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ESPN: Cam Newton, Family Offered Pay-for-Play to Mississippi State, Said 'The Money Was Too Much' at Auburn

This is going to be a little more difficult to explain away.

Prior to Newton's commitment to Auburn, one of the recruiters said Cecil Newton told him it would take "more than a scholarship" to bring his son to Mississippi State, a request the source said the school would not meet. Cecil Newton also referred the recruiter to a third person that would provide more specifics, the source said.

After Newton committed to Auburn, another source said an emotional Cam Newton phoned another recruiter to express regret about his change of commitment from Mississippi State, stating that his father Cecil had chosen Auburn for him because "the money was too much."

Obviously, we'll have more on all of this in Sprints tomorrow, but let's run down a few of the things that this story indicates.

First, it's categorically different than the earlier John Bond-Kenny Rogers story. In that case, it was pretty easy to find a plausible honest explanation for the story: Rogers was an alleged huckster who might have been running a scam on Mississippi State boosters. If the Newtons were involved in actually asking for and then accepting money, the idea of a "good" storyline for Auburn is gone.

Second, I think we can all stop looking at Gainesville now and figure out where these stories are coming from. Or, put another way: I don't believe Dan Mullen's denials any more. There is one person in a position to know both what happened to Newton at Florida and what happened in Mississippi State's recruitment of Newton, and that's Mullen. It makes more sense for these allegations to come from a division rival. Unless you want to go on a real flight of fancy and think that Meyer is so concerned about playing Auburn next year that he's either trying to get Newton to leave for the pros this year or get him declared ineligible. That seems like a lot of trouble to go to over one game. It also doesn't explain how he knows about all the recruiting allegations, unless he and Dan Mullen are even better friends than the usual mentor and longtime assistant would be.

Finally, this story is the one that should cause us to watch how Auburn responds. If it's a strongly worded denial, the team either believes the story isn't true or doesn't think that anyone can prove it. Silence or a non-denial denial means we should all be skeptical about how long the crystal trophy will remain in Auburn if Newton is hoisting it when the season is over.