Heisman 2010: Big Cam, the Big Scam, and the Big Sham

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Heisman 2010:  Big Cam, the Big Scam, and the Big Sham

As we in the media wake up on another Heisman Saturday, there seems to be a lack of suspense about who will win the 2010 Heisman Trophy.  I agree that the majority of Heisman voters lack the stones to give the award to an athlete who actually fits the criteria set forth in the mission statement of the Heisman Trust (the first sentence of said mission statement to be exact), but I disagree that this year's announcement lacks the element of suspense.

The votes are already in, so there is nothing left but the announcement.  This disclaimer is to simply pull the rug out from anyone dumb enough to suggest that this article was meant to somehow affect the vote. 

I have no doubt that Big Cam (sans his Father Cecil) will be up on stage tonight hoisting the most coveted award in College Football, so that's not where suspense comes in to play. 

No, my friends, the suspense will come in trying to guess how long he will be able to keep it.

I earlier alluded to the mission statement of the Heisman Trust, which states: "The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity." 

Integrity.  Without that word, I would be the first to say that not only should Cam Newton win the Heisman, but he should get to keep it forever.  But the word is there, in crystal clear black and white. 

It's not like it's buried somewhere deep down in the paragraph, it's in the first sentence of the mission statement, and there is no hiding from it.

Some, including the NCAA, argue that the fact (no longer an allegation) that Cecil Newton sought to receive a large cash payment for his son to play college football shouldn't affect Cam because there is no evidence that he knew anything about the big scam.  Never mind that a member of the Mississippi State coaching staff has said that Cam Newton personally told him over the phone that the reason he chose Auburn was because his father said the "money was just too much."

Never mind that one of Cecil Newton's churches was on the brink of foreclosure, but then shortly after Cam signed with Auburn that church suddenly caught up on it's mortgage and subsequently went through a major renovation thanks to an "anonymous donation."

Who wants to bet that the studs on the building are "Yellow Wood?"  But hey, it's possible that Cam didn't know anything about it, right?

Just for the sake of argument, let's focus on what we actually know.  We know that while attending the University of Florida, Cam Newton was caught in possession of a stolen laptop.  Some say he stole it, some say that he bought it after it had been stolen. But the fact is that he was in possession of stolen property. 

We also know that on two occasions, Cam Newton willfully and knowingly committed academic fraud.  He was set to appear before a campus judicial board the following spring where he faced possible expulsion from the university, but that day never happened because he left Florida to attend a junior college in Texas.

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At the time, Newton said he made the move because Tim Tebow had decided to return to Florida for his senior season.  As it turns out, Cam had not registered for the spring semester by the deadline, which was at least two months prior to Tebow's announcement that he would be back.  It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that Newton was avoiding the consequences of his actions. 

This wasn't Cam's father. This wasn't some shady agent or booster. This was Cam Newton.  And we're back to that word "integrity."

Now let's look at the recent actions of the NCAA.  Right before the season started, the NCAA decided that Mississippi quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who had recently transferred after being dismissed from Oregon, was going to be ineligible for the 2010 season. 

It became public right away, even though the University of Mississippi appealed the ruling and was scheduled to go before the NCAA's reinstatement committee.  Mississippi got its hearing, and the ruling was reversed and announced on the eve of Ole Miss' first game of the season.

Fast forward to a week before the SEC Championship game.  The NCAA finally compiled enough evidence to suggest that Cecil Newton had violated recruiting rules, and as a consequence Cam Newton was rendered ineligible to play football. 

There was no press release—in fact, no one was informed of the ruling aside from Auburn University, who immediately appealed the ruling.  The NCAA reinstatement committee rendered a reversal of the ruling within hours, some say minutes, of the original ineligibility.  Then the press release went out that Newton was "reinstated" before anybody knew he was ever ineligible to begin with.

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On top of this, the press release included a statement from SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. This indicates to me that not only was Slive kept well informed of the entire process, but he was obviously okay with the outcome. 

But let's face it, if Auburn delivers the fifth straight BCS National Championship to the SEC, the conference stands to make a windfall in the tens of millions of dollars.  And if down the line that championship is vacated, the SEC doesn't have to give the money back, so why not just go along with the program?

People may think that I'm being too hard on Slive, and that this was the NCAA's doing and beyond his control, but they would be wrong.  The SEC has it's own set of bylaws that either mirror or strengthen the NCAA's eligibility and conduct rules of college athletes.  Take a look at this SEC Bylaw (section 19.10.3.4):

The Commissioner has the duty and power to investigate the validity of violations and impose penalties and sanctions against member institutions, their athletic staff members or student-athletes, for practices and conduct which violate the spirit, as well as the letter of NCAA and SEC rules and regulations. This shall include the ability to render prospective student-athletes or current student-athletes ineligible for competition due to their involvement in a violation of NCAA or SEC rules that occurs during the individual's recruitment.

"Duty and power."  This means that it's not really an option for Slive. As commissioner he has the duty to react a certain way to an issue. 

Then there's the issue of "Spirit."  How many of you lawyers out there have heard a judge talk about violating the "Spirit" of a law even if it was not proven that the law was actually broken? 

Can even the most ardent Cam Newton supporter intelligently argue that the "spirit" of the NCAA rules were not broken?  Not with a straight face. Slive is derelict in his duties by ignoring this bylaw set forth by his own conference.

Look, I'm as big of an SEC homer as there is.  And it's one thing to be hated because you're the best.  We are.  And second place isn't even close. 

But it's another thing to be hated and criticized for acting like prostitutes, which the SEC clearly did in this case.  It's all about the money and the erosion of the term "student-athlete."

So tonight, Newton will hoist the Heisman Trophy as the media looks on with awe and college football fans look on with disgust. 

And on January 10th, Newton will hoist the crystal football from the Coaches Trophy for the fifth straight time for the SEC, and the seventh time since the inception of the BCS.  The SEC will get their money, Newton will get more money in a few months at the NFL Draft, and true college football fans can sit back and watch their beloved sport turn into the National Football League.

By the way, if Cecil Newton can make money off of Cam Newton, then so can anybody.  To get your "Scam Newton" merchandise, click here!

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