Posted on: February 17, 2011 10:45 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Perhaps not surprisingly, given the timing of the announcement yesterday, a suspect has been taken into custody in the case of the poisoned oaks at Auburn's famous Toomer's Corner.
Television station WTVM of Columbus (Ga.) reported this morning that Harvey Almorn Updyke, 62, of Dadeville (Ala.) -- otherwise now known to college football fans the country over as "Al from Dadeville," the handle chosen for himself when calling into the Paul Finebaum Show -- has been arrested and charged with criminal mischief in connection with the oak poisoning.
Law enforcement officials will be holding a press conference Thursday morning to discuss the details of Almorn's arrest. Per the Opelika Auburn-News , first degree criminal mischief in Alabama is a Class C felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison. Updyke's bond has been set at $50,000.
Updyke has also made a handful appearances on the Internet, commenting on this TMZ story on the Cam Newton scandal "auburn cheating again burn auburn burn woo eagle LOL" under the name "harvey updyke."
Photo via WTVM .
Posted on: February 16, 2011 5:17 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2011 5:55 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Georgia has the Hedges, Ole Miss the Grove, and at Auburn Tiger fans have the 130 year-old live oaks that sit at famous Toomer's Corner and are "rolled" after Tiger victories. But sadly, thanks to the work of one unknown vandal, Auburn may not have them much longer.
The University announced this afternoon that the trees have been intentionally poisoned with a lethal dose of herbicide, and though every effort is being made to save them, are unlikely to survive. A police investigation has been launched to identify the vandal.
In the biggest twist behind the story, the only-in-Alabama tip that alerted Auburn authorities to the poisoning may also become the lead towards apprehending the culprit:
The university learned that a caller to The Paul Finebaum Show, a nationally syndicated radio show based in Birmingham, on Jan. 27, claimed he had applied the herbicide. As a precaution, soil samples were taken the next day ... and sent to the lab at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss., to expedite results.
Though not officially confirmed by the Auburn release, the caller is widely believed to be an aggrieved Alabama fan. For weeks, fan chatter in the state has discussed the possibility of "retaliation" for Auburn fan pranks that included placing a Cam Newton jersey on the on-campus statue of Bear Bryant, later affixing an AU national championship sticker on the statue, and somehow growing this year's Iron Bowl score in the lawn outside Bryant-Denny Stadium (though news of the latter only surfaced after the call to Finebaum). Such is the atmosphere that the release includes a message from Auburn president Jay Gogue asking Tiger fans to refrain from any acts of retaliation of their own:
"It is understandable to feel outrage in reaction to a malicious act of vandalism," Gogue said. "However, we should live up to the example we set in becoming national champions and the beliefs expressed in our Auburn Creed. Individuals act alone, not on behalf of anyone or any place, and all universities are vulnerable to and condemn such reprehensible acts."
Though, again, Alabama isn't mentioned, the reference to other universities makes it clear that Gogue knows where the ire of Tiger fans will be directed.
Whether the motivation for the vandal was indeed revenge against Auburn or not, what's certain is that someone has committed an act of vandalism that will be virtually impossible to repair. With any luck -- for both the feelings of Auburn fans stung by the news and for the efforts to make sure this incident is the last on either side -- that person will be apprehended soon.UPDATE: Finebaum has re-released the audio from the call in question , in which "Al from Dadeville" expresses his anger at the Newton jersey prank and the almost certainly apocryphal story that Auburn fans rolled Toomer's when Bryant passed away. He then claims to have poisoned the trees, and signs off with "Roll Damn Tide." Unless this is an astonishing coincidence, the answer to the question at the top of this post is "yes."
Posted on: February 16, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2011 2:34 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Here's some more good news for Auburn today. Earlier on Wednesday we wrote about a report saying that the NCAA's investigation of Cam Newton is ongoing, but the good news for Auburn fans is that the NCAA hasn't found anything yet that could jeopardize its championship season. The problem for Auburn is that it seems that the recruitment of Cam Newton isn't the only investigation the NCAA is currently running involving Auburn.
According to a report on SportsByBrooks.com, the NCAA was in Louisiana to meet with Auburn recruit Greg Robinson and discuss his recruitment to the school.
Monday NCAA investigators descended on Thibodaux, Louisiana, to meet individually with Auburn football recruit Greg Robinson, Robinson’s mother Lydia, Robinson associate Sean Nelson and Robinson’s former Thibodaux High School Coach Dennis Lorio.
At issue in those meetings was Robinson’s recruitment by Auburn, which raised red flags after an investigative piece by Thayer Evans at FOXSports.com in early January.
In a private meeting held at Thibodaux high school on Monday, Lorio met with an NCAA investigator and a Thibodaux high school official.The original article by Thayer Evans can be found here.
According to the report, during the talk, Lorio was asked about the recruitment of Robinson and his Thibodaux teammate Trovon Reed. The NCAA also wanted to know about the role Sean Nelson played with the recruitment of the players to Auburn and his relationship with the Auburn coaching staff. While the NCAA was investigating the recruitment of these players, it seems its larger focus is on "street agents" like Nelson, and these investigations are "taking place around the country."
Whatever the case is, this certainly isn't another headache that Auburn wants to be dealing with right now.
Posted on: February 16, 2011 10:54 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
For Cam Newton, it's nothing but good news these days. His San Diego workout for the media drew a consensus of raves; he's projected to go to the Washington Redskins with the 10th overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft by many , if not to a different team much higher ; and he just signed what might be the richest athletic endorsement deal for a rookie in NFL history.
For the Auburn team he left behind, the news these days regarding Newton is ... mostly good. But the shadow of the NCAA investigation into his arrival on the Plains hasn't lifted just yet, according to a new column from Birmingham News writer Kevin Scarbinsky :
According to people with reason to know, the NCAA is still conducting an active investigation into Auburn's recruitment of Newton. There is an enforcement staff official assigned to the case, and that person is turning over every rock to make sure the NCAA doesn't get blindsided down the road.
This echoes similar statements made recently by SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who said "nobody had written him a letter" saying the case had been closed or that any new information had come to light.
Which means that for the time being, the Newton scandal remains in the same limbo in which it's been mired since Newton was ruled eligible to play in November: no evidence that Newton or his family accepted any improper benefits to come to Auburn, but still enough legwork left for the NCAA to do that anyone who says definitively that no such evidence exists is jumping the gun.
As Scarbinsky points out, the last Heisman winner to walk away with the kind of deal Newton just inked with Under Armour was Reggie Bush. If there's anything we can say with certainty about the Newton case, it's that the NCAA isn't going to let the investigative media make its compliance staff look hopelessly behind (as in the Bush case) if they can help it. If the good news for Auburn is that there's no "bomb" poised to drop, the bad news is that they likely shouldn't expect an "investigation closed" resolution to drop anytime soon.
Posted on: February 13, 2011 2:21 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
I suppose college football players have received some mixed messages about stealing laptops over the last couple of years. In one case you had Jeremiah Masoli, who was then kicked out of Oregon and missed out on a national title shot while toiling at Ole Miss last season. Then there was Cam Newton, who had to leave Florida, but wound up winning a title at Auburn.
So I can see why there would be some confusion. Still, at the end of the day, stealing is wrong and the only thing we know for sure about pilfering somebody else's laptop is that it's going to get you booted from your team. The latest to possibly suffer such a fate is Washington State cornerback Tracy Clark.
A freshman Washington State University football player has been arrested and suspended from the Cougar football team for allegedly stealing a laptop on campus.
19-year-old Tracy Clark, originally of Pittsburg, California was arrested by WSU police this week. Officers say Clark stole an $1,100 laptop from an open dorm room in Streit Hall on January 29.
They were able to identify Clark as the suspect by tracking his internet use on the computer.Clark redshirted in 2010, and depending on how this legal matter goes, he may not play a down of football for Washington State in 2011 either.
Posted on: February 13, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 2:08 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Mark Emmert is only four months into his tenure as the NCAA President, but he's already had quite a bit on his plate in that short amount of time. Between the dealings between agents and players at places like North Carolina, the Cam Newton investigation, and the suspension of several Ohio State players, there have been a lot of rulings by the NCAA during his tenure and a lot of confusion about those rulings.
So with that in mind, Emmert met with a group of AP sports editors at IUPUI on Saturday night. There Emmert stressed that transparency is critical to the future of the NCAA, and that he hopes the NCAA and media can work together in the future. He also shared plans for holding a mock hearing in which the media would be allowed to participate and ask questions.
Of course, no discussion between the media and Emmert about transparency could finish without Emmert being asked about the Cam Newton case.
"We try hard to get it right every time," Emmert said. "Getting it right is often in the eye of the beholder. The cases we saw this fall were highly controversial and highly debatable. I understand that, and some of them were even enormously frustrating to me.
"I said very loud and clear that I think it's absolutely a fundamentally wrong for a father to try to sell the services of his son or daughter to the highest bidder, to a university. We ought never to allow that to happen, but yet, having not anticipated that, we didn't have any rule or structure that said it was a violation of any of our rules. I found that grossly inappropriate that didn't have a structure in which we could say, 'No, you can't do that.'
"There was no evidence that money had changed hands and there was no evidence that Auburn University had anything to do with it. We would up making a decision that felt to many people morally objectionable, but that fit the facts and the circumstances.
"We find ourselves making those kinds of judgment calls often."
Newton, of course, was suspended for a day but never missed any games and Auburn went on to win the national championship with him at quarterback. Looking at it now, though, it's still hard to believe that the NCAA didn't have any rules in place for a parent selling their child to the highest bidder. Considering all the shady dealings that have taken place with player recruitment in the past, it's hard to imagine that nobody ever saw this type of thing coming.
Posted on: February 11, 2011 9:59 am
By Bryan Fischer
SAN DIEGO – Smile. Throw. Impress. Repeat.
That was the Cam Newton Show on Thursday as the Heisman Trophy winner took to the field to show off his talent -– and trademark grin –- on the football field for the first time since winning the BCS National Championship. The display was a lot like the old Cam Newton Show, the one seen slicing through SEC defenses with precision at Auburn.
But what made this workout a little different (other than being organized by a public relations firm) was the supporting cast. Newton’s infamous father, Cecil, was out of sight. Offensive mastermind Gus Malzahn was nowhere to be found. Instead, quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. and Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon were just off center stage as Newton wowed the media for 45 minutes at Cathedral Catholic High School.
"Ever since I’ve been here, there’s been a lot of inquires, a lot of requests, about what am I doing to work out on a day-to-day basis," Newton said. "Today was a day for everybody to just see and get a glimpse of what I do on a day-to-day basis."
Moon and Whitfield are responsible for the daily grind of preparing Newton to wow the scouts at the NFL Combine in two weeks. Moon was brought on by Newton’s family to serve as a mentor and he in turn brought aboard Whitfield to help work on fundamentals.
"He's throwing from an aspect that he's never thrown from before and that's under center," Whitfield said. "He's been playing shotgun since high school and he's acclimated and comfortable with throwing from a calm base. With a (dropback), we're going to get to it. We'll keep doing it and doing it until it becomes second nature."
The two work in tandem, the guru putting Newton through the paces and the Hall of Famer watching every workout -– on video if he’s unable to attend. Although Moon describes himself as a mentor helping aid in the mental transition to NFL quarterback, he’s not afraid to interject with advice on mechanics. After a throw sailed high, Moon quickly paused the workout to point out a mechanical flaw.
"He wasn’t transferring (his weight) and he was leaning backwards," Moon said. "He has a very strong arm but I don’t care how strong it is, if you don’t have the right base you’re not going to get good accuracy. As soon as he gets that weight transferred from the back going forward, he throws the ball as accurately as anybody I’ve been around."
Working mostly on intermediate to deep throws, Newton displayed excellent velocity and good anticipation on almost every throw, finishing 26-for-33 on the day. The accuracy and fluid three- and five-step dropbacks were light-years away from when Moon first saw Newton.
"I coached (Cam) in a clinic back when he was in high school so I have a recollection of him and his skill set," Moon said. "He wasn't as big as he was right now, maybe 6-4, 220 pounds at the time. But you could tell he had a lot of raw ability."
Whitfield, who recently tutored Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during his four-game suspension, has seen his current pupil’s skills come a long ways in just a few sessions. So much so, that he doesn’t mind comparing the two.
"Cam and Ben are very similar," Whitfield said. "They’re both Hummers and Cam would be like the sport version of the Hummer. They can off-road, they can carry a lot and handle a lot. You’d probably put a spoiler on Cam and that’s probably the only difference."
Newton didn’t run sprints to display his speed or practice escaping the pocket like he did so well while wearing a Tigers uniform. Instead, what he showed in the open workout was a quarterback who could make every throw.
"I would say at least top five," Moon said when asked where Newton should go in the draft. "Once he gets to the combine and they see his individual workouts, he’ll continue to move up the latter."
"I'm just trying to be the best athlete I can be," said Newton. "It's a big leap but at the same time you have to be mature enough to work on your talent when nobody's looking. This is your profession, this is your job. I have to come at it every single day trying to get better at what I want to do."
Smile. Throw. Impress. Repeat.
Thanks to a new supporting cast, Cam Newton is doing that better than ever.
Posted on: February 9, 2011 10:59 am
Edited on: February 9, 2011 11:00 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
What does it take to win a national championship? In order to keep preserve Cam Newton's eligibility, Auburn University was willing to shell out six figures.
The Birmingham News reported Wednesday that Auburn has spent approximately $170,000 in attorney fees during the ongoing Cam Newton NCAA investigation. Lightfoot, Franklin, White LLC, the school's Birmingham-based legal counsel has once again pulled in the big bucks defending a high profile NCAA investigation.
Michigan paid the same firm $600,000 during its recent infractions case, and Connecticut paid $338,000 over 12 months during the investigation of the Huskies basketball program.
As the report details, spending such a large amount of money for legal counsel is not unusual with such a high profile investigation. After all, Auburn was competing for a national championship - a reward that holds no price tag in the hearts of Tiger fans.
However, if you are measuring dollar amounts against each other, it should be noted that Auburn's need for legal assistance is likely far from complete. The NCAA has issued no ruling to completely close the Newton case at Auburn. Some would assume with Newton gone, the trouble would go away. But after a Heisman Trophy and National Championship, this story isn't fading away any time soon.