Nashville-based 7-on-7 football coach Byron De’Vinner — a key figure in the NCAA’s ongoing look at Memphis area recruiting — told the syndicated Mississippi radio show “Head To Head” that he witnessed a “handshake” between a Mississippi State booster and Bulldog freshman defensive back Will Redmond. When the shake was complete, Redmond — then an MSU recruit — had about $200 in his hand. And ex-receivers coach Angelo Mirando was aware of the payment.
For the backstory on Redmond, De’Vinner — who promised to come clean with what he knew of the NCAA investigation in late-August — and Mirando — who resigned abruptly right before the season started — click right here. The guys at the “Head to Head” show have also posted a July letter in which MSU disassociated itself from a booster. You can also listen to the full 12-minute interview with De’Vinner right here.
Following his appearance on the radio show (congrats to those guys, as I’ve been on with them many times), De’Vinner confirmed to The Jackson Clarion-Ledger that he had indeed been the man on the show. While on the air he said:
“Will Redmond is a kid that was basically taken advantage of by a booster and by an assistant coach…
(After refusing to name the booster, De’Vinner said) But did I physically see inappropriate benefits? Yes, I did…
I saw where the booster sent him a jacket through the mail and you know, things of that nature. He lined up an official visit and lined up other things inappropriately.”
De’Vinner denied that the booster bought a 2010 Ford Mustang for Redmond, which was the topic of another story posted by The Dispatch newspaper of Columbus, Starkville and The Golden Triangle last month.
De’Vinner — who coached Redmond in 7-0n-7 ball — said that he interviewed for a job in the Mississippi State athletic department in January. Hmmm. Just before signing day when Redmond inked with State. What an interesting time for an interview.
De’Vinner says that he is a friend of Redmond’s family, but in his attempt to clear his own name he certainly seems to be putting the player’s career in jeopardy (if it weren’t already in jeopardy). Some will no doubt claim that De’Vinner is simply getting back at MSU because he was not hired by State after his January interview.
You can also be certain that a lot of jokes will be made regarding that $200 handshake. “No wonder MSU couldn’t afford Cam Newton.” And, no, I didn’t come up with that. It was waiting for me in my email inbox this morning.
De’Vinner says he’s cooperated fully with NCAA investigators. He also has a bit of a feud going with Redmond’s high school coaches at Memphis East. Assuming they’re lobbing their own accusations, State’s football program could get caught in the crossfire.
For now, State has already disassociated a booster and seen the receivers coach tied to this matter resign. The school says it’s cooperated with the NCAA on this matter. For now, Redmond’s eligibility seems to be the biggest issue. But if the NCAA finds that Redmond received a lot more than a $200 handshake or that State, its booster, and/or Mirando were handing out cash to more players other than just Redmond, things could get very nasty in Starkville very quick.
The shame of this? Mississippi State has a legitimate shot at starting its season 7-0. Now the team will have to block out the rumors and accusations flying around their program.
UPDATE — ESPN’s Joe Schad claims to have gotten in touch with Mirando. The ex-coach’s comment: “I’ve read what’s been written but I have nothing to say about that.”