For weeks I have wanted to write that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is, without a doubt, this season’s best college football player and should easily win the Heisman Trophy. I’ve wanted to write superlatives about the effortless way in which he throws the football and the gliding, elusive way he runs with it too.
Now I can write this story, because this week the NCAA made the only decision it could and essentially exonerated Cam Newton, putting the blame (without penalty) on the young man’s father.
The surprisingly hurried up report (speed in decision making is extremely rare for the NCAA), essentially contends that Cam’s daddy, the Reverend Bishop Cecil Newton, is responsible and that Auburn’s quarterback was unaware of his father’s actions. It goes on to suggest that while Rev. Newton admittedly sought money, there is nothing to prove he actually took any.
Of course Cecil Newton was wrong, but according to the NCAA, the reverend’s sins were not enough to taint his son.
Which means Cam Newton will NOT be declared ineligible and WILL be able to play in the SEC championship game against South Carolina. And if undefeated Auburn wins, the team will get to play in the BCS national championship game as well.
All season rumors swirled that Reverend Cecil Newton shopped his son to various schools, including Mississippi State, seeking as much as $180 thousand to get his son to enroll and that his son Cam knew nothing about it. If you believe that’s how it really went down, then I have some prime land to sell you in Siberia.
No, the NCAA decision in the Newton case is not a tidy outcome. There are still way too many unanswered questions, such as, did Auburn pay for Newton’s services? But, ironically, the decision to wash its hands of this sordid affair may have been the only wise thing the NCAA could do.
The culture of big-time college sports is corrupted and everyone knows it, most of all the NCAA. To me, it appears the decision to clear Cam Newton is basically an admission by the NCAA that hypocrisy, double-standards and cash under the table have always been a part of college sports and that there is very little that can be done about it, except in the most obvious of cases.
Still, I think the NCAA finally used common sense and did what it had to do in a season when it is obvious to everyone who the best player on the field is, Cam Newton. Now there is nothing to stand in the way of Heisman voters to cast a ballot for Cam Newton.
Look before anyone gets his or her nose out of joint and acts all sanctimonious, lets deal with facts. Cam Newton is not the first, nor will he be the last player, to raise our suspicions. Funny money has been passed under the table to college players and or their families since the days of Red Grange.
The NCAA also knew that it badly botched the Reggie Bush case. It was a mess that should have been resolved years ago had the NCAA acted with intelligence and speed. Unfortunately the fiasco, which resulted in Bush forfeiting the 2005 Heisman, and his school USC giving up the 2004-05 national championship, was only adjudicated this year.
While I think we will agree that sports crimes are common and maybe even rampant, they are rarely conclusively proven.
While the Cam Newton case appears closed, one thing I’m fairly certain of, is that no lessons were learned. I’m also pretty sure another top college star will be embroiled in scandal in the near future. That’s the way it has always been in college sports. Those who think otherwise are just wishful thinkers.