The star quarterback – and Heisman Trophy candidate – has been accused of potentially taking money to choose that school, there is a report that he cheated on tests while at another university and the program has caught the attention of NCAA investigators.
When other schools have had even the slightest hint of controversy – see Georgia with A.J. Green, most notably North Carolina, and even that “other school” to the north – each has sat down the player(s) in question until the situation has been resolved.
So why does Auburn continue to play Cam Newton?
The answer is remarkable simple: Unlike those other schools, Auburn is willing to sacrifice its future for one good year.
Why? Because Auburn figures it has nothing to lose, really. It’s history shows it experiences great success only occasionally, and since it was in danger of falling even further behind its hated in-state rival, it was willing to take a chance. If it can surpass that “other school” up north, even for a year, then whatever consequences come of the situation make it all well worth it.
There were questions about Newton going into the season (and, as we are learning, back to last January). That’s the same time that North Carolina suspended 13 players for its opener against LSU “for violating school and/or NCAA rules” the school stated.
If Auburn wins big – perhaps, even, a national championship – and it all collapses, Auburn fans and boosters will always point to 2010. Much as they still do to 2004. After all, Auburn’s only national title, won in 1957, came when the Tigers were on probation.
North Carolina, Georgia and that “other school” to the north were all ready to sacrifice the present for the future, because they figure to be factors on the national landscape for the next several years. Especially that “other school” to the north. Auburn feels the annual pressure from not only up north but also from LSU and, to a lesser degree, Arkansas. An SEC Championship is elusive enough to achieve for the Tigers, let alone BCS consideration.
That’s why Auburn is such a tough place to play for visiting teams. The fans get excited about the smallest things, cheer like mad, and suddenly the other team gets the yips and fumbles, throws an interception, misses field goals or extra points or has a punt blocked. By all rights, Auburn should have lost to South Carolina and most certainly to Clemson, but won both because those teams collapsed under the pressure of those fans and their wildly shaking blue-and-orange pom-poms.
Are the allegations surrounding Newton true? Well, in the sports world, where there’s smoke there’s not only fire, but fire the size of a California wildfire. And each day, it seems, there is more added to the story. At the very least we do know Newton’s character should come into question, for he was charged with stealing a laptop computer – and then throwing it out the window before being confronted – while at Florida.
Fox Sports also reported that while at Florida, Newton cheated three times on tests, once turning in another student’s work without that student’s knowledge.
Now, while being recruited at Mississippi State, Newton’s father Cecil – does this make him Scam Newton!? – apparently said it would take “more than a scholarship” to sign his son. Then allegedly, a teary Newton called Mississippi State and said he was going to Auburn because “the money was too much.”
All this, of course, has that “other school” to the north rolling around laughing in the tide. Whenever Auburn does something right – that is, to have a Heisman candidate and be within sight of a national title – those crimson-clad fans can say it still manages to do something wrong.
It’s also worth nothing that the source of this uproar is none other than John Bond. It was Bond who was under center for “6-3,” Mississippi State’s monumental upset of Bear Bryant’s #1 Alabama team in 1980. For years, the mere mention of Bond’s name brought shivers to Bama fans. Now, however, it’s welcomed with laughs and high-fives.
The real test of whether or not this Newton gamble was worth it will be if Auburn can beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl on Nov. 26. If not, then at least the Tigers have had a fall to remember.