Auburn Deflecting, Should Be Defending

Maybe it isn't fair to lump Auburn University with a couple of team sites that cover their athletic programs. However, it seems that a minor smear campaign was released from somewhere inside the program in order to deflect attention from an ongoing NCAA investigation into the recruitment of start quarterback Cameron Newton.

According to giant media entities The New York Times and ESPN, Newton's recruitment is being investigated and has been for months. No allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Auburn, its staff, or boosters, have been brought to the forefront, it is simply in the investigation stage.

Both media entities quoted former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond, who said that his former teammate Kenny Rogers approached him with a price tag in order to land the services of Cameron Newton to finish his college career at the school. The amount of money being bandied about has ranged from $180,000 to $200,000 between the two media entities.

"I reported the conversation to the Mississippi State Athletic Department," Bond said in a statement given to The New York Times. "I was told by the Athletic Department that Mississippi State would not respond to the overture."

Again, there have been no accusations of any kind made at Auburn by the media, but Newton did sign with Auburn after Mississippi State evidently wouldn't respond to the money issue.

As it turns out, this issue has been on the agenda of the NCAA and Auburn since before the start of the season. Yet, for whatever reason, the media ran with the story this week.

Various accounts from Bond on live radio around the Southeast have him admitting that ESPN approached him this week and said they were going to run with a story on the issue with or without his word on the subject. They were subsequently able to get his statements.

There is nothing unusual or strange about this delay. Things of this magnitude almost always leak, and this one took months to finally make the mainstream media. It was going to get out and there happens to be more media than ever focused on the No. 1 ranked Auburn team and Heisman Trophy front-runner Cam Newton.

Auburn has vehemently denied any wrongdoing on the part of Newton. Good for them, and I would expect as much if that is what they truly believe.

There also seems to be an attempt to deflect the attention of the subject onto the SEC's winningest coach over the last few years by a couple of the Auburn team sites that are part of other recruiting/team networks.

I have done my own digging and have it from the highest of sources that Urban Meyer had nothing to do with reporting the accusations listed above. Yet, that is what is being alleged by these websites, citing unnamed ‘sources' with their accusations. The articles both insisted that Meyer was upset over the success of Newton and lack of success of his own offense during the 2010 season.

These over-the-top accusations, certainly intended to drive traffic and subscriptions to their sites, can and will never be proven, because it never happened.

A little common sense shows it doesn't make any sense. How soon they forget that in a recent article in Sports Illustrated, Cam Newton talked about his love for Florida, the college he first attended, which included the head coach. Newton wouldn't talk of Florida this way if there was ill will between him and Meyer.

What does Meyer have to gain from this? Auburn's success casts no dim light on Florida's rebuilding year. The two teams didn't even play each other in 2010. Besides, the NCAA was investigating Auburn and Newton before the season started. It plainly doesn't make any sense.

The funny thing is if it were true, Meyer should be applauded. A school can deflect the negative attention all they want, but if there is high stakes pay for play going on, it needs to be made public. If that means one of college football's all-time great coaches has to bring that to the public, then so be it.

My sources say that Urban Meyer had zero to do with this. However, I wouldn't have a problem if he did.
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