Cameron Newton, the quarterback for the No. 2 ranked Auburn Tigers, has been making headlines all season for his dynamic play on the field. So much so, that he is widely considered to be the front-runner for the coveted Heisman Trophy. Now it seems Cam is making a little noise away from the field, and not in a good way.
According to ESPN.com’s Matt Forde, Chris Low, and Mark Schlabach, a man saying he represented Newton out of Blinn Junior College was asking payment to secure his signature on a letter of intent. It was going to cost a school upwards of $200,000 to nab the 6’6” 250 pound QB. Needless to say, this has some folks raising their eyebrows, yours truly included. So who is this “man?”
According to the story by Forde, Low, and Schlabach, John Bond—a former Miss State QB—named his former teammate Kenny Rogers. Not the actor. No, not the pitcher either. Yes, there is actually another Kenny Rogers. According to Bond, Rogers contacted him to announce that it would “take some cash to get Cam.” Rogers operates a ‘matchmaking’ firm to help high school athletes be paired with college teams. Well, that’s not sketchy at all. Furthermore, Rogers is officially listed as an agent. Not good either.
But here’s where the story stops making sense, at least to me.
There doesn’t seem to be any overt implication towards Auburn University, Cam’s current school and the team that Newton chose over Mississippi State. It seems like the school that actually landed Newton would be the focus of the investigation/story. But it doesn’t seem to be. But why would Newton take money from Mississippi State and then choose Auburn. Either they both paid him, or no one did. But I still can’t fathom why Mississippi State would part with the money unless they were sure Cam was signing with them. I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around it all.
Pretty much everyone officially involved with the investigation is staying tight-lipped, mostly denying to comment. Gene Chizik, Cam’s current head coach at Auburn, announced on his radio show, “Unfortunately, I can’t comment on it. But here’s what I can say and I will say this very loud and very clear: Cameron Newton is eligible at Auburn University. Period. End of story.” That’s a pretty strong statement. Another strong statement is this: Cameron Newton is playing. This investigation has apparently been going on since July and Auburn and the SEC were made aware of it, according to sources. If there was any wrongdoing, it seems like the Tigers would have taken preventative measures and kept Newton out of the lineup.
Cecil Newton, Cam’s father, has been pointed to as a possible reason for the money. Cecil is a pastor in Atlanta and has needed some money for church repairs, which was in danger of being completely demolished for not meeting with Newnan City Council building codes. While Cam’s father acknowledges meeting Rogers, he firmly denies any wrong doing, saying, “If Rogers tried to solicit money from Mississippi State, he did it on his own, without our knowledge.” Cecil Newton says he talked to Rogers a few times on the phone after son Cam left Florida, but never met the agent in question until Cam’s official visit to Starkville. It was Newton’s father who apparently had the final swing vote to convince his son to go to Auburn, where he thought Cam would have a better chance of success, according to a Sports Illustrated article. Cam was leaning towards Mississippi State because of his relationship with current head coach Dan Mullen, who was Newton’s offensive coordinator while the two were at Florida.
The Newtons were not officially notified by the NCAA of any investigation until a month ago, Cecil Newton told ESPN.com. That seems a bit odd too. If the school and the conference were notified, why not the guilty party?
The NCAA will no doubt investigate this matter thoroughly. With Newton and the Tigers having such a high profile season, this simply cannot be ignored. However, investigation does not imply guilt.
I’m hoping that Newton has learned his lesson, as he and his family seem so adamant in expressing, but I’ve been burned before. To this writer, everything seems to be pointing in favor of Cam, not against. The unfortunate thing of it all is that no matter how it turns out, this will almost certainly leave a little tarnish on Cam’s season, specifically his Heisman hopes. If this is just a ploy by Rogers to get some money and cover some of his own debts and wrongdoings, then shame on him. Either way, with all that has happened this season with player-agent relations, the NCAA has to take some action. What that action is, I can’t say.
As for Cam, I’m cheering for you.
John Easterling writes the X’s & O’s blog for Birmingham Weekly. Please send your comments to email@example.com.