MSU AD Says Cam Affair Like ‘Wrestling With Pigs’

As the NCAA investigation into Mississippi State’s recruitment of Cam Newton lingers on, Saturday school athletic director Scott Stricklin offered an unflattering characterization of the situation to ESPN Gator Bowl sideline reporter Todd Harris.

During the Mississippi State-Michigan football game telecast, Harris said of an earlier conversation he had with Stricklin:

“I also had a chance to talk to him (Stricklin) about the Cam Newton affair, how that all went down. And he told me he feels like Mississippi State is on very solid ground (with the NCAA). “But one very telling comment that he told me, and I don’t know if this would be a homily or what, he said, ‘you know, when  you wrestle with pigs, you’re going to get dirty, but we’re pretty comfortable with where we are at Mississippi State.’”

Hard to take Stricklin’s characterization of the situation as anything but derogatory towards the Newtons. Read more…

Miami Was ‘Turned Off By Dan Mullen’s Big Ego’

Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD has what seems like a frantic and misguided attempt at damage control by Univ. of Miami officials after the school went from the prospect of hiring Jon Gruden to settling for the former coach of Temple, Al Golden.

Dan Mullen Billboard

(New MSU billboard at Louisiana/Mississippi border via I-55)

Jackson:

A high-level trustee fully aware of how the search was done said, “We were not going to get a star, and it wasn’t a money thing. Why would [marquee coaches] leave any of their great programs” to take another college job? “Florida didn’t get one either. We hired the best person that wasn’t in the top 20.”

UM thought Nebraska’s Bo Pelini had some interest, but he changed his mind. And UM was turned off by Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen’s big ego, with one trustee saying he acts like he invented the game.

Exhale Alabama fans, UM won’t be coming after your coach anytime soon.

While I think Golden was a reasonable hire by Miami, to think that UM would be “turned off” by a coach’s ego when its trying to resurrect a program from the dead tells you all you need to know about the people in charge in Coral Gables.

In other words, if I’m Golden, I’m renting.

And to justify the UM hire by claiming that Florida also didn’t land a”marquee” name is, well, embarrassing.

The reason UF AD Jeremy Foley hired Will Muschamp isn’t because Florida had no shot at bigger names. Muschamp got the gig because Foley clearly didn’t want a marquee coach.

Foley’s method in his last three hires has been to tab relative unknowns so he has more control over the coach and if things pan out, more personal credit for elevating the program.

That worked with Urban Meyer and failed with Ron Zook.

The only thing we know about Muschamp at this moment is that if he does well, Foley will once again be lauded as a master administrator. (That isn’t to say I agree with Foley’s approach.)

The Florida job is light years better than the Miami job, which you could make a case isn’t much different than where Al Golden just came from - save the rich recruiting territory and now-faded program prestige.

Meanwhile, wondering how Mississippi State feels about Dan Mullen right about now?

Dan Mullen Billboard

I’ve been told the school has plans for seven more billboards like the one above across the state. This one just went up two days ago.

So what about Ole Miss?

Pete Boone Ole Miss Athletic Director Tweets About Yoko Ono

Best I can tell, the extent of its marketing efforts involves athletic director Pete Boone Tweeting about Yoko Ono.

Follow Brooks on Twitter for real-time updates.

Confirmed: Cam Newton Was Coached At Auburn

On November 1, four days before Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com broke the news that Cam Newton’s father Cecil Newton had solicited money for his son’s football services to Mississippi State, Cam and his father Cecil confirmed to Lars Anderson of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED that father Cecil alone made the decision for Cam to choose Auburn.

Cam Newton was coached at Auburn

Last December the choice of which college to attend came down to two schools—Auburn and Mississippi State. Newton preferred Starkville because of his close relationship with Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, who had been Newton’s offensive coordinator at Florida.

But Cecil thought his son should choose Auburn, which had an experienced offensive line (four starters were returning) and was only a two-hour drive from Atlanta.

Newton let his father make the final decision, and a few days before Christmas, while sitting at the dinner table in his brother’s house in Jacksonville, Cecil Sr. uttered two words that would radically alter the college football landscape: “It’s Auburn.”

Yesterday during an interview on ESPN television, Cam Newton said of that same decision: Read more…

Does Mullen’s Wife Hold Key To Cam’s Eligibility?

While the NCAA has temporarily rendered Cam Newton eligible to play football for Auburn, the governing body has made (somewhat) clear that its investigation into Newton’s recruitment is ongoing.

Dan and Megan Mullen

(Dan and Megan Mullen)

Though there’s a good chance none of the controversy involving Newton’s recruitment ever would’ve come to light had Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com not broken the news on November 5 that a third party, later identified as Kenny Rogers, solicited money from Mississippi State in exchange for Cam Newton’s enrollment at MSU.

Excerpt:

During the height of star quarterback Cam Newton’s recruitment out of junior college last year, a man who said he represented Newton allegedly was soliciting a six-figure payment to secure his signature on a national letter of intent, ESPN.com has learned.

Rogers later said that he had asked for the cash after he was directed to do so by Newton’s father Cecil. Rogers also subsequently noted that Newton made his solicitation known to Mississippi State coaches during an in-person meeting in November, 2009.

Less than a week after ESPN.com broke the Newton story, Joe Schad of ESPN.com reported the only story to date that points to Cam Newton having direct knowledge of the “pay-for-play plan” concocted by his father and Rogers for his football services.

Excerpt:

Two sources who recruit for Mississippi State said that Cecil Newton and his son, quarterback Cam Newton, said in separate phone conversations that his college choice would be part of a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.

Mississippi State compliance officials relayed the alleged conversations to Southeastern Conference compliance officials in January, according to two other sources close to the football program.

The SEC office later disputed that it had been made aware by MSU of such phone calls.

In its ruling yesterday, the NCAA essentially confirmed the original Nov. 5 ESPN.com report that Cecil Newton and Kenny Rogers actively marketed Cam Newton’s football skills to Mississippi State. But the NCAA did not comment on ESPN.com’s story that Cam and his father acknowledged taking money in phone calls to two MSU recruiters.

Of course, if the NCAA were to find that those calls took place, Cam Newton’s college football career would be over.

Since the ESPN.com report of the alleged Newton phone calls, no one affiliated with Mississippi State has questioned the veracity of the report, but clearly Schad’s claim has gotten little to no traction from the NCAA and the media.

Why? Read more…

ESPN: MSU Coaches Leaked Damning Cam Calls

If there was any doubt who leaked the most recent, and damaging story about Cam Newton and his father Cecil to ESPN earlier this week, there isn’t now.

Mullen verifies no recruiters besides MSU coaches

Wednesday ESPN’s Joe Schad reported:

Two sources who recruit for Mississippi State said that Cecil Newton and his son, quarterback Cam Newton, said in separate phone conversations that his college choice would be part of a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.

Thanks to information provided by Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen on the record to the media yesterday - and if Schad’s report is true - those sources have been indisputably verified as Mississippi State football coaches.

NEMS360.com Mississippi State beat reporter Brad Locke Tweeted this yesterday during Mullen’s media teleconference:

Mullen, when asked if anyone besides coaches are registered recruiters for MSU: “No.”

Brandon Marcello, who also covers the daily Mississippi State football beat for the CLARION (MS) LEDGER, was the one who asked Mullen the above question. He also noted:

An ESPN.com report cited “recruiters” as sources late Tuesday night. Those recruiters say, according to ESPN.com, that Newton and his father, Cecil Newton, admitted to a “pay-for-play plan” in separate phone conversations with MSU recruiters.

The term “recruiters” raised questions and I asked Mullen today if anyone besides his assistant coaches were registered as recruiters with the NCAA. His answer was a short and pointed “no.”

I’m still attempting to contact MSU to see who is registered as a recruiter with the NCAA. My phone calls have, so far, gone unanswered.

That information could easily be had via a Freedom Of Information act, as Mississippi State is a publicly-funded state institution, but there’s no need. Mullen already confirmed it himself.

So now that we’ve established that MSU football coaches leaked the information about the Newton phone calls to Schad - if his ESPN report is correct - then why did John Bond, who is not a member of the MSU coaching staff, officially report the information about other alleged recruiting impropriety involving Newton to Mississippi State - and then front the story on MSU’s behalf for ESPN?

As a refresher, here’s the original headline from ESPN.com from ESPN’s first report about possible Newton recruiting impropriety: “Cam Newton offered for cash in exchange for signing letter of intent, ex-Mississippi State quarterback said - ESPN

John Bond fronted initial ESPN report on Newton, Rogers

That headline makes it sound like Bond was the source of the complaint to MSU against Newton, but from what we know now - including Bond confirming there “were two people” between him and alleged middeman Kenny Rogers - was he really?

In Bond’s original, on the record statement to ESPN last week about alleged impropriety involving the recruitment of Newton, he himself did not name Rogers as the middleman allegedly soliciting money on Newton’s behalf.

Instead it was ESPN, in that same initial report, that identified Rogers as the alleged go-between. (Without Rogers being named, ESPN really had no story.)

So how did ESPN get the information that Rogers was initially involved?

Now that we indisputably have verified - if ESPN’s report is accurate - that the MSU coaches leaked the Newton phone call info to ESPN, and that Bond said there were two people between him and alleged middleman Rogers, and Joe Schad’s source for the ESPN Newton phone call story was “two sources who recruit for Mississippi State, is it unreasonable to think that the same coaches leaked the info about Rogers to ESPN for its first report?

And that those same MSU coaches then proceeded to hide behind Bond as the public front for the initial, ESPN breaking story about Newton and Rogers?

And what of ESPN in all of this? Why did Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach author the first story about Newton and then have Joe Schad report the second? Read more…

Speed Read: “The T.O. Show” Predictably Lousy

For those of you who didn’t watch “The T.O. Show” on VH1 last night, consider yourselves the lucky few: like the residents of Johnstown who weren’t washed away by the giant flood, you somehow missed out on being carried away in a torrent of filth, muck and debris. For those of us contractually obligated to watch the show (this is why you should read contracts before agreeing to become a blogger), there’s no Red Cross volunteers coming to our rescue. We’re left shaking on the banks of the river as we try to comprehend what we just saw.

Terrell Owens

Maybe I’m being a bit over the top. But man, it wasn’t good.

To recap: Terrell Owens has a great body (honed by only the finest rubber bands your $19.95 can buy), and enjoys spending time showing it off. A lot of time showing it off. As in, going shirtless for about three-quarters of the show.  But, as you would hear any good pitchman say, that’s not all.

Terrell Owens and friends

No VH1 “Celeb Reality” show can just be about following a celebrity around, so there has to be some sort of convoluted plot, and here the one for “The T.O. Show”: his “best friends” and “publicists” Kita Williams and Monique Jackson have convinced him to move to Los Angeles during the off-season to “find himself.” Which - according to the first episode - means the following things:

  • Spending more than $100,000 on new diamond earrings.
  • Hooking up with the trashy real estate agent who rents him the mansion he’s staying in during the show.  (I know that the market is tough, but this seems like excessively aggressive sales tactics, although maybe now is the right time to buy.)
  • Going out to a club with said earrings, meeting a bunch of trashy women and inviting them home to “party” with him.
  • His half-assed attempt to get back together with his ex-fiancee, who seems like the only semi-intelligent person on the show by getting the hell out of Dodge.

Somehow T.O. has managed to create a show with less likable characters than “Rock of Love” and even fewer morally redeeming qualities as “I Love Money.” It’s an exercise in egotistical wish fulfillment - T.O. is famous and wants a show, so someone had to give it to him - and the early reviews have been particularly brutal:

Terrell Owens is one beautiful man and he knows it, oh, Lord, he knows it, and so do his publicists, Kita Williams and Monique Jackson, the forces behind “The T.O. Show,” which premieres tonight on VH1. Why else would the publicity art include a nude portrait of the football star, why else would Owens spend at least 60% of his time in front of the camera shirtless?

Good thing too, because the sculpted pecs, mighty shoulders and perfect abs are just about the only thing the show has going for it. No, wait, I take that back; he has a lovely smile as well.  - LOS ANGELES TIMES

Your mama never warned you to watch out for reality TV, but it can be poison. You sense its brain destructiveness when you get up in the morning, thinking, “I can’t wait to see if T.O. makes it with the real estate agent.”

The T.O. Show is so shallow mosquitoes couldn’t breed in it, though it appears some of the humans are trying to, as Terrell Owens joins up with two publicists, who are also supposed to be his best friends. -PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

What VH1 gets out of the deal, frankly, is less clear, other than a strange amalgam of soap-opera pathos and jock-like bravado, with Owens taking marching orders from his ubiquitous “publicists,” who, given their time commitment to the athlete, surely must have no other clients. - VARIETY

…and don’t even get me started on T.O.’s bodyguard Pablo. Just…no.

Meanwhile, while”The T.O. Show” was premiering, another type of muck was being dredged up in Pittsburgh. PRO FOOTBALL TALK reports that Ben Roethlisberger is the subject of a civil suit filed by a hotel employee in Washoe County, NV who says that in July 2008, the Super Bowl MVP called her into his room to fix her TV, and then “forced her to have sex with him.

Ben Roethlisberger

Using a little bit of local knowledge, based on the locations given and the date, I’m going to assume this allegedly happened when Roethlisberger was in South Lake Tahoe last year for the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. And if this sounds a lot to you like the allegations made against Kobe Bryant in Colorado a couple of years ago…you’re not the only one. Of course, the big difference here is that these are civil allegations - no criminal charges have ever been filed by Roethlisberger’s accuser.

Finally, former North Carolina wide receiver and point guard Jason Holley was revealed as the winner of Michael Irvin’s “4th and Long” reality TV show on Spike, and with it has earned a shot with the Dallas Cowboys during their training camp. Is it possible to do a reality show about football and not have the Cowboys involved? So help me, if Alvin Harper gets a show, I’m never watching TV again.

Other sports stories from last night:

  • ESPN’s Jayson Stark has the details of Pedro Martinez’s contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, and as expected it’s heavily incentive-laden. He is only guaranteed $1 million for the rest of the season, but could make more than double that if he meets certain longevity and performance-based milestones.
  • Pedro Martinez, Nelson de la Rosa

    (Can Pedro keep his midget well-cared for on $1 million a year?)

  • Anyone who questions whether or not Jeremy Mayfield is hooked on crystal meth - as NASCAR and his stepmother claims - should check out this video from a few years ago of him giddily blowing up watermelons and full gas cans. Nope, that doesn’t sound like something a meth head would do at all.

  • Maybe John Smoltz should have retired last season so he could go into the Hall of Fame with former Braves teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine instead of trying a comeback with the Red Sox, if last night is any indication: he gave up three home runs as the Rangers (and another former Braves pitcher in Kevin Millwood) beat Boston, 6-3.
  • A few weeks ago, Quinten Richardson was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Los Angeles Clippers, which pretty much defines “sideways movement.” Last night the Clippers turned around and shipped him to the Minnesota Timberwolves, somehow going from bad to worse. On the plus side, Mark Madsen’s back in Lipstick City. Watch out on the dance floor.
  • I guess it’s a job: former big league manager Terry Collins lands a new gig - leading the Duluth Huskies of the Northwoods League. Is this a step up or a step down from managing Team China?
  • What to do if you’re eight months pregnant but want to hang out at the sports bar watching your favorite team play. Get a Maternity Jersey, of course. Or as they are otherwise known, “Rich Garces Style.”
  • To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, the Houston Astros wore special patches and caps. In addition, they also went out and got loaded on Tang and vodka.
  • Mississippi State might have a first-year coach in Dan Mullen, but they’re already in midseason form in terms of arrests. Leading running back Anthony Dixon has been arrested on a DUI charge, the fifth Bulldog to be nabbed by police this off-season.
  • Police have arrested a man who shot and paralyzed former NFL player Michael Woods 27 years ago and charged him with aggravated murder after Woods died from a related kidney infection six weeks ago,
  • Tom Watson might have lost out on his bid to win the British Open at age 59, but his equipment sponsor Adams Golf might be a big winner, as their stock price has risen 18 percent since Watson took the tournament lead on Friday.

Who was the least likable person on “The T.O. Show”

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Mississippi St. Auctions Off Head Coaching Gig

So when I first saw the headline “Head Football Coach at Mississippi State Up For Bid” on FRIENDS OF THE PROGRAM, I assumed that this was just a logical extension of the recruiting process in the SEC. Why bother fooling around with “supporting” the players when you can just go ahead and purchase the coach outright? Kudos to the Bulldogs for finally being upfront about it.

You could be the MSU head coach

(This could be you. Unless you are Sylvester Croom.)

But it turns out that isn’t the case. Instead, the school is offering one lucky (and rich) fan the opportunity to be the “head coach” of the White team in the Maroon-White Spring Game later this month. Which is a dream come true for…someone? People must be interested, since the top bid so far is $1,500, and there are still 12 days to go until bidding closes.

Read more…