The serpentine and gothic saga of Ole Miss’ recruiting violations lost a bit of luster on Wednesday as AL.com reported that a source familiar with the tape of Leo Lewis’ mother supposedly describing inducements offered her by other SEC schools may not include that sort of dialogue at all. So much for mutually assured destruction, then.
The source acknowledges the existence of a taped conversation with Lewis’ mother but disputes a report by Rebel Grove that she asked Ole Miss for money and detailed incentives offered by other SEC schools, including Mississippi State. AL.com’s report, then, draws some air out of a balloon that had grown into a sort of Cam Newton fiasco in miniature.
Lewis is a current Mississippi State linebacker who was recruited by Ole Miss and is reportedly one of the rival players who spoke to NCAA investigators about the Rebels under the promise of immunity. That testimony is believed to have led to the NCAA’s allegation that an Ole Miss coach facilitated the payment of up to $15,600 in cash to a recruit.
Just so we’re clear: AL.com does not specify whether its source has actually heard the tape themselves. The source did not describe what the tape contains—only what it doesn’t. At this point, we have no idea whose source is correct (hell, they could both be wrong).
What AL.com’s source also disputes is the timing and facts of whom Ole Miss sent the tape to — the SEC? NCAA? — and when they sent it. From AL.com:
The source also said that the SEC has not heard the tape but is aware of its existence and that the NCAA was aware of the tape before issuing Ole Miss its expanded Notice of Allegations.
It’s that “the NCAA was aware of the tape before issuing Ole Miss its expanded Notice of Allegations” part that’s particularly interesting, given Lewis’ promise of immunity over and against, and predating, the NCAA’s decision to ramp up the number and severity of allegations lodged against Hugh Freeze and company.
Here’s where we’re at now: (1) there is in existence a taped conversation between Leo Lewis’ mother and an unnamed second party, the former of which may or may not name non-Ole Miss schools and real offers of real money; (2) the SEC and NCAA are at least aware of the existence of said tape, but it’s unconfirmed whether the luminaries at those respective offices have in fact listened to the tape.
UPDATE: Kevin Scarbinsky, the reporter of Wednesday’s article on AL.com, appeared on Head to Head Super Talk Mississippi Thursday (you can listen to his spot here), and admits that neither he nor probably his source for his report has listened to the tape. Gridiron Now’s Brad Logan provides a partial transcript:
Scarbinsky, who, again, has not heard the tape, ran an anonymously sourced report based on an interview with someone who also hasn’t listened to the tape (probably). But that source claims to know what is and isn’t said on the tape.