I like to think I know a thing or two about football. Hell, everyone who wakes up to the ESPN Gameday crew at 9 a.m. every Saturday morning thinks he or she is the wisest of the wise about what happens on the turf.
But things are different.
Rewind to the beginning of the year and the Reggie Bush "pay for play" scandal. USC, a top football program for what seems like the last 100,000 years, gets put on some pretty harsh probation due to their formerly famous No. 5 being found guilty of receiving money for himself and his family.
When it comes to sports I wholeheartedly believe that money does not make you a better player. For years we've watched baseball players, cyclists, track stars and the like be persecuted for cheating due to steroids or performance-enhancing drugs.
College football is no longer an amateur sport. No matter what the talking heads say, the guys we watch every Saturday are far better athletes than people want to admit.
Enter Cameron Newton.
As I sat and watched what became an exciting Thursday night game on ESPN a couple of weeks ago, the ticker slowly ignited my worst fears. That Auburn's explosive No. 2 may have been involved in illegal (by the NCAA's standards) conduct.
Being an Auburn fan, it's easy for others to say that I'm biased and I'm living in a fantasy world where such a thing isn't possible. And yes, everyday I hear something new I wonder how much of this information would be relevant if Cam Newton wasn't up for the Heisman and the team he was playing for wasn't in the running to play in the BCS National Championship game.
On Oct. 23 I watched a 6'6", 250 pound quarterback run like I've never seen anyone run before. Paid or not, it was real.
It happened right before my eyes and that's something you cannot and should not take away from him.
Waking up every morning and hearing the most intelligent sportswriters and athletes say they wish this would go away shakes me to the core. It should be a wake-up call to the NCAA and every conference in America that people simply don't care anymore about a player possibly getting paid to play.
Is it fair? Of course not. But take a second to think about how much money college football generates for these universities. Would it really hurt to toss these guys a bone for entertaining the masses every week for a few months out of the year?
Something needs to change. I don't like scandals ruining my sports. The Brett Favre thing is pretty funny, but when things go on that affect what occurs on the field, that's when I have a problem.
“A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.” - Larry Bird