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.

Big Ten pulls plug on fall football amid COVID-19 concerns

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The Big Ten won’t play football this fall because of concerns about COVID-19, becoming the first of college sports’ power conferences to yield to the pandemic.

The move announced Tuesday comes six day after the conference that includes historic programs such as Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State had released a revised conference-only schedule that it hoped would help it navigate a fall season with potential COVID-19 disruptions.

But it was not a surprise. Speculation has run rampant for several days that the Big Ten was moving toward this decision. On Monday, coaches throughout the conference tried to push back the tide, publicly pleading for more time and threatening to look elsewhere for games this fall.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

The Big Ten touts itself as the oldest college athletic conference in the country, dating back to 1896 when it was called the Western Conference, and its schools have been playing football ever since. It became the Big Ten in 1918 and grew into a football powerhouse.

The 14 Big Ten schools span from Maryland and Rutgers on the East Coast to Iowa and Nebraska out west. Not only has it been one of the most successful conferences on the field but off the field it has become one of the wealthiest.

The Big Ten, with its lucrative television network, distributes about $50 million per year to its members.

Trump, coaches push for college football as cracks emerge

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President Donald Trump joined a U.S. senator and a number of coaches Monday in the push to save the college football season from a pandemic-forced shutdown.

There was speculation that two of the five most powerful conferences — the Big Ten and the Pac-12 — might call off their seasons. Farther east, Old Dominion canceled fall sports and became the first school in the Bowl Subdivison to break from its league in doing so; the rest of Conference USA was going forward with plans to play.

A Big Ten spokesman said no votes had been taken by its presidents and chancellors on fall sports as of Monday afternoon and the powerful Southeastern Conference made clear it was not yet ready to shutter its fall season.

“Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: ‘Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day,’” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey posted on Twitter. ”Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying.”

A growing number of athletes have spoken out about saving the season with Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence among the group posting their thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #WeWantToPla. Trump threw his support behind them Monday.

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled,” he tweeted.

Old Dominion has stopped trying. The Virginia school canceled football and other fall sports less than a week after Conference USA set out a plan to play a football season.

“We concluded that the season – including travel and competition – posed too great a risk for our student-athletes,” ODU President Broderick said.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh took a different stand, saying the Wolverines have shown players can be safe after they return to school.

“I’m not advocating for football this fall because of my passion or our players desire to play but because of the facts accumulated over the last eight weeks since our players returned to campus on June 13,” he wrote. “I am advocating on August 10 that this virus can be controlled and handled because of these facts.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, picked up on the safer-with-football theme in a letter to the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten.

“Life is about tradeoffs. There are no guarantees that college football will be completely safe — that’s absolutely true; it’s always true,” he wrote. “But the structure and discipline of football programs is very likely safer than what the lived experience of 18- to 22-year-olds will be if there isn’t a season.”

“Here’s the reality: Many of you think that football is safer than no football, but you also know that you will be blamed if there is football, whereas you can duck any blame if you cancel football,” added Sasse, a former college president. “This is a moment for leadership. These young men need a season. Please don’t cancel college football.”

Players unite in push to save college season, create union

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Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds saw the tweets from Trevor Lawrence and other college football players pushing for the opportunity to play this season despite the pandemic.

Reynolds, one of the organizers behind a players’ rights movement in the Big Ten, didn’t like the way some on social media seemed to be pitting Lawrence’s message against the efforts of #BigTenUnited and #WeAreUnited.

“There was a lot of division,” Reynolds told AP early Monday morning.

Reynolds got on a call with Lawrence and the star quarterback’s Clemson teammate, Darien Rencher, and within a matter of hours the summer of athlete empowerment found another gear.

College football players from across the country united Sunday in an attempt to save their season and ensure they will no longer be left out of the sport’s biggest decisions.

Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State All-America running back Chuba Hubbard, Alabama running back Najee Harris and numerous other players from Florida State to Oregon posted a graphic on social media with #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited.

“We came to the conclusion, We Want to Play, their message might have been conveyed differently but at the end of the day the message wasn’t too far off from what Big Ten United wanted to promote,” Reynolds said. “Which is we all want to play sports this fall. Every athlete, I’m pretty sure, wants to play their sports. They just want to do so safely.”

The #WeAreUnited hashtag was used a week ago by a group of Pac-12 players in announcing a movement they say has the support of hundreds of peers within their conference. They have threatened mass opt-outs by players if concerns about COVID-19 protocols, racial injustice in college sports and economic rights for athletes are not addressed.

#BigTenUnited arrived on the scene a couple days later, a movement that claimed the backing off 1,000 Big Ten football players. Their demands were more targeted, strictly related to health and safety in dealing with COVID-19.

Sunday night, the call with Reynolds, Rencher and Lawrence led to a Zoom meeting — of course — with some of the Pac-12 players involved in “WeAreUnited.”

Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs got to work on a graphic and now the movement is officially nationwide.

“Just started bouncing ideas off each others’ heads and kind of discussing where we go from here and we ended up coming up with that statement,” said Reynolds, a senior from South Orange, New Jersey.

Under the logos of each Power Five conference — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — the players pronounced their platform:

— We all want to play football this season.

— Establish universal mandated health & safety procedures and protocols to protect college athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA.

— Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision.

— Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.

— Use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials: Ultimately create a College Football Players Association.

All of this capped a weekend during which the adults who run college sports seemed to be moving toward shutting it all down because of the pandemic.

A day after the Mid-American Conference became the first of the major college football leagues to cancel the fall season, Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday. They discussed mounting concerns about whether a season can be safely conducted with the pandemic still not under control in the United States.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said no decisions on the season have been made, but conceded the outlook has not improved.

“Are we in a better place today than two weeks, ago? No, we’re not,” he said.

Bowlsby cited “growing evidence and the growing pool of data around myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and it has been found in some COVID-19 patients. There is concern it could be a long-term complication of contracting the virus even in young, healthy people, a group that has usually avoided severe cardiovascular symptoms.

Also Sunday night, the Big Ten’s university presidents and chancellors held a previously unscheduled meeting, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was not announced by the conference.

Another person with direct knowledge of the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no votes were taken or decisions made about the college football season.

The final call on whether major college football will played this season rests in the hands of the university presidents who oversee the largest conferences.

With doom and gloom hanging over college football, Lawrence, who has become the face of the sport in a summer of strife, tried to push back the tide with a series of tweets.

“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence posted. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19.”

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth had a similar message, and the parents of Ohio State football players weighed in, too.

Reynolds wants athletes to have a say in the meetings that are deciding the fate of their sports — starting now.

”All college athletes through unifying and not being afraid to speak our minds and having social media to kind of mobilize, I think that box on a Zoom call is something that is pretty attainable,” he said. “Especially, in the near future.”

After MAC surrenders to pandemic, will other leagues follow?

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In many ways, the Mid-American Conference has little in common with Power Five leagues that first come to mind when fans think of major college football.

There are no 75,000-seat stadiums in the MAC. Million-dollar per year coaches are rare. In a typical season, NFL scouts might find one or two potential first-round draft picks playing at the 12 MAC schools that dot the Midwest. The MAC’s biggest games — #MACtion, if you will — are often played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Its television deal with ESPN pays per year only a few million more than the $9 million Clemson pays coach Dabo Swinney.

Still, the MAC is one of 10 conferences that competes in the NCAA’s highest level of football, and Saturday it became the first of those to surrender to the coronavirus pandemic and cancel the fall sports season.

So is the MAC an anomaly, done in by its small budgets or is this a dire sign of things to come in college football?

“I won’t try to judge what other folks are doing,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “I know we’re all in the same place. They all have their advisers. They’re going to make judgments based on the information they are receiving.”

Not long after the MAC announced it would explore second-semester seasons for all fall sports, including soccer and volleyball, the Big Ten made its own announcement that seemed ominous given the timing.

Tapping the brakes on football’s preseason, the Big Ten told its schools that until further notice full contact practices cannot begin. All teams will remain in the first two days of what is known as the “acclimatization period,” working out in just helmets. The first Big Ten games of the season are scheduled for Sept. 5.

“As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

The MAC’s schools were facing a significant financial burden by trying to maintain costly COVID-19 protocols, while also dealing with the uncertainty that campuses can be opened safely.

A move to the spring, however, could also be budget-buster if it means less revenue from the ESPN deal, which pays each school about $1 million per year, and football ticket sales. The MAC also shares about $90 million per year in College Football Playoff money with four other conferences.

“It would be naive to say that you don’t give thought and consideration to what the financial ramifications of any decision are, but this was a health and well-being decision first and foremost,” Steinbrecher said. “As we sit here today we don’t know what this will mean financially and how the rest of the fall plays out.”

Steinbrecher said the decision effects only fall sports, not basketball or others that begin in the second semester such as baseball, softball and lacrosse.

He added the decision was unanimous among the membership. Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier, supported by NIU President Lisa Freeman, has been a vocal advocate of delaying the season.

“No one wants to have football or sports more than me,” said Frazier, who played football at Alabama in the late 1980s. “Football gave me all the opportunities I have today, but I can’t do it at the expense of people’s lives.”

Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee said he has been feeling a sense of inevitability for two weeks about the MAC canceling fall football, but can’t predict whether this decision trickles up to other conferences.

“Could it? Certainly. There’s certainly a narrative out there that could happen,” Wetherbee said. “No, it wouldn’t shock me if some followed suit. In fact, it would shock me if some didn’t.”

NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline made clear that even though plans for the football season have been adjusted to accommodate potential COVID-19 disruptions like the ones Major League Baseball has had, they are all still aspirational.

“Almost everything would have to be perfectly aligned to continue moving forward,” Hainline said Friday during the NCAA’s weekly video chat on social media.

As the Power Five conferences re-worked their schedules to play exclusively or mostly within their conferences, another of the MAC’s revenue streams dried up.

MAC schools, with athletic budgets in the $30 million range, rely heavily on payouts from road games against power conference teams. Kent State alone had more than $5 million in so-called guarantee games canceled. Whether they can be recouped and when is still to be determined. Without that revenue, the strain became too great of trying to keep players and staff safe during a pandemic.

“Certainly there was a cost attached to it,” Wetherbee said. “But as a league we were prepared to do it.”

The move to try spring football has already been going on in the second tier of Division I.

Nine of 13 conferences that play in the Championship Subdivision, have postponed fall football seasons. The first was the Ivy League in early July.

Now it’s the MAC, which was among the first conferences to limit fan access to its basketball tournament in March as concerns for the virus began to soar across the country. On March 12, the MAC was among many conferences to call off their tournaments hours before the NCAA canceled all of March Madness.

“If you told me in March we’d be here today,” Steinbrecher said, “I’d never have believed it”