The father of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, who was involved in a failed pay-for-play scheme during his son's recruitment at Mississippi State, said Thursday that he will not attend the Heisman Trophy ceremony because his presence might "rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment."
Cecil Newton, invited to attend Saturday by the Heisman Trust, said in a statement: "For all of my 50 years of life, coupled with 25 years of marriage, I have made an exhausting attempt to be a good husband, father and generally a good person of integrity. The past 60 days have caused all that my family worked to accomplish to come into question.
"So that my son Cam Newton can receive all the honors and congratulations that he has worked so hard to accomplish without distraction, I have decided not to be in attendance at the ceremony as it will perhaps rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment."
The NCAA reinstated Newton after a one-day suspension by Auburn last week, ruling that neither the player nor Auburn knew of his father's attempts to get money.
Newton said it wasn't for him to say if his father had done anything wrong.
"My love for him is unconditional," Cam Newton said. "This type of situation can split a family, but it makes us stronger."
Newton said his recruitment came down to Mississippi State and Auburn.
"I had no dealings with nobody at Mississippi State during the time that I came to Auburn," Newton told ESPN on Thursday. "But I felt that, as a whole, Auburn possessed what's best for Cam Newton, and that's why I decided to come here."
He said he spoke to MSU coach Dan Mullen and his wife, Megan, after coming to his decision.
ESPN had said Newton told a Mississippi State recruiter that his father chose Auburn because "the money was too much."
"I'm not here to talk about any reports," Newton said Thursday, later adding that nothing was misunderstood in his conversation with the Mullens.
"I told him what I had in my heart at the time," Newton said. "The conversation was rather emotional and was hard for me to do it. And I know it was probably hard for them to receive it.''
FSU's Fisher sees recruiting advantage
TALLAHASSEE — Florida State already has secured 19 commitments from the class of 2011, but coach Jimbo Fisher is hoping that Urban Meyer's resignation from Florida benefits the Seminoles' recruiting efforts.
"They were using the turmoil going on here for all the time to do that," Fisher said, referring to FSU's uncertain coaching situation toward the end of the Bobby Bowden era. "I mean, that's part of the business … the good thing, we don't have many guys left to get. But it could influence (recruiting) and hopefully it'll help."
About two months remain before national signing day. Fisher said Meyer's resignation "will cause some kids to think."
notable: Fisher hopes running back Jermaine Thomas can play in the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl against South Carolina after missing three games with a knee injury. … South Carolina's Steve Spurrier was named SEC coach of the year by his fellow coaches. … FSU is exploring hosting a Thursday night game in 2011.
Report: Pelini joins the Miami mix, Mullen out
CORAL GABLES – Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has spoken to Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt about the Hurricanes' coaching job and is in the mix, but he has not been offered it, the Sun Sentinel reported
Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said he did not give permission to Pelini to speak to UM. Pelini, who turns 43 next month, told the Lincoln Journal Star: "I don't address rumor and innuendo."
The Miami Herald reported that Pelini has expressed interest and also reservations about UM.
Reports have Hocutt speaking to Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, Connecticut's Randy Edsall, Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville and Temple's Al Golden; Mullen and Golden are no longer possibilities.
There is some thought that Mullen would be more interested in filling the Florida opening. "I haven't had contact with anybody (at UF)," he said Thursday. "The only person I have talked to about coaching positions is sitting right here at the end of the table (athletic director Scott Stricklin). I'm very happy at MSU, and I have no plans on going anywhere." Mullen said he sent Meyer a text message wishing him well.
Pittsburgh: Dave Wannstedt, who resigned Tuesday, will be the acting coach in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 8, then assume his role in administration.
Gators vs. Hurricanes
Florida and Miami are looking for football coaches at the same time for the first time since 1978. Then, Florida hired Charley Pell to replace the fired Doug Dickey, and Miami hired Howard Schnellenberger to replace the fired Lou Saban. Pell was fired early in the 1984 season and the Gators ended up on probation. Schnellenberger led the Hurricanes to the 1983 national title and set the stage for UM's decade of dominance. Now, the Hurricanes have a head start on replacing Randy Shannon, but the Gators can offer more money, better facilities and with two of the nation's best recruiting classes the last two years have good, young talent.