As you know, we are nothing if not scrupulously fair here at TMFW. So let me begin this week's post by congratulating the Auburn Tigers on their thrilling, if not improbable, 28-27 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Bammers spotted the Woe Eagles 24 points only to have the visiting Tigers completely dominate the second half.
Not to take anything away from Auburn, but it was a complete gag job on the part of Alabama. A collapse of historic proportions in the history of possibly the most intense rivalry in college football. Insert your own favorite way to describe calamity here. Nick Saban will probably execute some players tomorrow at sunrise after he reviews the game film.
Still, one must also give credit where credit is due. Auburn's quarterback, the wondrous Cam Newton, made the big runs and throws with the game on the line. He would be a lead pipe cinch for the Heisman Trophy but for a little problem that surfaced at the beginning of the season.
First, some background. If there is any state that has long since lost any sense of proportion about Division I football it is Alabama. It is no exaggeration to say that the much of what makes sense there politically and business wise revolves around the rivalry between the two schools. For example, my friend Don used to practice law in Birmingham. He said that part of their trial strategy routinely involved making sure an Auburn lawyer didn't get in front of an Alabama judge. He found this ridiculous, only because it is, and moved out to California after a few years.
Secondly, Auburn University-at least the athletic department- has been pretty much run by a Trustee named Bobby Lowder. Lowder-a wealthy former banker (more on that later) has his fingerprints on every personnel move involving the football program over the last 15 years including the infamous secret trip to Louisville along with the de facto Athletic Director to court Bobby Petrino. This was while Tommy Tuberville was still under contract.
Now to Cam Newton. Cam left Florida after allegedly stealing a laptop. Cam says he left because he wasn't going to get any PT with Tim Tebow at quarterback. Cam winds up at an obscure Junior College in Texas where he wins the JC National Championship. He is a hot commodity. Here's where the fun starts.
2 years ago Auburn fires Tommy Tuberville for no apparent reason except that Alabama's hiring of Saban scares the bejesus out of the Woe Eagle faithful. They hire Gene Chizik from Iowa State. Meanwhile back in Mississippi, Mississippi State gets rid of Sylvester Croom. Former Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen takes the job at Bulldog High. Both Auburn and MSU recruit Cam.
About last October, former Bulldog quarterback John Bond issues a statement through a lawyer that a year or so ago he was approached by a guy named Kenny Rodgers who holds himself out as representing Cecil Newton the father of Cam Newton. Bond alleges Rodgers told him that Cecil would deliver Cam to Mississippi State for $180,000. All hell busts out on cue.
Rodgers just happens to work for an agent. Cecil Newton says he knows Rodgers but that Rodgers wasn't authorized to speak to MSU on his behalf. MSU says it declined to pay but continued to recruit Cam "normally." Cam says he don't know nothin' about nothin'. Auburn says that its recruitment of Cam Newton was on the up and up and that Cam is 100% eligible.
And just as if this situation couldn't get any more entangled, an Internet post entitled "As The Plains Burns" gets posted on an LSU discussion Board outlining the author's massive conspiracy theory involving Auburn football, Federal investigations into the failure of Bobby Lowder's bank (hence the reference to him being a former banker), and Alabama politicians. You can read it here at the jump: http://www.tigerdroppings.com/rant/messagetopic.asp?p=22778676
At this point in the show, I have some questions and observations.
1) Why did Mississippi State continue to recruit Cam Newton "normally" when it knew that at least somebody connected with the kid had tried to shale them down? Is it because this is business as usual in the SEC?
2) If indeed, Rodgers tried to "shop" Cam Newton to MSU, why didn't they report it to the SEC Commissioner's office?
3) Cecil Newton is a preacher. He pastors a church outside of Georgia. The church was cited for numerous code violations. It was threatened with getting razed. Supposedly, the church was recently brought up to code and Cecil has a new truck. This has been reported not only on the Internet but in the straight press as well. Where did the money come from?
4) We know that the Feds are sniffing around and have wiretaps on at least on Auburn booster who has been indicted over trying to bribe legislators in return for favorable votes for his casino interests. They are investigating the failure of Lowder's bank which is what they always do when a bank fails. Bond has told the media the FBI told him they were looking into the question of "selling players." They got wiretaps. They have subpoena power. Some guys over in the "Loveliest Village On The Plains" have got to be sweating buckshot.
5) While I am not one for conspiracy theories, I will say that if 1/4 of what "As the Plains Burns" is true, Auburn has a serious, serious problem with the NCAA. I don't believe that it will get the Death Penalty or get kicked out of the SEC as the post predicts. But they could get on probation for a millennium and have to forfeit any wins that Cam Newton participated. Which would be all of them this season.
6) And I fully believe that there are many Auburn crazy types that do not give a shit just so long as they beat Alabama and Cam gets the Heisman.
7) I also believe that Alabama is not exactly pure of heart in this regard. I'm sure that boosters there have figured out ways to slip money to players. In any event, I love the story in the Internet post about Auburn people paying Alabama's Gene Jelks to stay at Bammer and get them in trouble with the NCAA. Don't know if it's even remotely true. But I like it.
And this may be why Cam Newton may not get the Heisman. Overrated and useless as it is, there are some that take its award seriously. And rumor has it that some of the voters do not relish the thought of a repeat of the Reggie Bush situation where he was forced to return the trophy after it was revealed that his family had received "loans" from an agent while Bush was at Southern Cal. Which is perilously close to the situation here depending on what the Feds or the NCAA kicks up on Cecil Newton or some wild boy Auburn boosters.
This is enough scandal and intrigue for one weekend. I'm now going to turn to the relatively simple story of the heightened tension between North and South Korea for some diversion.