Meyer Blocked Media With Guard Inside Pressbox

EXCLUSIVE: As confirmed here last Friday, Urban Meyer has agreed in principle to become the next head football coach of Ohio State.

Urban Meyer confronts Jeremy Fowler of Orlando Sentinel

(Meyer “berated” reporter Jeremy Fowler in March, 2010. Later apologized.)

Nothing will be signed between Meyer and Ohio State until after the Buckeyes play Michigan on Saturday in Ann Arbor, with an announcement likely to come as soon as Monday or Tuesday.

Despite his ABC/ESPN broadcast crew being assigned to the same game on Saturday, multiple sources confirmed this week that Meyer told ESPN he would not work the game. When ESPN, unbeknownst to Meyer, then assigned him to work its GameDay production on location before the Alabama-Auburn game, the coach refused that assignment as well. Eventually ESPN and Meyer agreed on his working Saturday in Bristol.

Why did Meyer refuse assignments in Ann Arbor and Alabama? For the same reason a security guard was stationed inside his broadcast booth last Saturday at Michigan Stadium to block reporters from asking him anything about his agreement to coach Ohio State.

The same security guard, I have confirmed via multiple sources, is normally assigned to patrol the entire Michigan press box - not guard a broadcaster - as was the case last Saturday. The guard also escorted Meyer to and from the booth from inside the press box expressly to prevent the next Ohio State coach from being confronted by credentialed, working media.

ASSOCIATED PRESS reporter Larry Lage reported that Meyer “declined comment” before the game. Along with Lage, multiple sources said COLUMBUS DISPATCH reporter Todd Jones was also blocked by the security guard from engaging in any conversation with Meyer while inside the press box.

Despite Meyer using a security guard to block reporters from a story he was responsible for, sources also confirmed ESPN’s Joe Schad could be seen talking with Meyer inside the same media-embargoed Michigan Stadium broadcast booth before the game.

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‘Craig James gave Joe Schad Adam’s cell number’

The new Mike Leach book, Swing Your Sword, is out.

Mike Leach New Book: Swing Your Sword

In the book, Leach retells the events of his legally-challenged ouster at Texas Tech in late 2009 - and provides stunning new documents and details that verify a professional public relations campaign paid for and orchestrated by ESPN’s Craig James against the all-time winningest coach in Tech football history.

If you followed the story as it initially unfolded, you may be aware of at least some of the actions of Texas Tech officials during the regrettable episode. Actions that left Leach no choice but to seek legal remedy soon to culminate at the Texas Supreme Court.

If you were reading SbB at the time, it wasn’t unreasonable to suspect that Craig James and his professional public relations representative, Spaeth Communications founder Merrie Spaeth, may have had a role in shaping ESPN’s coverage of the story.

But now, thanks to Texas Tech’s status as a state-funded institution, emails obtained through open records requests by Leach and his attorneys show a concerted effort by Craig James and paid agents of the ESPN analyst to materially impact ESPN’s editorial approach to Leach’s untimely departure from Texas Tech.

Leach reports in his new book that even before a complaint against Leach was lodged by Craig James regarding the coach’s alleged mistreatment of his son - former Texas Tech football player Adam James - Craig James had hired Spaeth. (It was Spaeth who hatched the infamous Swift Boat public relations campaign that helped turn public opinion against John Kerry’s during the 2004 presidential election campaign.)

Here is one such email included in Swing Your Sword in which Spaeth Communications employee Rebecca Shaw asks Craig James in an emailif we want to forward the players’ names and numbers exclusively to [ESPN reporter] Joe [Schad].”:

From: Rebecca Shaw
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2009 11:30 PM
To: James, Craig Subject: RE: ESPN 6:29 PM

Craig - Merrie’s position - and I agree - is that the story has been put to bed tonight. Let’s take a look at the coverage first thing in the morning and make a decision then if we want to forward the players’ names and numbers exclusively to [ESPN’s] Joe [Schad], whether we want to include the AP reporter, or if we want to hold off a day to see if the university makes a statement. I’ll be up early checking the coverage. Merrie’s good with the statement that I drafted for you for ESPN. Would you like it circulated to Kevin and Jim or do you want to noodle on it awhile?

Rebecca Shaw Executive Vice President Spaeth Communications, Inc.

In addition to the emails, Leach reports in the following Swing Your Sword excerpt that Craig James went so far as to personally provide the cellphone number of his son, Adam James, to ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad: Read more…

ESPN Won’t Reveal Reason Behind Kiper Coverup

On May 29, ESPN’s Outside The Lines program aired an investigative piece on 7-on-7 summer football.


As part of the piece, Joe Schad confronted 17-year-old 7-on-7 participant DeonTay Thomas and Thomas’ 7-on-7 coach, 23-year-old Cory Robinson about a photo taken on a boat before a 7-on-7 tournament in South Carolina.

Though no NCAA violation has been traced to anything in connection to the photo of Thomas or his coach, in blindsiding the two on-camera about the picture, Schad’s implication was that Thomas and Robinson may have been involved in activity outside NCAA rules.

But while Schad employed “gotcha” journalism on an unsuspecting teenager and his 20-something coach, the ESPN Outside The Lines reporter completely ignored a startling detail about the website page where the same photo was originally located.


Just below the boat photo Schad characterized as a representation of the dubious nature of 7-on-7 football - on the same website page - was an ESPN publicity image of Mel Kiper, Jr.. Below that picture of Kiper was a message from the ESPN NFL Draft analyst pledging his “support” to the same organization Schad was castigating in his OTL hit piece.

After the Outside The Lines report aired, the photo of Kiper was removed from the website page though below is a screen capture of the page before the images of the boat and Kiper were removed:

Mel Kiper Jr Endorses 7 on 7 team from ESPN report

Unlike 17-year-old Thomas and 23-year-old Robinson, who the NCAA has not charged with any wrongdoing, Kiper was not interviewed for the Outside The Lines investigative piece nor was his presence on the same website page as the boat photo in question even acknowledged by ESPN.

Though ESPN’s Bob Ley did note Kiper’s involvement in 7-on-7 football before Schad’s piece aired. Ley on May 29:

“ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr., has been involved in the sport.”

Less than 10 minutes later, following Schad’s report, Ley said:

“We mentioned earlier Mel Kiper, Jr., has had an involvement with a national 7-on-7 tournament. He is no longer involved.”

On May 29, after the Outside The Lines 7-on-7 piece reported by Schad originally aired on ESPN, an accompanying ESPN.com article recounting the on-air OTL piece was posted. At the bottom of the story read:

“Editor’s note: ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has had involvement with a national 7-on-7 tournament, but he is no longer involved.”

On June 3 at 7:30pm ET, the message at the bottom of the same Outside The Lines 7-on-7 investigative piece on ESPN.com had been changed to:

“Editor’s note: This story, initially published May 29, noted that Mel Kiper Jr. was no longer involved with a national 7-on-7 tournament. On June 3, ESPN released the following statement: ‘Mel had told us that he was no longer going to be involved, but later changed his mind and is maintaining his relationship with the tournament.’

On June 4 at 10:30am ET, the message at the bottom of the same Outside The Lines 7-on-7 investigative piece on ESPN.com had been changed again:

“Editor’s note: This story, initially published May 29, noted that ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. was no longer involved with a national 7-on-7 tournament.”

Despite the latter claim that Kiper was “no longer involved with a national 7-on-7 on tournament,” Saturday I noted that ESPN Kiper was still formally involved in a 7-on-7 football-based business venture originating from the website 7on7u.com. A direct association which entailed an extensive network of Kiper-branded 7-on-7 events throughout the country culminating with a national tournament bearing his name,

Saturday I also noted the deletion of ESPN’s previous acknowledgement that Kiper had “changed his mind” and is “maintaining his relationship with the tournament.

Those events led me to conclude that ESPN was actively covering up Kiper’s involvement in the same activity Joe Schad cited in verbally attacking a 17-year-old high school student-athlete during his May 29 Outside The Lines piece.

ESPN Covers Up Mel Kiper 7-on-7 activities

After my post detailing the coverup, ESPN, for the fourth time, changed the disclosure tag which followed Schad’s Outside The Lines story on ESPN.com:

Editor’s note: This story, initially published May 29, noted that ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. was no longer involved with a national 7-on-7 tournament. On June 3, ESPN released the following statement: “Mel had told us that he was no longer going to be involved, but later changed his mind and is maintaining his relationship with the tournament.”

The change was clear confirmation that a coverup had indeed taken place.

So why did ESPN delete its own, previous acknowledgement of Kiper’s 7-on-7 activities?

Maybe it had something to do with the Southeastern Conference’s ban on all things 7-on-7 on Friday.

Or perhaps ESPN suddenly hiding Kiper’s 7-on-7 business venture less than 24 hours after the SEC’s newly-instituted embargo on 7-on-7 football was merely an extraordinary coincidence.

Or it could’ve been the fact that the NCAA, as noted by Schad in his Outside The Lines report, had recently hired “seven full-time investigators” to combat what was portrayed by Schad as a dubious development in college football recruiting.

That is, the recent growth of 7-on-7 football. (Thanks to people like Schad colleague Kiper.)

In requesting guidance on why ESPN had reversed field multiple times in its portrayal of Kiper’s 7-on-7 business venture, I was provided the following statement by ESPN vice president, public relations for college, news and networks information Josh Krulewitz:

“We were doing a story on 7 on 7 football and felt in interest of disclosure we should note Mel’s association which we did.

“It’s pretty simple and fairly standard in media for entities to note similar things as part of reporting when there is a connection.

“And as the Editor’s note on the report clearly states, Mel initially said he planned to end his association, but changed his mind and decided to maintain his connection.”

Over the past 48 hours, I did ask an ESPN official - multiple times - why the network changed its tune so many times about Kiper. I also inquired as to who at ESPN had knowledge of Kiper’s 7-on-7 association before the Outside The Lines piece was aired and why Kiper was not asked on-camera about his photographic presence on the same website page as the image cited by Schad in his “gotcha” of Thomas and Robinson.

The above statement was the response I was provided to those inquiries, leaving open the question of why Kiper was given a pass by ESPN for his 7-on-7 activities while others, who have not been proven to have committed NCAA violations, were not.

And why ESPN would allow Kiper to be involved in an activity that his employer’s award-winning investigative unit, Outside The Lines, recently portrayed as a serious threat to the integrity of college football’s observance of NCAA rules.

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ESPN Covers Up Mel Kiper’s SEC-Banned Activity

Last Sunday ESPN aired an in-depth piece from its award-winning investigative unit Outside The Lines targeting what has become public enemy number one for NCAA rules enforcement officials: 7-on-7 summer football.

ESPN covers up Mel Kiper SEC-Banned Activity

(ESPN noted - then deleted - Kiper’s refusal to give up 7-on-7 biz venture)

In the piece, ESPN OTL reporter Joe Schad revealed that the NCAA had recently hired seven full-time NCAA rules enforcement officials to investigate anything and everything related to 7-on-7. Less than a week later the crown jewel of ESPN editorial, Outside The Lines, proved prescient as the Southeastern Conference officially banned conference coaches from any involvement with 7-on-7 - along with a permanent SEC embargo on all on-campus 7-on-7-related activities by conference institutions.

The latter development, which involves a $2.25 billion broadcast partner of ESPN, makes the televison network’s decision to allow ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr.’s now-documentedheavy involvement” in the same now-SEC-banned 7-on-7 activities newsworthy and - from the NCAA’s perspective - noteworthy.

At least if we’re to believe the recent, multiple updates to the Outside The Lines 7-on-7 story published on ESPN.com in the last 24 hours.

On May 29, after the Outside The Lines 7-on-7 piece reported by Schad originally aired on ESPN, an accompanying ESPN.com article recounting the on-air OTL piece was posted. At the bottom of the story read:

“Editor’s note: ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has had involvement with a national 7-on-7 tournament, but he is no longer involved.”

On June 3 at 7:30pm ET, the message at the bottom of the same Outside The Lines 7-on-7 investigative piece on ESPN.com had been changed to:

ESPN Covers Up Mel Kiper 7-on-7 activities after SEC ban

“Editor’s note: This story, initially published May 29, noted that Mel Kiper Jr. was no longer involved with a national 7-on-7 tournament. On June 3, ESPN released the following statement: ‘Mel had told us that he was no longer going to be involved, but later changed his mind and is maintaining his relationship with the tournament.’

On June 4 at 10:30am ET, the message at the bottom of the same Outside The Lines 7-on-7 investigative piece on ESPN.com had been changed again:

ESPN Covers Up Mel Kiper 7-on-7 activities after SEC ban

“Editor’s note: This story, initially published May 29, noted that ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. was no longer involved with a national 7-on-7 tournament.”

So why did ESPN delete the note about Kiper “changing his mind” and deciding to “maintain” his extensive, NCAA-targeted 7-on-7 summer football activities?

On June 3, Chris Low of ESPN.com reported from the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Florida:

The SEC will also have oversight on those players placed on medical scholarship and has banned coaches from being involved in 7-on-7 events for high school prospects and will no longer allow 7-on-7 events to be held on SEC campuses.”

On June 3, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said of the new conference ban on all things 7-on-7:

“There’s a sense in football by the coaches and some of us that there’s a bit of creep and that we think it’s in our best interest to do what we can to stop it.”

18 months ago, in announcing ESPN’s new $2.25 billion television deal with the SEC, ESPN’s executive vice president for programming acquisition and strategy John Wildhack said:

“This deal gives us an opportunity to associate ourselves with the preeminent athletic conference in the country. With all due respect to other conferences, there’s a passion and a fervor here that is unique.

“The SEC is king.”

Indeed, as the conference is so important to ESPN management as to neuter the editorial integrity of ESPN’s signature vehicle for sports journalism, Outside The Lines.


If one or more of those “seven full-time NCAA investigators” hired expressly to police the now SEC-banned activity of 7-on-7  football pays a visit to Mel Kiper, Jr., to investigate his 7-on-7 football business venture, is it unreasonable to assume ESPN will cover that up too?

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Update: “Mel Kiper Is Very Involved” With 7 on 7?

Last night I revealed that Mel Kiper, Jr. was unintentionally outed by his colleagues at ESPN after Joe Schad’s Outside the Lines hit piece on 7 on 7 summer football ensnared Kiper’s active involvement in the practice.

Mel Kiper Jr 7on7u Championship Series Facebook Page On June 3 2011

(New entry posted today on Kiper 7 on 7 official Facebook page)

Following Schad’s ‘gotcha’ report last Sunday, ESPN noted on-air and on ESPN.com: ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has had involvement with a national 7-on-7 tournament, but he is no longer involved.”

But six days after Kiper’s employer claimed on-air and online that he had disassociated himself with a 7 on 7 football enterprise bearing his name and active participation - if we are to believe a new message on the official Facebook page for the “Mel Kiper, Jr. 7on7u National Championship Series” - that apparently is untrue.


As I noted last night, Kiper has not removed himself from the website promoting, as ESPN called it, his “involvement with a national 7-on-7 tournament.” And this morning, the official Facebook page for Kiper’s 7 on 7-based venture stated in an entry posted at 5am PT (6/3/2011): “Mel is very involved.

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Schadenfreude: ESPN Dragnet Catches Mel Kiper

Sunday ESPN’s award-winning Outside the Lines franchise aired a piece reported by Joe Schad in which the ESPN reporter employed a “gotcha” moment on a college football prospect and his summer 7 on 7 football coach.


But instead of victimizing his intended targets, Schad unwittingly outed the formal involvement of one of his colleagues in the very activity an NCAA enforcement official frowned upon in the same “OTL” report.

To leadoff his examination of the dubious NCAA nature of 7 on 7 football, Schad cited a photo taken on a 60-foot yacht that included the aforementioned prospect, DeonTay McManus of the “Next Level Nation (NLN)” 7 on 7 summer football team. The ESPN reporter also noted McManus’ coach, Cory Robinson, had knowledge of the photo and the activity that led to the image.

During separate interviews, Schad then confronted McManus and Robinson with the picture.

Though in attempting to shame McManus and Robinson for activity not yet proven to be against NCAA rules, Schad neglected to tell his ESPN audience that on the same webpage where that yacht photo was located was an image of ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., accompanied by the message: “NLN Supporter Mel Kiper Jr. ESPN Draft Expert.

Mel Kiper Jr Endorses 7 on 7 team from ESPN report

The yacht and Kiper photos have since been removed from the webpage, but still show up via this Google cache link. (For now.)

After I watched the ESPN report and discovered Kiper’s photo on the NLN 7 on 7 team website, I quickly located a site called 7on7u.com that featured an entire 7 on 7 summer football concept co-branded with Mel Kiper Jr.’s likeness and active participation in promoting the venture.

Mel Kiper 7on7u.com

(Images taken from front page of 7on7u.com on June 2, 2011)

It was as slick and professional a presentation I’ve seen involving all things 7 on 7 since I started tracking such ventures.

Kiper is seen in videos and promotional materials on the site touting something called, “Mel Kiper, Jr.’s 7 on 7 University” and the “Mel Kiper, Jr. 7 on 7 National Championship Series.

You can even watch video of Kiper hosting and narrating a 7 on 7-based camp that took place just last week at a high school in Virginia. (May 22, 2011.)

So what was Kiper’s reaction to Schad’s hit piece on the same NCAA-targeted enterprise in which he’s obviously invested a significant amount of time and effort?

At the end of the ESPN.com post detailing Schad’s OTL report, this passage was added after the piece initially aired on ESPN television:

Editor’s note: ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has had involvement with a national 7-on-7 tournament, but he is no longer involved.

I initially did not report on Kiper’s involvement in an activity NCAA Director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism Rachel Newman-Baker said in Schad’s report could “jeopardize the (NCAA) eligibility” of individuals participating in it.

That changed though when I discovered today, five days later, that Kiper still has a presence on the 7on7u.com website and its accompanying social networking sites - including Facebook. Here’s a screen shot of the official “Mel Kiper Jr. 7on7u National Championship Series” Facebook page on June 2, 2011 at 7:00pm PT:

Mel Kiper Jr 7on7u Championship Series Facebook Page On June 2 2011

Perhaps, like so many other NCAA member institutions in the past, “Mel Kiper, Jr. 7 on 7 University” figures the intercollegiate governing body will give him a pass.

Wouldn’t be the first time.

Safe now to assume “Willie Lyles 7 on 7 University” won’t be far behind?

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Does Mullen’s Wife Hold Key To Cam’s Eligibility?

While the NCAA has temporarily rendered Cam Newton eligible to play football for Auburn, the governing body has made (somewhat) clear that its investigation into Newton’s recruitment is ongoing.

Dan and Megan Mullen

(Dan and Megan Mullen)

Though there’s a good chance none of the controversy involving Newton’s recruitment ever would’ve come to light had Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com not broken the news on November 5 that a third party, later identified as Kenny Rogers, solicited money from Mississippi State in exchange for Cam Newton’s enrollment at MSU.

Excerpt:

During the height of star quarterback Cam Newton’s recruitment out of junior college last year, a man who said he represented Newton allegedly was soliciting a six-figure payment to secure his signature on a national letter of intent, ESPN.com has learned.

Rogers later said that he had asked for the cash after he was directed to do so by Newton’s father Cecil. Rogers also subsequently noted that Newton made his solicitation known to Mississippi State coaches during an in-person meeting in November, 2009.

Less than a week after ESPN.com broke the Newton story, Joe Schad of ESPN.com reported the only story to date that points to Cam Newton having direct knowledge of the “pay-for-play plan” concocted by his father and Rogers for his football services.

Excerpt:

Two sources who recruit for Mississippi State said that Cecil Newton and his son, quarterback Cam Newton, said in separate phone conversations that his college choice would be part of a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.

Mississippi State compliance officials relayed the alleged conversations to Southeastern Conference compliance officials in January, according to two other sources close to the football program.

The SEC office later disputed that it had been made aware by MSU of such phone calls.

In its ruling yesterday, the NCAA essentially confirmed the original Nov. 5 ESPN.com report that Cecil Newton and Kenny Rogers actively marketed Cam Newton’s football skills to Mississippi State. But the NCAA did not comment on ESPN.com’s story that Cam and his father acknowledged taking money in phone calls to two MSU recruiters.

Of course, if the NCAA were to find that those calls took place, Cam Newton’s college football career would be over.

Since the ESPN.com report of the alleged Newton phone calls, no one affiliated with Mississippi State has questioned the veracity of the report, but clearly Schad’s claim has gotten little to no traction from the NCAA and the media.

Why? Read more…

Schad: “I Don’t Really Care Who The Source Is”

Yesterday while speaking to Brandon Marcello of the JACKSON (MS) CLARION-LEDGER, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive expressed concern about the prospect that Mississippi State-affiliated sources may have leaked information to the media about alleged impropriety involving the recruitment of Cam Newton.

Joe Schad: Mike Slive Does Care Who His Sources Are

(”Disappointed” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive Does)

One of those reports, which the SEC has now verified as false, was a Joe Schad-authored ESPN story this week that cited, “two sources who recruit for Mississippi State.” Lede of that report:

Two sources who recruit for Mississippi State said that Cecil Newton and his son, quarterback Cam Newton, said in separate phone conversations that his college choice would be part of a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.

Mississippi State compliance officials relayed the alleged conversations to Southeastern Conference compliance officials in January, according to two other sources close to the football program.

From Schad’s story, the implication was that the SEC had been sitting on possible serious NCAA violations for 11 months. But after Schad’s report was released, the SEC confirmed that, to this day, it has never been informed of such phone conversations.

From John Zenor of the ASSOCIATED PRESS:

SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said Wednesday evening that there was also no mention of the reported conversations in either of the school’s reports to the league.

In the aftermath of Schad’s erroneous, Mississippi State-sourced report this week, Slive was asked by the Clarion-Ledger’s Marcello “if the SEC could punish MSU if coaches and/or staff members were found to have leaked information to the media?

SEC Commissioner Slive:

“That’s something we will have to determine once we really know who did what, what the facts are and … once all the established facts are in. When I mean established facts, I don’t mean when somebody (alleges) something. Once (the facts are) in, they’re in and we’ll be able to determine what’s appropriate.”

In other words, yes.

Thursday Schad appeared on the David Pollack & Mike Bell show on WQXI-AM in Atlanta. When talking about the sourcing of his reporting, Schad said:
Read more…

SEC: ESPN Report Wrong, Calls Never Reported

Tuesday Joe Schad of ESPN reported these allegations against Cam and Cecil Newton:

ESPN story about Cam Newton phone calls wrong

Two sources who recruit for Mississippi State said that Cecil Newton and his son, quarterback Cam Newton, said in separate phone conversations that his college choice would be part of a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.

Mississippi State compliance officials relayed the alleged conversations to Southeastern Conference compliance officials in January, according to two other sources close to the football program.

John Zenor of the ASSOCIATED PRESS reports that the SEC has since confirmed that it never received any information regarding alleged phone calls involving the Newtons. From Zenor’s AP report: Read more…

ESPN: MSU Coaches Leaked Damning Cam Calls

If there was any doubt who leaked the most recent, and damaging story about Cam Newton and his father Cecil to ESPN earlier this week, there isn’t now.

Mullen verifies no recruiters besides MSU coaches

Wednesday ESPN’s Joe Schad reported:

Two sources who recruit for Mississippi State said that Cecil Newton and his son, quarterback Cam Newton, said in separate phone conversations that his college choice would be part of a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.

Thanks to information provided by Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen on the record to the media yesterday - and if Schad’s report is true - those sources have been indisputably verified as Mississippi State football coaches.

NEMS360.com Mississippi State beat reporter Brad Locke Tweeted this yesterday during Mullen’s media teleconference:

Mullen, when asked if anyone besides coaches are registered recruiters for MSU: “No.”

Brandon Marcello, who also covers the daily Mississippi State football beat for the CLARION (MS) LEDGER, was the one who asked Mullen the above question. He also noted:

An ESPN.com report cited “recruiters” as sources late Tuesday night. Those recruiters say, according to ESPN.com, that Newton and his father, Cecil Newton, admitted to a “pay-for-play plan” in separate phone conversations with MSU recruiters.

The term “recruiters” raised questions and I asked Mullen today if anyone besides his assistant coaches were registered as recruiters with the NCAA. His answer was a short and pointed “no.”

I’m still attempting to contact MSU to see who is registered as a recruiter with the NCAA. My phone calls have, so far, gone unanswered.

That information could easily be had via a Freedom Of Information act, as Mississippi State is a publicly-funded state institution, but there’s no need. Mullen already confirmed it himself.

So now that we’ve established that MSU football coaches leaked the information about the Newton phone calls to Schad - if his ESPN report is correct - then why did John Bond, who is not a member of the MSU coaching staff, officially report the information about other alleged recruiting impropriety involving Newton to Mississippi State - and then front the story on MSU’s behalf for ESPN?

As a refresher, here’s the original headline from ESPN.com from ESPN’s first report about possible Newton recruiting impropriety: “Cam Newton offered for cash in exchange for signing letter of intent, ex-Mississippi State quarterback said - ESPN

John Bond fronted initial ESPN report on Newton, Rogers

That headline makes it sound like Bond was the source of the complaint to MSU against Newton, but from what we know now - including Bond confirming there “were two people” between him and alleged middeman Kenny Rogers - was he really?

In Bond’s original, on the record statement to ESPN last week about alleged impropriety involving the recruitment of Newton, he himself did not name Rogers as the middleman allegedly soliciting money on Newton’s behalf.

Instead it was ESPN, in that same initial report, that identified Rogers as the alleged go-between. (Without Rogers being named, ESPN really had no story.)

So how did ESPN get the information that Rogers was initially involved?

Now that we indisputably have verified - if ESPN’s report is accurate - that the MSU coaches leaked the Newton phone call info to ESPN, and that Bond said there were two people between him and alleged middleman Rogers, and Joe Schad’s source for the ESPN Newton phone call story was “two sources who recruit for Mississippi State, is it unreasonable to think that the same coaches leaked the info about Rogers to ESPN for its first report?

And that those same MSU coaches then proceeded to hide behind Bond as the public front for the initial, ESPN breaking story about Newton and Rogers?

And what of ESPN in all of this? Why did Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach author the first story about Newton and then have Joe Schad report the second? Read more…