As the Cam Newton saga nears the end of the tracks to possibly become the train wreck that people like Thayer Evans will watch with glee, I still have a lot of unanswered questions regarding how this even came about.
Specifically, I’ve wondered whether Kenny Rogers wasn’t some casual go between, but rather a guy who’s profited off of arrangements like this in the past. There are few very saints in this story, but while Cecil Newton will most certainly be painted the biggest villain (with his son not far behind) once it’s over, I think Rogers was every bit as nefarious.
Let me put this out there: if a demand for $180,000 was made, did Cecil Newton come up with that idea all on his own? Or was Kenny Rogers the architect? Keep in mind that if these allegations are proven, it won’t amount to a hill of beans regarding who came up with what idea. But it’s interesting to ponder, especially in light of some things Rogers had to say yesterday when he was interviewed by Ian Fitzsimmons of KESN-FM in Dallas. I can’t embed the entirety of the audio, but let me provide the highlights.
During the first portion of his interview, Rogers said the following: “I played at Mississippi State, I got friends there and God only knows what they’re thinking of me now.”
Well, Kenny, maybe you should of thought of that before the NFLPA started investigating you. Once that happened, your old MSU buddies probably thought that you’re a sleazeball who’ll do anything for a buck. But in regard to his standing in this Newton scandal, that fact apparently is neither here nor there to outlets like ESPN.
Rogers went on to say in the interview that he was the person who initiated contact with Cam Newton’s father Cecil and not the other way around. He said this occurred after Cam Newton left Florida under less than optimal circumstances: “And what I got in touch with him for is I help kids. I help kids get in school when a kid’s name go across the screen, uh, Brent Schaeffer from Tennessee, I helped him.”
I’m absolutely positive that Rogers performs these services for disgraced football players out of nothing more than the kindness that oozes from his gigantic heart. So anyway, all of you know how the story went, Cam Newton ends up at Blinn JC and once again becomes a hot recruit amongst FBS schools.
Fitzsimmons then asked Rogers how he became involved with Cam Newton’s recruitment to Mississippi State. “Well basically I found out Mississippi State was recruiting Cam through Mr. Newton, I didn’t know before then.” I’m wondering whether or not Cecil Newton maintained some sort of relationship with Rogers while his son was at Blinn and just picked up the phone one day and said, “Hey Kenny, your alma mater is recruiting Cam.”
To me, this is a very important point in all of this. If Rogers and Cecil Newton did in fact maintain some sort of active relationship while Cam Newton was at Blinn JC, then I can understand how Rogers ended up being some sort of intermediary in dealing with Mississippi State.
But if Rogers isn’t being truthful about the nature of that relationship, then in my mind that’s an issue that needs to be clarified. If contact wasn’t maintained, then why would Newton call Rogers specifically? Or did that even happen? If it was the other way around, I don’t find it a stretch to think that Rogers told Cecil Newton he could help extract money out of Mississippi State, which is the school he knows best.
Keep in mind that no other figure has come forward and said that Cecil Newton had an intermediary demanding money from Auburn, Oklahoma or Tennessee, which were others schools that were actively recruiting Cam Newton coming out of Blinn JC. Rogers himself has said he never had contact with Auburn, which is where Cam Newton ended up.
So you mean to tell me that Cecil Newton is demanding upwards of $180,000 for his son’s services and yet no one else can establish that a similar demand was made to other schools? Why was Mississippi State the only school that received this demand? That makes me believe that Kenny Rogers MAY have been the guy putting things in Cecil Newton’s head and not the other way around.
Also, I find it hard to believe that a Mississippi State football alum who appears to have ties to the program has to find out from Cecil Newton that his alma mater is recruiting Cam Newton. Especially in this age of bountiful internet recruiting info.
Now for the real meat of the Rogers interview, which was the following: “What I can say is on November 27 (2009), me, Mr. Newton and two coaches were sitting at the Hilton Garden Inn in Starkville and I really can’t remember how Mr. Newton stated this, but however he said it, one of the coaches was like, ‘No, no, I don’t wanna hear that.’”
Okay, the description of this meeting is very odd to me. If Cecil Newton is making the demand himself, why was Rogers even present? Think about it, if Cecil Newton’s son is being recruited by Mississippi State, wouldn’t he already have established relationships with the school’s coaches? Couldn’t he just have pulled them aside and made the demand himself?
That’s yet another thing that gives me pause about this scandal. If Rogers is a guy whose presence is commonplace in meetings between Mississippi State and recruits, that’s pretty damning stuff in my book. Was he present because he commonly orchestrates this type of meeting between Mississippi State coaches and recruits?
Rogers went on to give up another fascinating nugget concerning a conversation he allegedly had with Newton “He was like, ‘So, what do you think is gonna happen? You think it’s gonna go through?’ I said, ‘Well, I can’t answer that, I’ll just call Bill Bell.’”
Bell is owner of Bel-Mac Roofing Company in Santa Rosa Beach, FL and played for Mississippi State in the early 1980’s with Rogers. So why is he being called in a situation like this? There can only be one answer: he’s a point person for paying Mississippi State recruits and Rogers has dealt with him in similar situations in the past. What other conclusion can be drawn?
Here’s what Bell told ESPN.com yesterday:
Bell, when contacted Thursday night by ESPN.com, confirmed Cecil Newton did ask for money in exchange for Cam Newton signing with Mississippi State. Bell said he was contacted by the NCAA about the matter and spoke to an investigator earlier this week.
“That’s all I want to say about it at this point,” Bell said. (ESPN.com)
Jesus, ESPN, that was the only question you had for him? How about something along the lines of, “Why are you the guy being called in a situation like this? Have you ever paid anyone to come play football at Mississippi State? What’s the going rate for a new roof?”
I’m not trying to put an entirely new spin on this thing and imply that Cecil Newton was some poor, innocent dude who was suddenly enticed by the promise of money from Kenny Rogers. Hell, in the world of douchebag pastors, he could very well fall somewhere between Bishop Eddie Long and Jim Jones. But in a scandal where concrete evidence is hard to come by, what makes the scenario of Cecil being played by Kenny any less plausible than any other scenario?
Look at it in this brutally honest way: if you’re an elite football player, why the hell would you choose to play for Mississippi State over schools like Auburn or Oklahoma? How many times does Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen go head to head with the likes of Bob Stoops or Nick Saban and actually win those recruiting battles?
Mississippi State is a program that doesn’t have the very best facilities and has very little in the way of tradition. Compared to other SEC powerhouses, it’s a new Toyota Camry parked in a row of Ferraris.
Therefore, getting decent athletes to come play in Starkville takes some creative methods. It appears that one such method could possibly involve sending former players out in the world to buy them.