Thu May 12 07:56am EDT
Making the morning rounds.
• Nothing to see here, part one. The NCAA's probe into Cam Newton's recruitment out of junior college in 2009 and early 2010 remains "an open issue," according to Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs, but not one that he's about to lose any sleep over at this point — or that's going to stop the university from erecting a statue of Newton alongside fellow Heisman winners Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson later this year. "Out of respect for the NCAA process, technically it's still an open issue," Jacobs told the Associated Press. "But when Dr. [Mark] Emmert, the president of the NCAA, comes out in February that he's found no wrongdoing on Auburn's part, I'm not sure how you can be any more confident than that. And no circumstances have changed since then."
An NCAA spokesman clarified that Emmert's statement was only in reference to Newton being cleared to play in the SEC and BCS championship games based on what investigators had learned about his father's alleged pay-for-play scheme as of last winter, and shouldn't be taken to mean that he's out of the woods entirely. But if no one is offering up any new information in a case no one could shut up about last November, you do the math.
Thank goodness coach Gene Chizik's tell-all book will confront the Newton issue head-on with a commitment to complete honesty and transparency instead of regurgitating generic platitudes about faith and leadership. I can't wait to read it. [Associated Press]
• Nothing to see here, part two. The anti-BCS watchdogs at Playoff PAC spent their Wednesday trying to put the BCS' $1 million fine against the Fiesta Bowl into perspective, pointing out that $1 million is more or less chump change to an organization that was paying its soon-to-be disgraced CEO about that much in salary and fringe benefits and claimed $23.1 million in total assets last year even before it hosted the BCS Championship Game in January. But the most infuriating aspect of the fine — which will be donated to charities working with Arizona youth — is that the money should have already been going to Arizona youth: As a nonprofit organization, the bowl game's Articles of Incorporation require that a) "The proceeds, if any, from [Fiesta Bowl] events and activities shall be used for educational and charitable purposes," and b) "All funds not paid to the participating colleges shall be used by the [Fiesta Bowl] for educational and charitable purposes."
By Playoff PAC's math, the Fiesta Bowl had a $15.3 million surplus in 2010, meaning a $1 million "fine" to charity — which the bowl can easily cover from the exorbitant ticket guarantees it hangs on participating schools alone — is still only a fraction of what its own bylaws require regardless of any scandal. [Playoff PAC]
• Head cases. About 30 percent of Virginia Tech players are scheduled to receive new helmets this fall after an internal study designed to objectively rate various brands of helmets determined one of the models the Hokies use provides only "marginal" protection. The study, which rated helmet brands from 1 star to 5 stars, could have a trickle-down on equipment purchasing throughout the sport. [Roanoke Times, New York Times]
• A home for Russell. Former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson — effectively a free agent after being released from his scholarship last month with a year of eligibility remaining and a degree that will allow him to play this fall as a grad student — has reportedly expressed interest in transferring to Wisconsin. Though he may not be a stereotypical fit for the Badgers' cro-mag offense after three years in the Wolfpack's more spread-friendly approach, Wilson is a legitimate Division I starter, which Bret Bielema can't necessarily say about any of his other options at the moment. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
In other quarterback transfer news, outgoing Missouri QB Tyler Gabbert's reported interest in Clemson has not been reciprocated by the Tigers, who have a clear starter for the next three years (they hope) in sophomore Tajh Boyd and just signed three quarterbacks in the 2011 recruiting class. (A Clemson source also frankly notes that, unlike his recently drafted older brother, Gabbert is "not an elite prospect.") Note that Clemson was not one of the four schools — Arizona, Iowa, Louisville and Wake Forest — Gabbert was rumored to be looking into earlier this week. [Charleston Post and Courier]
Quickly… Kirk Ferentz offers a full scholarship to a 15-year-old high school freshman who's never played on the varsity team. … Former Florida State linebacker Maurice Harris runs into more serious legal trouble. … Stephen Garcia's family honors his graduation. … Another man with absolute faith in Cam Newton: His former offensive coordinator. … Why big-time college football and basketball are like Frankenstein's monster. … An argument against Trojans in black. … Even Georgia Southern is hopping on the statue bandwagon. … And Aubie makes off with Auburn's crystal football. (Because he's a cat burglar, see? Because — ah, never mind. Philistines.)
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.