By MATTHEW STEVENS
Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin admitted that an extra benefit offer request took place during the recruitment of quarterback Cameron Newton.
Stricklin released the statement late Friday evening following Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive’s first public comments on the Cam Newton situation when he told The Birmingham News he was disappointed in Mississippi State University for not following procedures in reporting accusations to the league office.
"Without getting into any minute detail, for people to assume there was no follow-up for information (by the SEC office) would be wrong," Slive said. "There was timely follow-up from our office between January and July. As Mississippi State indicated, these requests were not fulfilled. We followed up in a timely way. Given the need for people to have a month or more to do that, we asked again. In six years, we've never had a problem with that."
This saga was started by John Bond, a former quarterback at MSU from 1980 to 1983 who now lives in Madison, releasing a statement through his attorney that the player who has led Auburn to an undefeated start to the 2010 season and is leading front runner for the Heisman Trophy would require a financial payment if Mississippi State wanted to sign him last winter.
“During the 2009 football season, I was contacted by a former football teammate, who represented to me that he was speaking for the Newton camp,” Bond said in the statement. “He told me that Cam Newton wanted to play at Mississippi State, but that a specified payment would have to be made. I reported the conversation to the Mississippi State Athletic Department. I was told by the Athletic Department that Mississippi State would not respond to the overture that was made to me, and that Mississippi State would continue to recruit Cam Newton as it does any other football recruit.”
Bond is scheduled to meet with FBI officials Tuesday over the play-for-pay matter and is expected to hand over cellular telephone records between him and former Mississippi State teammate Kenny Rogers.
Stricklin countered by essentially admitting to the sequence of events that Rogers stated in a radio interview with ESPN 103.3 in Dallas this week. Rogers said during the interview that Cecil Newton, Cam’s father, told him it would take “anywhere between $100,000 and $180,000” for his son to sign with Mississippi State.
“During the recruitment of a football prospective student-athlete, Mississippi State was approached with an offer to provide an extra benefit,” the MSU statement reads. “This offer was refused. MSU alerted the Southeastern Conference about the offer. MSU did not have any specific incriminating information about any other school, and thus could not provide any.
Later Friday evening after Stricklin's statement had been released, WSB-TV in Atlanta released a report saying Cecil Newton Sr., has admitted to seeking money from a former Mississippi State player in exchange for his son signing with the school.
Stricklin’s statement essentially disagreed with the Southeastern Conference commissioner’s words that accused Mississippi State of not obeying the conference policy on how to deal with these compliance issues.
“As Commissioner Slive mentioned today, the SEC is not an investigative body,” Stricklin stated. “MSU has cooperated fully and completely with the NCAA from the time it began asking for our assistance, and looks forward to providing any and all help in this ongoing investigation.”
Hanrahan comes back to Alabama
For Mississippi State fullback Patrick Hanrahan, Saturday night represented a full circle to his college football career.
“It’s an unbelievably good feeling to back my senior year to Bryant-Denny Stadium where it all started,” the Bulldogs 24-year old fullback said Wednesday. “I’ve had a good feeling about it all week long.”
Hanrahan signed to play with head coach Mike Shula for the school is father Gary played for - Alabama. He spent two seasons with the Crimson Tide program (one as a redshirt) and then Shula was fired.
Soon after the Crimson Tide brought in Nick Saban and his one-back offense that had no need for a fullback like Hanrahan, he then left Alabama and Mississippi State was waiting with under arms under the leadership of head coach Sylvester Croom.
“After coach Saban got there, (Alabama) ran a lot of two tight end, one back sets and I thought playing for coach Croom – a guy who recruited me out of high school – would be a good fit,” Hanrahan said.
Croom was then fired and Dan Mullen came in with the spread and left Hanrahan thinking he'd made a poor decision again.
“I started thinking that he’ll bring in the spread and they’ll be no room for me here either,” Hanrahan said.
However, Mullen has found use for the 235-pound back and now the Springville, Ala., native will have at least 20 fans in the stands to watch him play on the field he thought he'd be on when he signed out of high school.
“Coach Mullen talking about the spread offense scared me to death but I think whether I’ve been the lead blocker for somebody or on special teams, I’ve been able to contribute since he’s gotten here,” Hanrahan said.
Hanrahan was used in the second half against Alabama Saturday night, getting a carry against the Crimson Tide.