The worst part about a story like this–
No, wait, not the worst part. The worst part is knowing your football team is 10-0 and has an excellent chance to snap a four-game losing streak against their oldest rivals Saturday, but you still wake up terrified to find out what might have been written about them since the last time you checked. The knot in your stomach as you open your browser–that’s the worst part. For now, anyway.
But another bad part is how quickly things change. I’d tried to find the time to write something Tuesday afternoon, but, you know, new job and baby and all. It would have been a post almost snarlingly defiant; five or six days of digging, and the best the horde of reporters on the Newton trail could do was a crusty two-year old accusation of academic missteps at Florida? Really? The infuriating thing about the Evans hit piece was how utterly beside-the-point it was, but once the initial flash of anger had passed, that was also the pleasant thing about it. It meant nothing. Will’s effort to show it shouldn’t even be taken at its nonexistent face “value” is unquestionably appreciated, but I can’t say it was necessary. If that was all the legs the Newton story had to show for itself, it wasn’t going to walk very far.
So maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t get the post up, because it was just a few short hours before the news of the FBI involvement and the Schad report changed things. The particularly depressing thing about the FBI report is that it fit what I’d heard from a couple of people outside the Auburn circle I’d pinged: that there were plenty enough indications to fully believe the Newtons were on the take, but that hard evidence was hard to come by. Without subpoena power, neither the NCAA nor Auburn’s compliance department can check everything out, right? But the FBI can. This could be a problem.
Combine that with the Schad report –two gut punches after so much time watching the story twiddle its thumbs — and I wound up spending a lot of this morning thinking about Ockham’s razor. When I wrote my first post on Camgate, the vast distance between the information uncovered and “someone at Auburn paid the Newtons some vast sum of laundered money” seemed so great that the simplest, best explanation was that things began and ended in Starkville. At some point, though, there is too much smoke for there to be no fire. At some point, the simplest explanation for this much information pointing towards what we think of as the wrong conclusion is that the conclusion is accurate. Had we reached that point? I’ll be honest, WBE readers: as of this past morning, I was convinced we had.
But the day goes by, and I keep coming back to the one constant in this whole disastrous mess: that the people at Auburn who know the score better than virtually any of us, who have known this was an issue since July, for whom the Schad reveals were either old news or so poorly sourced that they aren’t weren’t bothering with (is that why an SEC spokesman apparently said they weren’t part of State’s original report on the matter, contrary to Schad’s report?) … those people are still emphatically behind Cam Newton’s innocence. As Phillip Marshall put it:
It’s a fact that Newton wouldn’t be playing for Auburn if there was any credible evidence against him. There is no gray area. If there was any evidence at all that he’d done anything wrong, he would not be playing.
A lot of people have assumed Auburn knows that Newton is ineligible and is just going all-in in an effort to win a couple of ill-gotten trophies before the hammer falls. But when you’re talking about a scenario with years and years of potential repercussions, that’s not how the game works, especially at a place like Auburn where history means NCAA allegations are things that cannot be taken likely. No one is any closer to the Auburn A.D. than P-Marsh; if he says this is a fact, it’s a fact. (Or something extremely close to one.)
But as As Matt Hinton pointed out, A.J. Green sat, Marcell Dareus sat, the UNC contingent sat, and Newton has played on. Why? The answer is that Auburn believes wholeheartedly that Newton is in the clear. When (is it even worth adding the “if”?) Cam Newton takes the field Saturday, we will be able to say with certainty that one of three things is true: either Auburn is correct and Newton is innocent of the allegations against him and his family, or they are lying through their teeth to the rest of the Auburn community, or they are so grossly negligent in their duty to investigate the MSU claims that they deserve to lose their jobs anyway.
We are Auburn. I know our history. So maybe it’s not accurate to say “We don’t cheat.” But that’s our history, our past; what Auburn is today, what Auburn ought to be, what Auburn is in the hearts and minds of those of us who love it, that Auburn–that Auburn does not cheat. I am taking and will continue to take our athletic leadership at their word that we have not cheated in the recruitment of Cam Newton.
But if that word is proven incorrect, there is going to be all kinds of hell to pay. And there damn well should be.
Some unfortunate housekeeping: I’m on the road most of the day Thursday and Friday, so I don’t think there’s going to be any post about Georgia. Sorry. I’ll tell you right now that I think we edge them assuming Newton plays … but that we all have a lot of nervous moments before the final whistle. Again. In lieu of more regular Auburn-centric posting, I’ve started moving some of my instant reaction to my Twitter feed and should have some sporadic updates over the next couple of days; give me a follow.
Bill Bell is now corroborating Rogers’ new account, saying Cecil asked him for money. They may never find a money trail from Auburn to the Newtons, we may escape future sanctions but I now have like zero confidence our season will still be standing once this is settled.
Big A says
No matter what happens, I guaranty that when they do that 30 for 30 again this is going to be one of the films. What will happen next? No matter what happens, let’s beat the Dawgs.
Yep, I think we’re fucked. The bill bell corroboration may have been the nail in the coffin. My last remaining hope is that he tried to get msu to pay, it didn’t work, and he gave up without trying to get auburn boosters to pay him. Whether or not money changed hands, it is becoming more likely that the ncaa will declare him ineligible. Why can’t we have nice things?
Auburn fans do the best “WE’RE DOOMED! WE’RE DOOMED! OH NOEZ!” ever! LOL!
Don’t worry gents… back when I was a lot younger I was right there with you. But with age and lack of energy, I now am not going to fret what MIGHT be. I’ll just wait until it IS, thank you very much.
And if it turns out to be a total AIN’T, I won’t have wasted all my limited energy.
Best of luck with your sweaty palms and nervous jitters. I’m gonna enjoy what we’ve got til we ain’t got it no mo.
Haha! Thanks, tiger.
Let me get this straight – MSU claims a conversation occured between a coach and Cecil Newton in which money was discussed. MSU also admits to continuing to recruit Cam despite that conversation and the additional allegation made by Bond. According to the NCAA, if a player or someone on his behalf (like his father) solicites money, that player is ineligible to play at any school. Well, doesn’t that mean MSU was attempting to sign and, therefore, was willing to play a kid they knew to be ineligible? Nice of them to set Auburn up to take the fall for something they were quite willing to do themselves.
I don’t know that we’re in any different position than what we were last Thursday. Sure, there are more allegations against Cecil Newton, but Cam didn’t go to MSU. I don’t know what the rules are for the athlete in that case if he never accepted any gifts or money. It seems to me that Rogers is in the worst position of all. Even Bond has stated it has “nothing to do with Auburn,” if I’m not mistaken. So, if Auburn knows it’s clean (PLEASE let that be the case), then like I said… we’re back to where we were last Thursday. And that’s a lot better place to be than what we’ve all been fearing.
Great writeup Jerry.
Unfortunately, the “if” has become “IF” Cam Newton plays Saturday. Cam plays Saturday, then any rational person will believe that AU compliance dept. has done it’s due dilligence. And, if it becomes apparent that AU dropped the ball and played Cam anyway, there will be “hell to pay”.
Your posts are the best on the internet. Period.
You know, these MSU guys sure are slimy liars (yes, we can safely say that). Why should anyone trust them at their word? JUST because they are in ESPN stories. Let’s look at the record here:
The Roaster Rogers
1. Kenny Rogers denies everything. That he had nothing to do with anything.
2. Yesterday he spills his guts. Why? Who is leaning on him? MSU? Is he feeling heat from the feds?
1. From ESPN: “John Bond, a former Mississippi State quarterback and teammate of Rogers who told ESPN.com last week that a man seeking money to sign Cam Newton had approached him, told ESPN.com [yesterday]: ‘My story hasn’t changed. I absolutely talked with Kenny Rogers, and there are phone records that will show that.'”
2. He lied right there. Twice in one sentence. His story HAS changed. On his second take of the story he said he never directly communicated with Rogers in 20+ years. But that was after he said that he’d directly talked to Rogers in the original report. His story has changed for a THIRD time.
This! This! is who we are all supposed to believe? These two slime balls? Can the FBI hook ’em up to something and ask ’em some questions please?!?!?
It would be nice to slap them with a gag order or something to just shut them up for a couple months. Not sure you can do that without a lawsuit. As truth is an affirmative defense to a defamation suit, which is what I would have immediately looked towards had I been a) Cecil Newton and b) completely innocent, I think a lot of AU fans are rightly more than a little nervous that there’s so little communication from the “good guys.” I seriously doubt AU’s program would willfully implode in this particular fashion over a JUCO guy who nobody thought was really THIS good (and everybody thought was a genuine risk). But. I … uh … I dunno. Unless and until some sort of proof comes out showing Kenny Rogers is lying or Bond is lying or they’re both lying or something, there’s always going to be a bad cloud hanging o’er the program, because ESPN et al. are going to continue to run with the most salacious allegations they can find. Why not? That’s what media does. Crap draws eyeballs and sells ad space.
Van P in Illinois says
The phrase “the money was too much” has always struck me as meaning, “we asked MSU for money but they said the figure was too much and declined to pay, so I’m going elsewhere,” rather than meaning “the money AU is offering is too much.”
I realize Cam is done either way, of course.
It doesn’t matter if Cecil solicited Miss State if he didn’t get paid. If every player who had something solicited on their behalf was ruled ineligible then Vanderbilt would be the #1 team in the BCS. Any team could have a future opponents best player taken off the field by simply claiming that kid asked for something when we were recruiting him. It would be chaos.
And the Cecil vs Kenny Rogers angle hasn’t changed in all the new allegations. I’m sure Cecil is claiming that Rogers was scamming Miss State, and is now trying to cover himself since it will be proven that he did ask other key boosters for money. The only bombshell will be hearing someone other than Rogers claim to have been asked for money by Cecil. EVEN IF THAT HAPPENS, it won’t necessarily result in Cam being ruled ineligible since that would set a precedent of the NCAA allowing improprieties at School A effect a player who ended up signing with School B. That would be opening Pandora’s box.
Big A says
I think the NCAA will advise Auburn to sit him now. It doesnt necessarily mean Auburn is guilty of anything but they are slowly chipping away at this thing. I still don’t think Auburn paid anything but it’s looking more and more like Cecil was on the take. If they can somehow prove that Cam knew or Auburn knew, that would spell trouble. The question is, does Auburn dig its heels in and say F it, and keep playing him anyway?
Big A says
And brandon, I wonder that all the time, why can’t we have nice things? Maybe it was just too good to be true. It all did kind of seem like a dream.
Big A says
OK, 1 more thing. We know Kenny Rogers Roasters is shady as hell. What if he decided to try to make some money on Cam’s recruitment, approached some key boosters implying that the Newtons were asking for money, when in fact it was him all along who was trying to get some cash out of the deal. Hell, he may have even told Cecil about his plan, and maybe Cecil was willing to listen and when it all fell through, he went to Auburn. Thats all I can take for now.
From what I’ve read, it does matter if Cecil Newton solicited money, regardless of whether or not he received the money. The NCAA spokesperson said, “the solicitation of cash or benefits by a prospective student-athlete or another individual on his or her behalf is not allowed under NCAA rules.” That statement mentions only solicitation, not reception.
Here’s a quote from an Andy Bitter article, “According to the NCAA, a violation is committed the moment an athlete or athlete’s family solicits extra benefits.” One from Scarbinsky, “But an NCAA official said, in an e-mail, that it’s against NCAA rules for a player or someone on his behalf to even ask for money.”
I’ve read similar statements in other articles, but I don’t remember which. Apparently, most writers seem to be interpreting the rule that the player is ineliglble whether or not money changed hands.
I banned myself from buying anything with a Nike swoosh on it the day they signed with the Evil Empire and I’ve managed to stick with that.
I banned myself from The Finebaum Show over two years go and I’m managed to stick with that.
It’s going to be much harder to ban myself from ESPN and stick with it. I CAN however limit myself to turning on ESPN only when AU it playing on one of it’s networks. This one is going to be much harder to self impose but I’m giving it a shot.
Jim Cook says
Conspiracy theories aside (Big A), after hearing the evidence, it is rational to believe that Cecil did indeed solicit money from MSU, and because of that it is also rational to believe he did the same thing to Auburn. Whether anybody (booster) actually paid for Cam to attend Auburn is the $64 question.
If simply attempting to solicit money for services rendered but not actually recieving money is still a violation of NCAA rules and that act makes said player ineligible, then Cam is almost assuredly ineligible and has been all year. The responsible thing for the University to do is to sit Cam until this is decided one way or another.
If that act is not a violation, then Cam should play.
It’s not a complicated problem to solve. What does the rule say?
Jim, if every athlete who ever solicited anything had to sit, there’d be no way to field teams in D1. Anyway, it’s a question of proof and credibility, also. Does the NCAA really want to get into that business? It looks to me like they’ve known about this for quite a while, and haven’t uncovered or been informed of anything other than “well so-and-so said X” or “Cecil Newton said Y” … there’s no paper trail or anything to back it up (apparently? yet? who knows).
Like Slive said, we should be fair to the kid (who just happens to be really, really talented and trying to win himself a Heisman), there’s no responsibility to sit him just because some random accusations are flying around in the (complete) absence (at least to this point) of any actual evidence of anything.
What beer_motor said. Also, as I’ve pointed out before, it’s hard to believe Auburn itself has done anything wrong in that all of these reporters have probably spent the last week digging as hard as they can for ANY link to Auburn doing anything wrong and have found NOTHING.