Cam Newton, Auburn cleared by NCAA

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Apparently, the Cam Newton situation has abruptly come to, for now, an end — with one final major twist, of course — just in time for the entire focus to be shifted onto the SEC title game, a possible spot in the BcS title game, and the Heisman Trophy presentation in two weeks.

According to a press release issued by the NCAA, the Auburn quarterback was declared ineligible by the school Tuesday after “the NCAA concluded on Monday that a violation of amateurism rules occurred.”  Wednesday, however, the NCAA announced that Newton has been reinstated and is immediately eligible to compete.

So, yes, you read that correctly: Newton was ineligible for the SEC title game for a matter of roughly 24 hours.  And it didn’t hit the Internet rumor mill at all.  That may be the most amazing part of this story.  Other than a father pimping out his son, of course.

Speaking of which, the news was not good for Cam Newton‘s father, however.  The NCAA writes in their release that “according to facts of the case agreed upon by Auburn University and the NCAA enforcement staff, the student-athlete’s father and an owner of a scouting service [Kenny Rogers] worked together to actively market the student-athlete as a part of a pay-for-play scenario in return for Newton’s commitment to attend college and play football.”

As a result of the investigation, Auburn has limited Cecil Newton’s access to the athletics program and Mississippi State has disassociated itself from Rogers.  Rogers, a former MSU football player, reportedly solicited between $100,000 and $180,000 from coaches at his former school on the behalf of Cecil Newton.

“The conduct of Cam Newton’s father and the involved individual is unacceptable and has no place in the SEC or in intercollegiate athletics,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement.  “The actions taken by Auburn University and Mississippi State University make it clear this behavior will not be tolerated in the SEC.”

The reason for Newton’s reinstatement is simple.  “Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs.

Newton was unaware of his father’s actions according to the facts gathered in the NCAA’s investigation and therefore did not participate — i.e. play in games — while ineligible, and is therefore eligible for reinstatement under NCAA bylaws.

Certainly new information could surface somewhere down the road that would cast a different light on the situation as the investigation is ongoing and active, but the only thing that matters right now is that Cam Newton is eligible and this cloud has been lifted off the Auburn football program.

And, with so much riding on the next couple of weeks, it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

Texas’ Jeffrey McCulloch involved in single-car accident after hydroplaning, hitting pole

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One member of the Texas Longhorns football program was involved in an off-field incident this week that, thankfully, sounds a little scarier than it (hopefully) turned out to be.

Tom Herman revealed Tuesday that Jeffrey McCulloch was involved in a single-car accident Tuesday.  Per the head coach, the linebacker hydroplaned on a wet, slick Austin road and hit a light pole.

McCulloch was treated at the scene and then went to a local hospital before eventually being released, the Dallas News reported.

However, the Austin American Statesman writes that “[a]fter complaining about neck soreness, McCulloch was expected to have a CT scan.”

“All early indications is that he should be OK,” Herman said. “Just want to make sure everything is good to go.”

On Twitter Tuesday night, McCulloch also indicated that he’s fine.

McCulloch, a junior, has played in all seven games this season, starting one of those contests.  He’s listed as the starting B-backer on the Longhorns’ most recent depth chart.

Suspect arrested in shooting of two FIU football players

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There’s been a rather significant development in an off-field incident involving a pair of Florida International football players.

According to WPLG-TV among other outlets, 29-year-old Lorenzo Shine has been arrested in connection to the Sept. 6 drive-by shooting of running back Anthony Jones (pictured) and offensive lineman Mershawn Miller.  Shine, who admitted to driving his girlfriend’s car at the time of the shooting, is facing two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

From the CBS affiliate in Miami:

Anthony Jones and Mershawn Miller were visiting Miller’s brother at his home in the 2400 block of NW 140th Street when a car pulled up and shots were fired from within the vehicle, according to police.

At least 16 shots were fired at those sitting on the porch. Surveillance video from a nearby home shows bullets flying, as two men run to the back of the house.

Using the surveillance video, police tracked down the owner of the car. The owner of the car said she didn’t remember driving it on the day of the drive-by. Lorenzo Shine, 29, then came out of the woman’s house and retrieved two bags and something from the car’s glove box which he put in one of the bags. He took both bags inside the house.

The homeowner consented to a police search of the residence for guns. Inside one of the bags that Shine had removed from the car was a 40 caliber pistol.

Shine had been released from prison in late June after serving time for armed robbery and burglary.  Police have been unable to unearth a motive in the shooting.

Jones was shot in the face and the back during the incident, while Miller, his high school teammate in Miami, was shot in the arm.  The latter was released from the hospital shortly after the incident, while the former required a lengthier stay, although he was released after a two-week hospital stay.

Jones, the nephew of former Florida State star Dalvin Cook, ran for a team-high 88 yards in FIU’s season-opening loss to Indiana.  He also accounted for a career-high two rushing touchdowns in the same game.  Miller saw his first career action in the opener after redshirting as a true freshman last season.

Neither player has played since being shot.

Status of nation’s leading receiver up in the air for Colorado vs. Washington

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One of the nation’s most prolific players on the offensive side of the ball may not be available this weekend.  Or he may be.  One of the two.

Late in the third quarter of then-undefeated Colorado’s loss to USC, Laviska Shenault went down with a toe injury and didn’t return.  With Washington, also reeling from a tough overtime loss to Oregon, on tap this coming weekend, Shenault’s status is decidedly up in the air.

“We haven’t found out anything on it yet,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said by way of the Boulder Daily Camera. “They’re still evaluating everything. We haven’t found out any total results or anything. He still has a sore toe, but we’ll see.”

Per the Daily Camera, the wide receiver didn’t practice Monday and was seen wearing a walking boot.  As of Tuesday, he’s still considered day-to-day.

Shenault currently leads the country in receptions per game (10) and receiving yards per game (130).  His six receiving touchdowns are second in the Pac-12 and tied for 14th nationally.

TE who took leave for personal reasons will now transfer from Pitt

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What was a temporary absence has apparently turned into a permanent one.

Oct. 10, a Pitt spokesperson confirmed that “[i]t was mutually agreed upon that Tyler Sear will take leave of the team for personal reasons.” Less than a week later, the tight end took to Twitter to announce that, “after much communication and discussion between myself, my coaches, and loved ones… I have decided to pursue a fresh start and transfer.”

In the social media missive, Sears indicated that he took “a leave of absence to focus on my mental health.”

Sear started five of the first six games this season for the Panthers, catching two passes for nine yards.  He started two games as a freshman last season and caught one pass for 10 yards.

Sear is the third tight end to leave the program in the last seven months.

In March, it was confirmed that UCLA transfer Chris Clark was taking a leave of absence from Pitt; the projected 2018 starter is not expected to return.  In July, Charles Reeves Jr. was dismissed for unspecified violations of team rules.