THE BALLAD OF CAM NEWTON
Silence is golden
Cam and Cecil Newton's lawyer is adamant about one thing: Cam Newton was not aware that anyone was talking about money -- not that anyone was necessarily talking about money. Just hypothetically, if someone was talking about money. Oh, and he's going to sue Florida.
All this in an interview that WSB held with the lawyer outside of his office. [VIDEO]
Some excerpts transcript as written by Charles Goldberg, which seemed to be accurate when I watched the interview:
Are you saying Cam Newton knew nothing about any money --
"I don't think there's any question that Cam Newton knew nothing about any money discussions, if any discussions were had." ...
What about the reports that Cam Newton's academic situation at the University of Florida?
"Cam Newton's grades and academic standing at the University of Florida are protected matters. And to the extent that the University of Florida has violated a federal statute, I have some understanding to what the University of Florida's address is and at some point in time they'll hear from me."
There is never any mention in the video of a denial that Cecil Newton asked for money, but the question also never appears to have been asked. Just another piece of the still-unclear puzzle.
Kenny Rogers attorney: Kenny Rogers is stupid
Which is probably not exactly the thing that the FBI wants being printed in the paper if they ever try to make a criminal case out of this, but we are where we are.
"We are unequivocally saying that the entire thing was solicited by Cecil Newton and, unfortunately, (Rogers) stupidly became a rubber hose and passed it along," said Doug Zeit, Rogers’ attorney, in a phone interview with The Clarion-Ledger on Thursday. "That’s what (Rogers) did. (He) never asked for money, other than what Cecil Newton wanted and how he wanted it."
None of this is particularly surprising. Zeit has already claimed that Newton was the one behind the pay-for-play scheme, so there's no reason to change his story now. He does confirm the text message with the payment schedule, and also ties that to Cecil Newton.
Then there are the three-person calls between Newton, Rogers and Bill Bell, which Zeit also confirms. Then again, he's a lawyer for a man of questionable character who is stupid by his own lawyer's admission, so take that into account.
McGregor might not be involved
The Milton McGregor angle appears to have been a fishing expedition. There are no wiretaps connecting the two investigations, though that doesn't necessarily mean there was no connection. Still, it makes it seem unlikely there's anything concrete there.
Wiretaps made as part of the recent federal investigation into vote-buying in the Alabama Legislature contain no conversations that connect Victoryland owner Milton McGregor to quarterback Cam Newton's recruitment to Auburn, according to multiple sources familiar with the statehouse probe.
It looks like the FBI was not ready for this angle to get out -- or was just seeing if there was some information there -- so they tried to walk it back by having a few background sources tell Goldberg there was nothing there.
Georgia might defeat Ole Miss without playing them
Remember that whole "Ole Miss is going to play Boise State in 2011" story? Yeah, forget that. ESPN is once again poaching one conference team's premiere non-conference opponent and giving it to someone else, much like they did by tapping North Carolina for LSU in this year's Georgia Dome game and leaving South Carolina with a game against Southern Miss.
The new suitor is Georgia, also in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta, and Ole Miss could get BYU in return. Given how BYU and Boise are going in different directions, I guess Ole Miss fans' perspective will be a question of whether the Rebels want a good opponent or an easier win. Don't forget that ESPN now has a stake in BYU's future, which could be playing into this deal.
Also losing an opponent in all this shuffling: Louisville, which would probably see it's home-and-home series with the Dawgs canceled. ESPN: Making college football teams get out of its way since 2008.
As for Georgia officials ...
McGarity said he has talked to ESPN about scheduling possible games, but said he’s done that for years.
"I’ll tell you Monday," Richt said, foreshadowing a possible announcement.
Asked if Louisville was still on the schedule, McGarity said: "Right now, yes."[para]
The apparent leak in all this was Pete Boone, the Ole Miss AD, who tweeted that he would have important scheduling news but was forced to bump things back a bit.
Sorry about the delay announcing football's future schedule. A lot of moving parts and ESPN has a few loose ends.
Over at DawgsOnline, Groo has mixed feelings about the move, but thinks it could make sense.
When you look at the impact of the deal over two seasons, it begins to make sense. In 2012, the Dawgs are scheduled to return the game with Louisville. If that deal is canceled, the game gets replaced with a home game against a team more in line with McGarity’s preferences (i.e., a non-conference cupcake). So you’d gain back the home game you gave up in 2011. Instead of a home-and-away with Louisville, you’d have a neutral-and-home with Boise and whichever team fills the 2012 spot.
The Mayor is slightly less ambivalent and comes down on a different side.
At the end of the day, I would prefer it if this move didn't happen in this way at this time. I don't see the logic of playing a regular-season game in the Georgia Dome against anyone other than a traditional rival from the ACC, I don't see the urgency of rearranging everything so hurriedly rather than arranging a future matchup down the road, and I don't see how this can be squared with Greg McGarity's stated objective of scheduling more home games.
Oh, yeah, Alabama played a football game last night
The Tide defeated Georgia State, 63-7. I'm not really sure what else to say about this game, as it was a Thursday night showdown with an exceptionally puffy cupcake.
A reason to like Verne
I know some people don't like the style or occasional gaffe by Verne Lundquist, but I find him far more tolerable than most of the ESPN crews. (Emphasis on most -- I like Musburger/Herbstriet and Nessler/Blackledge, but the bench is not particularly deep.) But we all have something in common with Verne: He loves SEC football.
"I got hooked right away," Lundquist said. "I’ve told people since it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me, professionally. ... You couldn’t drag me back to the NFL now, and they know that in New York."
Which is fine by me. I'm not sure about the rest of you.
And that should just about kill the WAC
Hawaii is now bolting for the Mountain West, which has at this point become Lucy to the WAC's Charlie Brown.
UH President M.R.C. Greenwood said the school has been asked to "enter discussions for the Warrior Football team to join the Mountain West Conference." ...
A statement by the MWC said, "The Mountain West Conference Board of Directors has authorized Commissioner Craig Thompson to begin discussions with the University of Hawaii regarding possible membership in the sport of football only." ...
Prior to the press conference, WAC commissioner Karl Benson said he had not been advised by UH of an impending change in membership.
After that, Commissioner Benson's head exploded.
Do not mess with the Mountain West or Craig Thompson, because they will firebomb you out of existence. Remember, this all started after the WAC successfully convinced BYU to kamikaze itself into football independence and join the WAC in everything -- until the Mountain West raided the WAC for Fresno State and Nevada. BYU did end up leaping off the ledge that its independence, but it placed its other programs elsewhere.
The WAC had seemed to recover by cobbling together a bunch of FCS schools to move up to FBS, but now that plan is in danger. Does anyone in Alaska play college football?