Wanted to give you a quick catch-up on the latest on the Cameron Newton situation. Here goes:
* An angry Gene Chizik spoke out today in defense of his star quarterback. “So I want to make this very clear, because I’m wasting my time addressing allegations that completely, to be frank, blow my mind that they’re even out there because there are federal privacy laws that dictate that these things don’t even get out in public.
“But I’m standing up here on a very important week trying to defend something that is quite frankly garbage. Is there a wizard behind the curtain, I don’t know. Is there one? Is there two? Are there 10? I don’t know, and I don’t care. But what I do care about is coming to the defense of not only a great football player, but a great human being who comes from a great family.”
He may say he doesn’t care, but you can be sure that Chizik is wondering — like a lot of folks around the conference — if Mississippi State or Florida sources are behind the stories that keep popping up.
“I’m defending a young man who deserves it,” Chizik said. “Whatever people want to drum up and dream up, that’s not changing. Cameron is going to be focused on Georgia this week.”
* Newton himself spoke with the press today, but he handled the session with cool class and showed no anger. “Am I hurt? No. Am I curious? A little bit. But it really doesn’t bother me that much. I’m a blessed individual.”
Newton would not discuss the academic charges brought against him this morning in report by Thayer Evans of FoxSports.com.
“I’m not going to entertain something that happened three months, six months, but two years ago. I’m not going to talk about it, beating a dead horse.”
He also said that he wants to believe Urban Meyer when he says he’s not behind the information that’s been leaked. “The coach that I knew, the one I once committed to, a man of integrity, I would hope he wouldn’t say anything like that.”
* Al.com has posted video of both Newton’s and Chizik’s pressers.
* Returning to the FoxSports.com report, the Rivals.com site AuburnSports.com is reporting that “two independent sources with detailed knowledge of the UF academic discipline system during the period in question have disputed the Evans story.”
According to AuburnSports.com’s sources, “no allegations of academic impropriety regarding Cam Newton were sent to the Florida Student Conduct Committee at any time either during or after Newton’s time at UF.”
Here’s the problem with this: Any source talking about Newton’s academic history at Florida is dancing on a razor’s edge. That goes for FoxSports.com’s source and the two sources of AuburnSports.com.
Federal privacy laws prevent students’ academic records from being leaked to the press. If this includes — and it’s likely that it would — possible claims of academic fraud, then someone could be facing some very serious legal charges.
The fact that Auburn has reacted so strongly to this latest smear tactic should cause FoxSports’ Evans and his source to pucker up a bit. If someone’s lawyer wants to push this there are legal avenues which can be followed.
One thing is certain, if any part of Newton’s academic history was released to Evans, it had to come from either a source at Florida or someone who was once at Florida during Newton’s time on that campus.
* If it’s found that either Meyer or Dan Mullen had anything to do with Newton’s alleged cheating scandal being brought to light, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that that coach could lose his job. Yes, skirting federal laws is that big a deal.
The coaches had best be hoping that rogue fans or someone on UF’s Student Conduct Committee acted on their own.
* I say “alleged” cheating scandal because AuburnSports.com does have two unnamed sources to refute FoxSports.com’s one unnamed source.
However, it’s likely that if Evans’ story was false, Newton would have screamed from his podium that the story was untrue. He did not. He simply chose not to talk about it.
* One of the schools which keeps popping up in messageboard conversations regarding this scandal is Oklahoma. But Sooners coach Bob Stoops said today that he saw nothing irregular in Newton’s recruitment.
He said that he “didn’t notice anything and none of our coaches did as we were recruiting him.” Of course not. What’s Stoops going to say one way or the other?
* Finally, Tony Barnhart writes for CBSSports.com today that when it comes to the Heisman race, Newton should not be punished for Reggie Bush’s sins. Further, Barnhart writes:
“… last week I talked to people at Auburn with intimate knowledge of the situation. They told me they were ‘extremely confident’ that Auburn, Newton and his father had not violated any rules. These sources had no qualms about the Tigers continuing to play him.”
* Stay tuned. There will be much more to come. You can bank on that.
And just to reiterate, I wouldn’t want to have been involved in leaking Newton’s academic history to FoxSports.com. That source should be sweating bullets about now.