Was Auburn booster involved in the Cam Newton pay-for-play scandal?

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 06: Quarterback Cam Newton  of the Auburn Tigers stretches before play against the Chattanooga Mocs November 6, 2010 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Milton McGregor may become a name that grows synonymous with the Cam Newton pay-for-play scandal involving Auburn and Mississippi State.

The FBI is looking into whether or not McGregor (an Auburn booster) was involved in the recruitment process for Newton last year. Apparently the FBI arrested McGregor last month in a bribery sting over an attempt to buy off politicians in order to pay off gambling debts. Just two years ago, he reportedly gave Auburn one million and is considered to be a major booster for the school.

Those that believe the university didn’t have anything to do with a pay-for-play deal with Newton and that a rouge booster was involved now have a catalyst in McGregor. This doesn’t mean Auburn would be let off the hook, but in the eyes of the NCAA it’s better if a booster acted alone in this situation.

In a related report, ESPN.com says that a Mississippi State booster named Bill Bell told the NCAA that he received a text message from Kenny Rogers outlining a payment plan for Newton to sign with MSU. According to the report, there was a three-way phone conversation between Bell, Rogers and Cam’s father Cecil about how the payments would work ($80,000 the day after Cam signed, $50,000 30 days later and then another $50,000 60 days later).

“When he asked for it, it was like, ‘Bam! He (Rogers) told me this kid’s dad is going to want money and the next day he sent me a text message. He didn’t say anything other than, ‘This is what I want and I want it in three installments.’ ”

“(Cecil Newton) didn’t come out and say, ‘I want $180,000,’ He inferred it and talked about it, but not directly. Kenny would talk about it in front of him, and [Cecil Newton] never corrected him or said, ‘No, that’s not what we’re doing.’ ”

“He said it was going to take more than just a relationship with Dan Mullen and that Cam’s relationship with Mullen wasn’t what Mullen thought it was. That’s when he said, ‘Dan Mullen is going to have to put a smile on my face if he thinks he’s going to get my son.’ “

I’m no Columbo, but if you read between the lines it appears as though Bell told Rogers and Newton to buzz off but McGregor obliged to pay the freight. And thus, that’s why Cam is currently running around on Saturdays in an Auburn Tigers uniform.

But that’s just speculation on my part and I encourage everyone not to jump to conclusions before all the facts come out. There is new information on this scandal everyday and I’m sure mores to come.

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Florida overcomes Starkville, beats Miss State

Nobody should be surprised at the outcome in Starkville on Saturday night. No. 1 Florida (which has struggled in Starkville since its last win there in 1985) got a great effort from its defense, but the Gators struggled at times offensively and Mississippi State gave them a fight before finally falling 29-19.

But if Florida was looking to silence its critics, it certainly didn’t do even tonight to accomplish that. Outside of gaining 88 yards on 22 carries and one rushing touchdown, Tim Tebow wasn’t very good. In fact, one could argue that the only reason this game was close was because Tebow kept the Bulldogs in it by throwing two interceptions that Miss State returned for touchdowns. (He also took a truck load of sacks by holding onto the ball too long.)

Even though the Gators only held on to a 13-10 lead at halftime, this game was never really in doubt. The Bulldogs were horrid offensively and couldn’t sustain drives. Again, the only reason they were even in the game is because their defense gave an outstanding effort and managed to produce two touchdowns.

That said, did Florida do enough to remain No. 1 in the BCS standings? Before you say no, remember that Alabama wasn’t that impressive either. The Tide needed a blocked field goal to hold off Tennessee at home, as they too struggled offensively. No. 3 Texas might have an argument after routing Missouri 41-7 on the road, but it’s highly unlikely that the conservative BCS voters would make a move like that and rank the Longhorns No. 1.

Chances are that Florida will find itself atop the BCS standings for a second consecutive week. But for the second consecutive week, the Gators weren’t all that impressive either.

Week 12 College Football Primer

Top 25 vs. Top 25
Tim TebowNo. 25 South Carolina at. No. 4 Florida, 3:30 PM ET CBS
After they were shocked by Ole’ Miss and turned in a lackluster performance in a win over Arkansas, the Gators trounced LSU, Kentucky, Georgia and Vanderbilt in convincing fashion. Nothing against the three teams ranked higher, but Florida might be the best team in college football right now. Tim Tebow has resurrected his Heisman candidacy after rushing for five touchdowns and accounting for 424 total yards in the Gators’ 51-31 win over the Gamecocks last year. But Steve Spurrier’s squad has been one of the hottest teams in the nation over the past couple of weeks. The rotation of Stephen Garcia and Chris Smelley at quarterback has lifted South Carolina and the defense has played inspired. This is a better matchup than most think, although it’s highly possibly that Florida could roll with how well they’ve played over the past month. Expect the Gators to use this as another statement game leading up to their huge battle with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game December 6.

Upset Watch:
Maryland TerpsNo. 16 North Carolina at Maryland, 3:30 PM ET ABC
The Terps have clearly been a different team at home than on the road where they’re 4-0 and averaging 25.5 points per game as opposed to 1-3 and 11.75 PPG on the road. Maryland has also won five straight against ranked opponents the past two years and still control their own destiny in the ACC Atlantic. Three wins in their final three games would send the Terps to the ACC title game, which is amazing considering this was the same team that got drubbed 31-0 by Virginia. If Maryland is going to pull off the upset they’ll need to get Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett going in the running game because putting the ball in the air against the Tar Heels is a risky proposition. UNC has one of the best ball hawking defenses in the nation and has forced opponents into mistakes all season. If the Terps play things close to the vest offensively and rely on their defense to win the game, an upset could be in the making.

Other notable games:
Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama, 7:45 PM ET
It’s highly unlikely the Tide lose focus against a 3-6 Mississippi State team, but the Bulldogs did pull off one of the better upsets of the year when they crushed previously No. 13 Vanderbilt 34-3.

No. 3 Texas at Kansas, 12:30 PM ET
The Longhorns try to keep in the national title hunt while the Jayhawks look to end the season as quickly as possible.

No. 10 Georgia at Auburn, 12:30 PM ET
This is one of the more underrated rivalries in the SEC.

College Football Week 6 Primer

Time to check out the big games, top matchups and potential upsets as college football heads into Week 6.

Top 25 vs. Top 25:
Terrelle PryorNo. 14 Ohio State at No. 18 Wisconsin, 8:00 PM ET
This was supposed to be a matchup of the best two teams in the Big Ten, but after the Badgers were embarrassed last week in Ann Arbor, this game has lost a lot of it’s luster. Despite Michigan turning the ball over five times and spotting them a 19-0 lead, Wisconsin fell apart in the second half as the Wolverines pulled off a 27-25 upset. For the Buckeyes, they seem to be playing with a chip on their shoulder after losing to USC a few weeks back, especially freshman QB Terrelle Pryor, who is out to use this game as proof that he can play on a big stage. It’ll be interesting to see how the dazzlingly Pryor does in his first road start of his young collegiate career; OSU has not won back-to-back games vs. Wisconsin since 1995/1996. Oddsmakers have established the Buckeyes as 1.5-point favorites.

No. 13 Auburn at No. 19 Vanderbilt, 6:00 PM ET
Vandy is off to a surprising 4-0 start this season, but their record is a bit deceiving. The Commodores rank last in the SEC in total offense and defense, and have been out gained in 3 of their 4 games this season. But they sit undefeated largely due to their plus-nine turnover margin, which leads the nation. They’ll get their first real test of the season against Auburn, who crushed the Commodores 45-7 in their last trip to Vanderbilt Stadium in 2003. The Tigers also handed Vandy a 35-7 beat-down last year and are trying to build some momentum off of last week’s 14-12 win against Tennessee. Still, this is the first time Vanderbilt has been ranked since 1984, so the home crowd will noty doubt be psyched. And it’s not like Tommy Tummerville’s team has been that dominant this season. (See the Tigers’ 3-2 victory over Mississippi State as proof.) Vandy is a 4.5-point home underdog.

No. 23 Oregon at No. 9 USC, 8:00 PM ET
The Trojans try to bounce back from their humiliating 27-21 loss to Oregon State last week – a defeat that dropped them from the top spot in the rankings. When these two teams met last year in Eugene, the Ducks used an electrifying home crowd to knock off the Trojans 24-17 in USC QB Mark Sanchez’s first start. It would be wise for Oregon to borrow the blueprint left by the Beavers and attack the middle of the Trojans’ beat up defense on the ground. Head coach Pete Carroll is dying to use this game to show USC can still compete for a national title this season and will try to flatten the Ducks, but Oregon’s defense is good enough to keep them in the game. The Trojans are currently 17-point favorites.

Chase DanielUpset Watch: No. 4 Missouri at Nebraska, 9:00 PM ET
It’s hard to fathom that the Tigers would stumble this week in Lincoln coming off a bye week and with so much on the line. But Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Daniel has yet to see a decent defense outside of Illinois in the opener. And even though MIZZOU hammered the Huskers last year, Nebraska’s defense is a lot better than the unit that surrendered 41 points to Daniel and the Tigers last year. Missouri has better talent and the better overall team, but one thing to keep in mind is that the home team in this series has won the last six in a row. MIZZOU is an 11-point favorite.

Other notable games:
No. 1 Oklahoma at Baylor, 12:30 PM ET Saturday
The Sooners play their first game since being anointed the top ranked team in the nation. They get a decent opponent in the Bears, who have been a dramatically improved team with scrappy freshman Robert Griffin under center this year.

Kentucky at No. 2 Alabama, 3:30 PM ET Saturday
After crushing the Bulldogs in Athens last week, Nick Saban’s Tide can’t fall victims to the upset themselves this week against the unranked Wildcats.

No. 5 Texas at Colorado, 7:00 PM ET Saturday
Longhorns’ QB Colt McCoy will look to continue his bid to become this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, but he’ll face a decent Colorado team who is 3-0 at home this year.

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