On April 20, 2011, the Auburn football program landed a verbal commitment from highly-touted Kentucky high school quarterback prospect Zeke Pike.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound quarterback from Edgewood, Ky., picked the Tigers over Michigan, Arkansas, Clemson, North Carolina, Tennessee, Southern California, Purdue, Florida State, Miami and Penn State.
At the time of Pike’s verbal commitment, which was an enormous recruiting coup for Auburn, Pike was asked if he had been concerned about Auburn assistant coaches abandoning the team thanks to the possibility that the school’s football program could be hit with NCAA sanctions.
“They (Auburn) just won a national championship and they have one guy on their staff who left for the NFL and that’s their defensive line coach (Tracey Rocker). If they thought they were going to be in any kind of NCAA (trouble) I think a lot of their coaches would have left.
“Coach (Gus) Malzahn their offensive coordinator turned down $15 million to stay there (head coaching offer from Vanderbilt).
“Coach Trooper (Taylor), their receivers coach, turned down his favorite team of all-time, the Dallas Cowboys, to stay there.
“Whatever, let people say what they’re going to say. That’s a Mississippi State problem, that’s not an Auburn problem.”
Malzahn did receive a reported $15 million offer to take over the Vanderbilt football program, a long-noted coaching graveyard because of high academic standards and lacking facilities.
Pike’s statement about the so-called “Mississippi State problem” is a reference to the fact that Cam Newton’s father Cecil Newton has admitted to the NCAA that he solicited MSU coaches for a payment of up to $180,000 in exchange for his son signing to play football for the Bulldogs. (Cam Newton later committed to Auburn, obviously.)
Because of Cecil Newton’s admission, the NCAA rendered Cam Newton ineligible for one day, then reinstated him for the remainder of the 2010 season.
While Pike’s statement about Malzahn may or may not be accurate, at the very least it isn’t completely unreasonable. Likewise his supposition that Mississippi State may not yet be in clear with the NCAA as it pertains to the recruitment of Cam and Cecil Newton. After all, MSU didn’t report any NCAA irregularities involving Cecil Newton to the SEC or NCAA until after Cam had signed with Auburn.
In other words, even after MSU coaches knew of Cecil Newton’s NCAA violation - which directly involved Cecil’s solicitation of them - the Bulldogs tried to lure Cam Newton to Starkville to the very end.
But from what I was told by two sources inside the Dallas Cowboys organization today, Pike’s comment about Auburn wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor and the NFL team is dead, flat false. Read more…