These are the questions that arose for me in light of the USA Today's oddsmaker Danny Sheridan reporting on Paul Finebaum's radio show that the NCAA thinks it found Cam Newton's bag man.
Who are Danny Sheridan's sources, and why did they want this information public?
Sheridan claimed his sources on this are in the NCAA and he's had them for 25 years. I don't know the NCAA org chart well enough to guess who these people are, but I can't imagine there are many people who have worked there for at least 25 years. Also, no one stays at a low level job for two and a half decades. These people are serious NCAA insiders who likely are quite important within the association.
So why do they want this information about investigators possibly having ID'd Cam Newton's bag man out there? The NCAA has a longstanding policy of not commenting on investigations so that information doesn't mess with their ability to collect information. Plus, none of the other recent cases have had big leaks like this come from the NCAA directly. My only supposition is that they think this information going public will help them get this suspected bag man to confess.
UPDATE: Sheridan clarified that his sources are not inside the NCAA, but rather they know people inside the NCAA. He swears by their accuracy, but that's a detail that would have been good to know the first time around.
Why are these guys talking to Sheridan, and why did they pick him to leak it?
Sheridan makes the odds for the USA Today. Gregg Doyel made this point on Twitter: why exactly does an oddsmaker have well-placed sources in the NCAA? Isn't that a problem?
Also, if he's had these sources for 25 years, he wouldn't be talking about what they said if they asked him not to. These people must not have asked him to keep a lid on their conversations. So why are they talking to him rather than the journalists who have been working on reporting this story all along?
Who is this suspected bag man?
I don't know who the bag man is, but a bag man is someone who delivers illegal (in NCAA terms, at least) money to recruits or players. He's the one with the bag full o' cash. Get it?
As for the suspected bag man here, I don't have the foggiest clue. Whoever it is will now be on the NCAA's black list though. He's never going to get close to athletes again, so he might as well give up and confess. It all depends on whether the alleged financier can pay him enough to keep quiet, I suspect. It's not a high school coach, as Newton was coming out of a JUCO. I doubt it's someone connected to an agent, unless this financier was an agent. That narrows down the pool considerably.
My best guess is it's someone like Kenny Rogers, the former athlete who was effectively Cecil Newton's agent when trying to shake down Mississippi State for money. A former Auburn athlete would probably be loyal enough to keep quiet and would probably have an existing relationship with the suspected financier. Again though, that's pure speculation on my part.
Who is the suspected financier?
It's not someone working for the university, as Sheridan said pretty plainly that "Auburn had nothing to do with this". Unfortunately, that's about the only thing he spoke plainly about when discussing the alleged financial backer to this alleged deal for Newton's services.
The suspected financier used the suspected bag man so that his fingerprints wouldn't be directly on the alleged deal. At first he said he wouldn't describe this financier as a rogue alumni, but later he did call him an alumni. So is the financial backer a non-rogue alum? That would certainly be bad.
The real question is whether he's a booster. If he is, then Auburn is in Albert Means territory. Of course if he's not a booster, and potentially not an alumnus, then what is he doing paying six figures to steer a player to Auburn?
UPDATE: In a later segment, Sheridan calls the alleged financier a "wealthy supporter of Auburn." He says doesn't know if the person in question is an Auburn alumnus or booster, but a "wealthy supporter" will get termed a booster by the NCAA. He also ups the history of his sources to 30 years and says he's broken real news in the past based on their information.
What will come of this?
It's too early to say just yet. The way Sheridan makes it sound, the entire case hangs on the alleged bag man coming forward and confessing. If he won't do that, then Sheridan says the case will go away inside of six months.
All we can do now is sit back and see if this leak has the intended effect of getting the guy to confess. If he does do that, watch out. Newton's eligibility for the last season will be gone, Auburn's 14 wins will take a permanent vacation, and the Heisman trust will likely vacate his trophy just as it did with Reggie Bush. And that will only be the start.