De'Vinner is probably telling the truth about Redmond, but past that he seems like he's just making stuff up to serve his own purposes. MSU has been working with the NCAA on this investigation for months; they already knew about Redmond and would have known about Autry if De'Vinner were telling the truth about him.
Byron De’Vinner just keeps saying more and more and more.
The Tennessee-based former 7-on-7 coach of current Mississippi State freshman Will Redmond is on the stump. He’s talking more than Obama and Romney combined. And everyone he speaks to seems to get a little more information out of him.
For backstory: The NCAA is looking closely at Memphis. The NCAA is also looking closely at Mississippi State’s recruitment of Redmond, a Memphis native. MSU receivers coach Angelo Mirando resigned abruptly just before the season. NCAA investigators spoke with Redmond’s coaches at Memphis’ East High School who apparently pointed a finger at De’Vinner. De’Vinner attempted to clear his name by calling into a syndicated Magnolia State radio show on Tuesday and saying that he witnessed a booster give Redmond what amounted to a $200 handshake. Then De’Vinner opened up further to Yahoo! Sports.
Now, there’s more. De’Vinner told Nashville radio station WGFX-FM yesterday that “there’s more to this than a $100 or $200 handshake.”
Then last night, ESPN reported that De’Vinner told the network that now-disassociated State booster Robert Denton Herring provided illegal benefits to “five or six” Bulldog athletes. ESPN’s Joe Schad — Dan Mullen’s gotta love that — was told that juco defensive lineman Denico Autry was one of those who received improper gifts. “Robert Denton Herring loves State,” De’Vinner told Schad. “And he was going to do whatever he could to help State.” In addtion, De’Vinner said Herring wanted him to help steer other recruits of Georgia, LSU and Alabama in MSU’s direction. De’Vinner claims he would not.
Want more? Okay. De’Vinner also spoke with the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal yesterday and he told that paper that Redmond was offered $6,000 by Herring to “shut down” his recruitment and commit to the Bulldogs. He did say that Redmond “never took it… that’s my understanding, he didn’t.” But he then added: “I can’t say if he did or didn’t, because I didn’t see it.”
And apparently State wasn’t the only school willing to pay cash for Redmond. According to De’Vinner, another BCS school offered $60,000 for his services.
While others might have been interested in his player, De’Vinner only interviewed for a job at Mississippi State (so far as he’s admitted). He told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger that “the interview was supposed to be a formality to pretty much get Will (to sign).” There’s more:
“But after I interviewed it shocked them, because of the way I sold myself, and it went from being a formality to they wanted to hire me. Compliance wasn’t sure because I didn’t have any experience in the position, and so did the athletic director (Scott Stricklin).”
Meanwhile, when asked about the situation yesterday, Mullen said, “The NCAA is doing their work on that and we’re not commenting on any of that stuff at this time.”
Naturally, the more De’Vinner speaks, the more mud is being slung back in his direction. From year-old quotes from a Tennessee high school coach — “He attaches himself like a leech, then starts sucking your blood.” — to his own issues trying to land a coaching job at Tennessee high school past season — “… he had some licensing issues…” — The Tennessean reports that De’Vinner is seen by some as a saint, by others as a sinner.
One person mixed up in one of De’Vinner’s claims to Yahoo! Sports has already emailed The Clarion-Ledger to say that the 7-on-7 coach’s story regarding him is bogus:
“I have spoken with MSU compliance and the NCAA. They have asked that I remain silent until all the details are sorted out. The story is inaccurate.”
That story concerned Herring arranging for De’Vinner to receive free lodging and food while accompanying Redmond to Starkville on a recruiting visit.
Oh, almost forgot this one. De’Vinner also told The Clarion-Ledger that he recently spoke to Herring and that the ex-MSU booster wanted him “to keep quiet.” Ya think?
So what do we know?
1. The NCAA has reportedly talked to a lot of different folks — “nearly a dozen” Mississippi State recruits — about MSU’s recruiting practices. That’s not good for State.
2. Numerous people are taking shots at one another and — as we said yesterday — MSU could get caught in a crossfire of truths, half-truths and lies spit out by Redmond’s high school coaches, De’Vinner and others.
3. The school’s quick action in disassociating the booster Herring and in accepting the, ahem, “resignation” of ex-receivers coach Mirando certainly gives the appearance of impropriety. State fans are no doubt hoping the issue goes no further than Mirando-Herring-Redmond. Which is why De’Vinner’s suggestion to ESPN.com that multiple MSU players received benefits is troubling.
4. While Redmond has not played this year, Autry has. In both games. If it’s found that Autry received some sort of benefit from Herring — as De’Vinner suggests — it may turn out that MSU’s big breakthrough win against Auburn on Saturday will someday be erased from the record books. You can’t play ineligible players. If Autry received benefits, he’d be an ineligible player.
5. De’Vinner is obviously a pretty loose cannon at this point. His stories grew from Tuesday to Wednesday. Who knows what he’ll say today. And how long will it be before he reveals which BCS school offered $60,000 for Redmond’s services? How many coaches who recruited players from De’Vinner’s 7-on-7 teams are now worrying that their programs might be in for some tough times, too? (Jovon Robinson — another ex-Memphis athlete who was recently ruled ineligible at Auburn after it was learned his high school transcript was doctored — also played for De’Vinner.)
It’s way too early to start jumping to conclusions. We’ve been down this road before with Cam Newton. Ironically, State was involved in that mess, too. But what we should remember from that case and all the claims of bag men, and audio tapes that would someday come out — they still haven’t — and smoking guns is that nothing actually came of all the talk. There was more smoke than fire. That could be the case here, as well.
And you better believe MSU backers are hoping like hell the situation’s the same this time around.