SEC Football: Gotta Love It

UPDATE: As of Wednesday, Auburn was insisting that Cameron Newton was eligible and would start against Georgia Saturday.  Now, Auburn has changed its position to “No Comment”.

Those of you out there who love college football, I promise you that you will LOVE the way we do it here in the SEC.  Nothing else comes close, anywhere.

Where else does Alabama’s recruitment of a lineman from Memphis result in the Tennessee head coach being subpoenaed at the league’s Media Days?

Where else does the Arkansas coach have a woman who works for a radio station fired for wearing a Florida hat?  (And Arkansas fans actually think this is a good thing.  Come on, people.)

Where else does a wild night out in Pensacola, Florida (didn’t know that was even possible) end with the Alabama head coach being fired before he ever coaches a down for them?

And where else does the Cameron Newton story become the mutated monstrosity that it has now become?

Even by SEC standards, this feel-good-gone-bad story is bizarre.  And it stands to get even more bizarre before all is said and done, if it is ever all said and done.

For those of you who have not been tracking with this story, let me fill you in.

Cameron Newton is the quarterback at Auburn this year.  He and Auburn are having a splendid season so far; Auburn is undefeated and Newton has emerged as a strong Heisman candidate.  Until recently (more on this later), he was the odds-on favorite to win it.

He grew up in the south Atlanta suburb of College Park, and played at Westlake High School.  He went to Florida, where he was a backup.  Rather than languish behind Tim Tebow and John Brantley on the depth chart, he left at the end of the 2008 season.

He then went to a junior college in Texas, where he played under Brad Franchione, whose father, Dennis Franchione, coached at Alabama.  His abrupt departure led to the hiring of Mike Price, the aforementioned Alabama coach who was fired after a wild night out in Pensacola, Florida.  (We here in the SEC are all about connections.  Don’t you just love it?)

From there, Newton transferred to Auburn.

Last week, allegations surfaced that someone claiming to represent Newton and his family made contact with John Bond, a Mississippi State quarterback from back in the day whose passing accuracy earned him the nickname “One-Hop Bond” (Dut-dut CRASH!!!!!).  This person, who turned out to be a teammate of Bond’s named Kenny Rogers (not to be confused with the guy who sang “The Gambler”), claimed that if Mississippi State wanted Newton to play for them, they would have to pony up $180,000.

As soon as this came out, Newton’s Heisman chances took a nosedive.  Heisman voters are spooked by the spectacle of Reggie Bush, who won it in 2005 and wound up having to give it back this year.  As a result, they are now very reluctant to award the Heisman to someone who may have to give it back in a couple of years.

But wait.  It gets better.

More background on Newton:  While he was at Florida, he was arrested for purchasing a stolen laptop.  The charges against him were dropped after he went through a pretrial diversion program.

Well, a few days ago Foxsports.com reported that Newton cheated several times while at Florida.  He was supposed to have a hearing before Florida’s student judiciary in the spring of 2009, which could have resulted in him being suspended or expelled.  His transfer at the end of the 2008 season was supposedly an attempt to dodge this.

Whether or not these allegations are true, someone at Florida is going to be in a world of trouble for violating federal laws regarding the confidentiality of student records.  Of course, Urban Meyer has steadfastly denied that he or anyone else on his staff had anything to do with leaking this information.

But wait.  It gets BETTER!!!!!

Ever since the Kenny Rogers allegations surfaced last week, the overarching question lurking in the background has been:  If Newton turned down $180,000 to play at Mississippi State, then did he really enroll at Auburn for free?  The latest allegations speak to this.

On Wednesday, a report surfaced that there were conversations in which both Newton and his father talked of a pay-for-play plan at Auburn.  On Thursday, the aforementioned Kenny Rogers went on ESPN 103.3 in Dallas and said that Newton’s father told him it would take anywhere from $100,000 to $180,000 for Mississippi State to land Newton.

And here’s the best part:  Auburn plays Georgia tomorrow.  If Auburn wins, they clinch a spot in the SEC championship game and a possible shot at a national championship.  So far, Auburn has steadfastly maintained that Newton is eligible to play.  But the latest revelations could change all that.

A lot could change between now and kickoff tomorrow.  So stay tuned.

Could you imagine anything like this happening in the Big 10?  The Big 12?  The Pac 10?  The Sun Belt?

Didn’t think so.

SEC football.  Gotta love it.

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