So Cam Newton is eligible at Auburn:
I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover the army of Internet lawyers and would-be lawyers that swore Newton would be declared ineligible based on his father’s transgressions actually knew less than the paid professionals in Auburn’s compliance department, who have been insisting for weeks via channels both underground and less so that Newton would end up in the clear.
Not even the ruling has slowed the Newton naysayers, of course, who have universally declared that if the NCAA didn’t find Newton ineligible, then the problem isn’t that Newton wasn’t ineligible to begin with, the problem is that the NCAA itself doesn’t realize he’s ineligible.
By this point, I’m just laughing. Newton’s going to take the field Saturday, he’s going to take the field in Auburn’s BCS game, and if nothing else comes of the investigation (more on this later) the entire brouhaha is going to be nothing more than an ugly footnote. (A giant footnote, sure, but compared to the kind of season Auburn’s having and could go on to have, a footnote nonetheless.) As we learned when Newton beat Georgia, and again against the Tide, it’s amazing how much the Saturday arrival of actual football manages to overshadow what during the week seems like the end of the world. (If you want to be thankful for anything in this circus, Auburn fans, be grateful the story broke now and not during the horse latitudes of midsummer.)
But before I get to my other thoughts on the ruling, I’d like to offer you some thoughts on the man himself. They’re just not here; I’ve long been a reader and admirer of the online sports journal Norman Einstein’s Sports and Rocket Science Monthly — they write geeky, literary essays about sports, so being a geeky, literary sports fan, I never really had a choice — so when they asked me to write a piece arguing Cam’s Heisman candidacy as part of their Heisman special issue, I made the half-mistake of accepting. I say half-mistake because I wound up staying up half the night when sleep is at the kind of premium it wasn’t even during Finals week, and because writing anything long-form for somewhere that wasn’t here felt like a betrayal.
But only half-, because I like how it turned out. A sampling:
Since Bo was more avatar of some particularly violent law of physics than actual football player, this has proven difficult. We’ve taken to telling folklorish tales about his exploits away from the field to try and get our point across. There’s the time he got challenged by the team quarterback in practice and threw a football the length of the field, maybe through the uprights. The home run he hit at our baseball stadium that smashed the windshield of a car three blocks away. The afternoon all the other players were dragging tires around the practice field for conditioning, and Bo threw his harness belt around the moon and pulled it to the other side of the sky, causing unexpected high tides and great shrimping down on the coast. That sort of thing.
So when Newton began throwing pinpoint 50-yard bombs inside the 10 (his frequently off-kilter, back-foot mechanics only emphasizing his unnatural physical gifts) and following up on the very next play by bulldozing some hapless linebacker 4 yards backwards into his own end zone, we knew what we were seeing. The first whispered comparisons to Bo started just four weeks into the season, after the South Carolina game, the one he opened with a weaving 54-yard touchdown run that ended with a preposterous full-stretch dive for the pylon from a full 7 (or 8?) yards out. (We’re going to remember it years from now the way hoops fans remember Dr. J dunking from the free throw line.) By midseason, the comparisons were no longer sacrilege. Once he had vanquished LSU, “Is Cam the new Bo?” had become a legitimate topic of conversation, with the lean firmly towards “Yes.” And after he led the comeback at Tuscaloosa in the Iron Bowl, a victory so cerebellum-meltingly improbable we know it could only happen with the aid of one of the football immortals, it was official: he had ascended to the highest pinnacle of Auburn’s Mount Olympus. There’s a small temple up there, orange and blue columns out front, and it’s just Bo and Cam, hangin’ out. Pat Sullivan gets to stop by occasionally.
OK, onto more reax to the Newton finding:
— I tried to remember the last time I was that happy about something Auburn-related but not actual football. I failed. Even hearing that hotshot recruit X had committed/signed can’t compare to opening up that dry-as-dust release and reading “is immediately eligible.”
It was joyous. It was also a little weird.
— I think this “loophole” business is frankly nonsense –yes, I’m sure parents are just lining up to ask schools for money they can’t have at the risk of making their children ineligible every place they ask–but if you want to argue that Cam ought to be ineligible, that Cecil’s actions are transgressive enough that in the name of deterrence they should have made Cam persona non grata no matter where he enrolled, hey, knock yourself out. Auburn and the NCAA will be saying the tomato that matters, so say tomahto all you want. If Mike Slive and the NCAA feel this is a soft spot in the rulebook that needs to be toughened up for the next Cecil Newton, hey, their prerogative.
But if you’re going to tell us Cam is ineligible, based on the current bylaws of the SEC and NCAA, you can help yourself to a nice, tall, cool glass of Shut the Hell Up. The NCAA investigative body says he’s eligible. The NCAA president says he’s eligible. Mike Slive says he’s eligible. The SEC has explained why he’s eligible. Auburn’s staff of compliance professionals has, obviously, said he’s been eligible since July or whenever.
Ah, but you, Random College Football Writer or Fan on the Internet, you clearly know more about the bylaws in question than any of these people who make their living by knowing about them, you have the expertise and knowledge to tell us that the decision didn’t go “by the book” even though the people who made the decision wrote the damn book.
Hey, Random College Football Writer or Fan on the Internet, I’ve got a cousin who’s starting a restaurant; they’ve hired a chef, lifetime spent in the kitchen, cut his teeth in New York and Paris. But could you tell us what kind of recipes he ought to be using? We could use your expert advice.
(I should clarify that I also don’t have a problem with the skepticism that Cam never knew about Cecil’s discussions about payola at State; even I, truth be told, find it a little bit of a stretch that a father with that much input into his son’s football career would manage to keep something as big as his solicitation of State boosters a secret from him. But proving it was always impossible, of course, and seeing as I seriously doubt this was Cam’s idea or that telling his Dad to knock it off was ever a real option, I don’t think this does any damage to Cam’s personal moral high ground. Sorry if you disagree.)
— On a similar note, I’ve been just flabbergasted by the number of otherwise intelligent people who can’t tell the difference between previous NCAA cases in which someone, be it family member or athlete, received some sort of benefit and a case in which we have no evidence the Newtons (pere or fils) ever got a thing. I’ll just let Year2 do the talking for me:
Why did the NCAA not act in the same way it did in the _________ scandal?
Because this case is unique. Cocknfire already covered why this is different from the Albert Means case. It’s not the like the Reggie Bush case because the NCAA found that both Bush and USC assistant coach Todd McNair knew about the extra benefits. This is different from Damon Stoudamire because his dad was found to have received extra benefits while no one at the moment has any evidence of Cecil Newton receiving any money. This different from A.J. Green because he received money for the jersey he stole sold. This is different from Marvin Austin and friends because they got free travel and a party thrown for them.
Noticing a trend? The difference here is that according to the story that the NCAA currently believes, Cecil Newton never got any money from anyone. As that’s the case, you can’t compare this to another case where someone actually received extra benefits of some kind.
— Here’s something hysterical: everyone outside of Auburn looked at the reports that the AU compliance department and the NCAA met the Thursday before the Georgia game, and assumed that meeting was where the NCAA warned Auburn they shouldn’t be playing Newton and Auburn responded by saying SCREW YOU GUYS, WE DO WHAT WE WANT.
Instead, the stunningly neat-n’-tidy resolution this week suggests that what happened was that the NCAA and Auburn came together to agree on the package of facts delivered to the SEC this week, and on which the Cam decision was based. The moment where we were told Auburn was thumbing its nose at the NCAA was, in fact, the moment where Auburn and the NCAA were working most closely together.
I believe the phrase is “LOL.”
— Speaking of that particular incident, it’s worth noting that it was the Atlanta TV report and good ol’ P-Marsh who reported the facts of that meeting — that Cecil admitted to asking for money but that Cam was in the dark, and that the NCAA came away giving Cam the OK to keep playing — while the national media was losing its head. It’s the Auburn-centric whispers that Cam would be OK all along that have been proven right while the work of the likes of Joe Schad has been proven irrelevant at best and outright unfactual at worst.
The lesson: where Auburn is concerned, we ought to get our scoop from the Auburn-based media. Not everything they did during this saga covered them in glory (the energy with which they played whack-a-mole with the sources in the Evans/Thamel reports could have been better used at times), but most of the truly important facts of this story have been found in places other than the national media. It’s the truth.
— OK, lastly, we’ll need to remember: this isn’t over yet. It’s not as not over as many would have us believe. But as long as the NCAA is still poking around Cecil Newton’s financial past, as long as the Mississippi Sec. of State is talking to Rogers and Bell, as long as the FBI is still out there lurking like some X-Files villain, there remains the distinct possibility there’s some new landmine yet to be uncovered that could blow everything to hell.
No, I don’t expect that to be the case; given his bumbling attempts to shake down the folks at State, I really don’t see Cecil as the kind of criminal mastermind who could (by all accounts) cooperate fully with the NCAA and Auburn, while a horde of reporters dig into his activities for weeks on end, and the specter of the FBI and their IRS buddies potentially threatening him with jail time, and still manage to keep a sum like $180,000 completely hid. I’d like to think that if there was anything to find, it would have been found by now.
But I don’t know it, not just yet. Until we get another delirium-inducing NCAA press release, we can’t breathe entirely easy. Easier, sure. But we’re not there yet.
Well put, Jerry. I suspect I’m not the only wareaglereader reader that has been awaiting your thoughts on this news, and as usual, you summed it up nicely!
All good points. It’s certainly nice to see Auburn’s Athletic and Compliance Departments vindicated.
Also to the Brooks’ and Clay Travis’s of the world: Stop talking out of every corner of your mouth. You keep saying that they “aren’t against Auburn” and supporting the concept of compensating college athletes. Yet at the same time you frequently infer that 1) Auburn paid Cam, 2) the NCAA is corrupt/incompetent/stupid and 3) Newton’s case = Bush’s case. This double talk is self-contradictory and pointless.
Re-read the statements made on Tuesday and yesterday by the NCAA. There are large, blatant differences. If you can’t figure that out, maybe you shouldnt list yourself as.a “lawyer” in your profile – aside, what kind of lawyer tweets about CFB every five minutes?
Josh Bynes said it best: “Even if you guys were told the truth, you wouldn’t believe it. The truth doesn’t sell.”
It’s astonishing how corrupt the NCAA is – they write their own rules and then they have the audacity to FOLLOW them.
War Damn Eagle, Jerry, and well said.
Will you remember all the little people now that you have made it big.
Congradulations, what a great article about Cameron.
I got goosebumps reading it.
It is a great time to be an AU Tiger.
War Damn Eagle Jerry!!!
I hope you get enough sleep!!
I understand completely, or think I do, how Auburn fans would get this “us-against-the-world” feeling regarding the Cam Newton situation. Much of the Internet vitrol has been fueled soley by jealousy or school-rivalry hatred. But I WOULD love to see at least a little disgust on the part of AU supporters for Cecil Newton’s actions. Surely, that can’t be defended.
“…unfactual…” I’m using that.
I’m glad Emmert came out and gave more background info as to what they used as mitigating circumstance, namely that NO BENEFITS WERE RECEIVED. For some reason, when this story that Cam was eleigible first aired on ESPN, they chose to say only that the reason was because Cam didn’t know his dad was working on a deal for him.
Now either that’s because the NCAA didn’t give a full explanation as to their findings, or ESPN just decided to air the most inflammatory reason at the exclusion of the more, to my way of thinking, relevant reason.
Either way, Cam is good to go now, Auburn is cleared, but it looks like Miss. St. might still have some issues.
If the elder Newton shopped his kid, he’s a low-life. Every Auburn fan I know – I will not even qualify that with a “most” – has said something to the equivalent. We also feel horribly embarrassed over the bad press Auburn has gotten nationally. Traditionally – and I have been an Auburn fan for 40 years – we have prided ourselves on character and honorable actions (read our creed – we actually consider it the ideal), so to go through this is hurtful and puts a damper on a dream season.
There you go – you heard it from someone who is an Aub to the bone.
Glad to hear you say that, CarolovesAU. I should say up front, I’m a UGA alumnus and fan who has always regarded Auburn with much respect, primarily because of the Vince Dooley, Joel Eaves link. Those were two of the classiest guys ever, in my opinion, and they came from Auburn, so I always figured Auburb was pretty classy, too. In your case, I ‘m right.
Auburn Elvis says
I’d like to think Terry Beasley stops by the temple with Sullivan a lot too… and Pat Dye has a rather nice hunting & fishing lodge somewhere on the property.
At best: Cecil Newton had a moment of weakness, made a mistake, and did everything in his power to make sure his son wasn’t punished for something he had no control over
At worst: Cecil Newton is a money hungry piece of garbage and Cam would do well sign a fat contract in the NFL and distance himself
The truth probably lies somewhere in b/w, but I’d lean towards the bad side at the moment.
Great work as always, Jerry. War Damn
Cuban Eagle says
Awesome bit…you basically pointed out the majority of what I’ve thought and said.
I find it funny that some out there seem to be certain they know that Cecil gave the money to his brother’s trucking company in Michigan or some hogwash – clearly knowing more than SEC, NCAA and FBI. Maybe these organizations need to interview more rival site message board dwellers.
Everybody seems to automatically assume that Cecil Newton “shopped” his kid for cash. Given his past situation, I find that highly unlikely. I think it is far more likely that the following scenario is closest to the truth:
Cecil: It’s going to take more than just Dan Mullen, more than just a scholarship to get my kid to come to MSU.
Kenny Rogers: You like $$$?
Kenny: Let me call and see what I can do, wait right here.
[phone call made; eventually rebuffed.]
[Given a day or two to think about it, Cecil realizes MSU is bad juju. He tells Cam he can’t go there, despite his love for Dan Mullen. Cam is sad, makes the call that everybody assumes means AU paid him more than MSU offered, but really it means: THEY REALIZED WHAT THAT OFFER MEANT, i.e., INELIGIBILITY. And so to AU he came.]
Would the guy who’d seen his kid implode at UF then try to shop him somewhere else for cash? Maybe. But given what we know I just don’t buy it (pun intended).
I will note that the above scenario comports with what Cecil has allegedly admitted to, that he HAD DISCUSSIONS ABOUT MONEY … not necessarily that he requested payment, but that it was discussed in his presence. Is there something morally reprehensible about merely listening to some jerk talk about paying you for your kid to come to his school? I don’t think so. If this scenario were proved to be accurate, then maybe Cecil ought to be praised for realizing what a mess going to MSU would have been for his kid. By their own account, it was Cecil’s decision that AU should be the place to go.
I am an Auburn alum. My Auburn family legacy goes back to the 1880’s. My $.02 worth –
(a) Auburn University does NOT, and will NEVER have my permission to cheat in athletics in my name. NOT EVER. No school can control rogue boosters… and there is always that risk at every school. But – if Auburn University is ever a party to corruption EVER again (a la Pat Dye), I will personally lead the charge to burn the Auburn Athletic Department to the ground – NOT ONE STONE LYING ON TOP OF ANY OTHER. (I will also be the one that lovingly places the first foundation brick during the ensuing rebuilding project.)
(b) If Cecil Newton did in fact solicit payment from MSU, he may have committed one or more crimes. If that’s true, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to see him do some hard time. I say screw all of the crooked bastards hanging around college athletic programs – yours, ours, theirs, all of them. I say let’em dodge the 350 pound monsters in the state prisons for ten years.
(c) I’m not holding out for a vindication for Cecil Newton – I just want the HEAR Cecil Newton say the words, damn it; I’m sick of spokespersons, reporters, lawyers, and 3rd party references. I’d also like to hear an authentic apology for the damage done to Auburn University.
(d) It’s time for everyone involved to man up – including the MSU coaches, Coach Mullen’s wife, the leakers, the press – everyone. SPILL IT ALL – NOW! All of the facts out in the open. No more dripping sensational details one by one. I want the complete anthology. (I know – it’ll never happen.)
(e) No matter what the truth is, it’s going to be an awkward Christmas at the Newton house this year.
Jerry..I know you’ve got a new baby to tend to, and a fancy new job at CBS, but where the hell have you been? Come on man, you’ve got to find that “inner Fairley” and man up!
We (loyal WBE readers) are counting on you!
PS….Glad to have you back HERE….for a while, anyway..(:
I have to agree – you gotta love P. Marshall. He’s the only person I listened to through this. Except TWER, of course. And, if I hear one more backwoods, toothless, mullett wearing caller on the radio use the word “bylaw” I might just lose it.
Foy Onion says
“Auburn and the NCAA will be saying the tomato that matters, so say tomahto all you want. ”
This! This is why we miss your daily thoughts on all things Auburn, Jerry! Thank you!
B_m, I’ve been conjecturing just such a conversation between Cecil and Kenny as well. MSU needs to be very worried by the appearance that Cecil would have received the money had Cam signed a LOI with the Bulldogs. The NCAA might kick over a few ant beds there.
I happen to agree with the scenario beer_motor gives….I’ve thought all along the “alledged” phone call from Cam to MSU regarding “the money was too much” meant the following: “the whole money issue was over the top, not a program we want to be involved in; we’re going a different direction that doesn’t involved that kind of garbage……”
I know, I know – orange and blue glasses….it truly hurts my heart to think of any other scenario. Be that as it may, I’m also in total agreement with More.Sawdust. I will join you in the charge if AU is found guilty of any violation. That is NOT what we’re about! I wish the greedy, rich guys would stay out of it and keep the sport clean for us average-joe fans that love our alma maters so much.
It will be interesting to see what plays out with the upcoming coaching changes. I have heard the rumor for over a month now that Urban Meyer will retire and Dan Mullen is already set to take his place…..???
I don’t think the phone calls as reported by Schad (“money was too much”) took place. I just don’t. Because no way this turns out this way if they had. I also agree with what Jerry says here:
“OK, lastly, we’ll need to remember: this isn’t over yet. It’s not as not over as many would have us believe. But as long as the NCAA is still poking around Cecil Newton’s financial past, as long as the Mississippi Sec. of State is talking to Rogers and Bell, as long as the FBI is still out there lurking like some X-Files villain, there remains the distinct possibility there’s some new landmine yet to be uncovered that could blow everything to hell.”
But I feel a hell of a lot better today then I did three weeks ago. A hell. Of. A. Lot. Better.
The part that I’ve been worried about IS over: I haven’t been all that concerned that Cecil took money from us. I’ve been terrified that the NCAA would declare Cam ineligible over a technicality in some obscure NCAA bylaw. THANK YOU FOR CLEARING THIS UP, NCAA!!! Cam Newton 1, Haters 0. Reality 1, Perception 0. Sweet.
Oh, and about the link to the Cam article: I also read the writeups for the other candidates. First of all, Jerry is a much better writer than the rest of the guys. Secondly, all the supporters of the other candidates feel the need to compare their guy to Cam…Who does Jerry compare Cam to? A living legend in Bo Jackson. So that’s the difference. A group of people who try to stack up their respective candidates against Cam vs. the reality that Cam isn’t just the best player this year, but an all time great.
Thx for the kind words, guys. And Jbird, I’m going to do my best. It’s the transitional stuff that’s worst; the longer I balance all the things I’m dealing with, the better I ought to get at it. I think.
As for Cecil, I’ll just be honest: I think he’s scum. But I don’t _think_ he’s on the take, for the reasons described above.
The thing that bother me mostly is the “at this time” phrase that many are latching on to. With the infomration available at this time, every player on the team is eligible. And the same goes for all plyers on all other teams. Unless something comes up, everyone eligible. No one has uncondional eligibility. Why is this so hard for some folks to grasp?
@JA – RIGHT!!! The “at this time” thing applies to all schools ALL THE TIME.
Aubie's Denial says
“I did not have financial relations with that quarterback, Mr. Newton. Nor with his father, the good Rev. Newton. Now I’m going back to the barn, and back to work for the aubarn people.”
Bill Barrow says
Aubie’s Denial: I believe you fall under Jerry’s category of “Shut the Hell Up.” Have a nice day. Well, not really.
Well done, Jerry, Well said, More.Sawdust.
For your entertainment:
Aubie's Denail says
Truth hurts doesn’t it Bill . . . there’s a reason EVERYONE except Auburn fans is pulling for the Cocks today. Spurrier may be the Evil Genius, but, he plays fair, and with integrity. Unlike Unfairly, Scam, and Coach “win at any cost” Chizik. Have a nice day as well.
Frank Drackman says
I thought they killed Child Molestors in prison….
And you homos pull fot the Cocks EVERY day, y’all just
I mean Cocks, I like the Beavers myself.
And watchin the “Old Ball Coach” yesterday was just sad.
And why does everything have to be “Cocks” or “Balls” with
Oh yeah, your Homos..
Aubie's Denial says
That’s an intelligent response Frank, really bright. You might try going to church, you could stand to clean it up a bit. I hear Bishop Newton has a good one . . . you could even donate, again, to Cam’s travel and lawyer fund. The whole nation, including the SEC, is pulling for the Ducks now. Nobody likes a cheater! The saddest part of this SMU like saga is that the guys who played with and for Cam are going to have their effort wasted because of the actions of the Newtons, Coach Cheestick, and the AU AD. Good riddance!
Aubie's Denial says
An interesting read from SI
Aubie Denial (aka Lt. Comm. Galloway):
It doesn’t matter what you believe, it only matters what you can prove but you go ahead and contine to strenously object.! Call the NCAA/SEC and request they move to reconsider.
Pull for the ducks. We Auburn fans wouldn’t want it any other way.
Pony Express says
ESPN is airing a documentary on SMU at 9 Saturday, right after Cammie gets his trophy. Coincidence? Maybe you should watch it brooksie, you’ll see what the Plains might look like in a couple of years. War Scam Eagle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Look, there’s no point in trying to educate/convince/persuade the iggerent bammers of facts when it comes to ANYTHING Auburn. You can’t do it. It can’t be done. Not you, not me, not anyone, ‘cept maybe Nick Saban – and he ain’t saying shit good about Auburn, no matter what the truth is.
So just enjoy their antics with me: laugh at their ignorance of the facts, smile at their frozen agenda, relish the record of the last ten years/20 years/30-whatever-they-want period and rest secure in the truth that – we’re Auburn and they (thank God) are not. That’s what is really important, and the best thing is, they’ll never ever get that.