mike Gundy-level of pissed off at his press conference this afternoon.

I’m trying to defend something that is quite frankly garbage,” Chizik said, before really starting to roll.

“Is there a wizard behind the curtain? I don’t know. Is there one, is there two, are there 10? I don’t know and I don’t care. But what I do care about is coming to the defense of not only a great football player but a great human being who comes from a great family.

“Now if you really want to do your homework, go and start with his Little League coach, then go to his junior high coach, then go to his high school coach, then go to his junior college coach and then come talk to any coach at Auburn. And you’re all going to hear the same thing. So this is a waste of my time, but I’m going to address it because I’m defending a young man who deserves it.”

Newton was a little — OK, a lot — less emotional in his response to the latest round of allegations.  In fact, he seemed to simply shrug them off with a wave and a smile that seemed to say “when God be blessin’, the devil be messin’“.

“Am I hurt? No. Am I curious? A little bit,” Newton said. “But it really doesn’t bother me that much. I’m a blessed individual. …

“I’m not here to bash anyone. I’m here to go to school and win football games at Auburn. My sole focus right now is to win this football game coming up on Saturday.”

Who knows if there is any truth and to what degree these myriad reports hold — and Lord knows Newton is far from sainthood — but it’s a sad indictment of the whole ugly mess that it’s the accused who’s taken the high road, while adults all around him have chosen to step straight into the gutter.

UPDATED 7:22 p.m. ET: Courtesy of our friends at NBC Sports.com, here’s video of Chizik’s emotional defense of Newton.

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Urban Meyer calls LSU QB Joe Burrow “a Buckeye forever”

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The majority of players that end up transferring from one school to another probably leave on mostly positive terms with their previous school. In the case of quarterback Joe Burrow, there appear to be absolutely no bitter hostilities left at the table at Ohio State as far as Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer is concerned.

Speaking to the media at a job fair recently at Ohio State, Meyer gave a glowing review of the conversations he had with Burrow and his family before Burrow made his decision to transfer to LSU.

“It was a situation that his last two weeks of spring were excellent,” Meyer said, according to 247 Sports. “I just talked to him the other day and his family, I saw his dad. He’s great. He’s a Buckeye forever and he’s going to go do the best he can at LSU and wish him well and I understand.”

Burrow was officially added to the LSU program last month. Burrow is expected to compete right away for the starting job with the Tigers after undergoing surgery for a broken hand last year. In Columbus, Meyer just named Dwayne Haskins as the starting quarterback for Ohio State this season.

Mike Leach goes on defense over tweet including edited Obama speech

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Washington State head coach Mike Leach remains one of the most intriguing coaches to follow on Twitter simply because you never know what to expect to pop up on his timeline. On Sunday evening, Leach shared a video of former President Barack Obama in an attempt to open a dialogue about government. The biggest problem with that was the fact the video had been heavily edited to omit major portions of the speech Obama was giving, and the trimmed down quotes pulled together offer a different meaning.

The tweet in question, which remains standing on Leach’s timeline as of Monday morning (UPDATE: The tweet has been removed from Leach’s account);

As quickly as Leach started receiving blowback from people on Twitter for sharing an edited video clip that fits a political narrative that contrasts the fuller context of the speech, Leach went on a tweet and retweet frenzy defending his attempt to spark a conversation.

The video may not be false, but it has been documented to be missing large portions of the original speech the doctored video used as a source.

Whether the video was doctored or not never seemed to be something Leach was concern3d about, as he was more focused on the lines that were recited. Whatever the reasoning for sharing the video, Leach sure found a way to keep busy on Twitter as he defended his original tweet.

Whether you agree or disagree with Leach and his political views, there is no questioning he is up for a discussion at any time.

UPDATE: Wouldn’t you know it, but literally seconds after this post was originally published, Leach tweeted a link to the full Obama speech.

UPDATE NO. 2: The controversial tweet has now been removed from Leach’s account.

Ex-Western Michigan WR reportedly holding up payouts in $208 million lawsuit with NCAA

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It’s been well over a year since the NCAA reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit over grant-in-aid/cost of attendance and yet the $208 million the organization is still just sitting in a bank account waiting to be doled out. While you might first think that this is the result of the usual dragging of their feet from those in Indianapolis, it turns out that is not the case at all.

USA Today is reporting that it’s actually former Western Michigan wide receiver Darrin Duncan who is the one holding things up. He withdrew from the class-action case but his attorney, Caroline Tucker, “attempted to obtain $200,000 from the plaintiffs’ lawyers in exchange for dropping the objection.” The lawyers on the plaintiffs’ side have naturally responded in force, asking either of the two to post a five-figure bond to cover their own legal fees resulting from this delay. The judge in the case, Claudia Wilken, knocked that down to $5,000 last Friday by calling Tucker/Duncan’s objection to the case “meritless and thus his appeal is unlikely to succeed.”

At this point, Duncan/Tucker can either put up the money and risk losing it to continue their objection or drop things and let the payments — which could go as high as $6,000 per athlete — begin. While this is naturally focused on money, there’s a bit more to what the former Broncos receiver is going through:

All of this is occurring against the backdrop of Duncan dealing with personal hardship.

Now 28, he has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to his mother and a GoFundMe page established on his behalf about a year ago. He has received death threats because of his objection to the settlement, his mother, Arleen Pollard, said in an interview with USA TODAY Sports.

It does appear as though a solution to this long-running saga is in the cards somewhat soon but until then, the wait continues before the checks can start hitting the mail.

Pitt reportedly poaches Mississippi State staffer to be new director of recruiting

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Could we have the start of a budding rivalry between Pitt and Mississippi State? No, but the two programs did see one poach a staffer from the other.

A source told FootballScoop that Mississippi State assistant director of football operations Reed Case has taken the director of recruiting position at Pitt. Both positions are off-the-field roles but as anybody who has worked in a football office will tell you, each is crucial to the day-to-day success of a program.

Per the folks over at FootballScoop, this is one of the first big jobs that Case has had at an ACC program in the Northeast but he’s got a diverse background from stops at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and East Carolina among others.

The move by Pat Narduzzi fills the vacancy left behind by long-time staffer Mark Diethorn, who previously served as the Panthers’ director of recruiting for six years before heading to a new job at his alma mater of Virginia Tech last week.