Monday, November 15, 2010

Columnist: Cam Newton will be declared ineligible

image With everyone lawyering up and clamming up, news about the Thousand Paper Cut Soap Opera that has become the Cameron Newton affair at Auburn has become a series of blog posts and online staff reports citing “sources close to… .”

Something might shake loose later this week, as folks begin to speculate about the contents of the conversation(s) federal investigators will have tomorrow with Mr. Bond (and possibly others). There could be some squirming and someone trying to get back out in front of things.

Trust me folks…  If the Department of Justice really wants to make someone like Martha Stewart do time, they’ll find whatever witnesses and evidence they need to do so.

Because of that, no one wants to get fingered as the fall guy so anyone with enough junk in their trunk to take the fall for the others might turn "state's evidence," so to speak. Wednesday and Thursday might be interesting. But after that, I don't expect to hear a whole lot for a while.

But occasionally, we’ll see opinion columns like the one Clay Travis has penned for NCAA Fanhouse today.

Let's get this out of the way early,: Cam Newton is going to be ruled ineligible to play college football at some point. That ruling will mean that every game he participated would not count as an Auburn victory. This isn't a question of if, it's a question of when.

It might take 10 days, it might take two years, but the ineligibility ruling is coming. No reasonable person can believe that Cecil Newton, Sr. didn't solicit funds from Mississippi State for his son to play football there. (Note, I'm not even considering whether Auburn paid anything for Cam's services. Even if the NCAA can never prove that -- which it may one day be able to prove as well -- there is no doubt that the Newton family's actions in relation to Cam's recruitment to Mississippi State are sufficient enough to rule him ineligible under NCAA rules).

In the meantime Auburn fans can continue to bury their heads in the sand and blame everyone but the Newton family for the plague of Biblical proportions that is about to rain down on their football program. No one else has any blame here. Not the media reports that have been accurate, not the rival school that turned you in for playing an ineligible player, not anyone else. You can blame shift all you want, but ultimately your rationales are going to fail.

That's the central takeaway from this column -- Newton's ineligibility -- but this story is so big and the tentacles are so far-reaching that it extends well beyond Cam Newton. That's why we're doing the unbelievable, eschewing all other football that took place on Saturday and devoting the entirety of the Starting 11 to the Newton imbroglio.

We're going to hit you upside the head with the most pertinent perspective that isn't anywhere else on the Internet, television or radio. Let's roll.

Go read Travis’ whole post. He provides the relevant part of the NCAA statute that so many Cambots have whistled right past in their parsing and nit-picking of the voluminous NCAA rulebook.

But most importantly, he absolutely destroys the narrative that because someone merely talked about / solicited / suggested pay for play, Newton is fine.  That is just so much more parsing and nit-picking.  People think that because the NCAA has a voluminous rulebook, they have to play by it.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is false.  In the the eyes of the NCAA, you have to play by the rulebook.

The NCAA plays by its own.

That means If the NCAA wants one rule to apply while not the others, so be it. If the NCAA wants one rule to not apply while applying any of the others, so be it. If the NCAA wants none of the rules or precedents to apply while inflicting a long, excruciatingly painful investigation and hearings process, they just do.

Then, they hammer you.

Travis’ column says the hammerin’ is a’comin and there’s not a whole lot Auburn can do about it, given the time frame and stakes involved. It also says that Auburn is apparently “all in” with the guy.  They’ve looked at their options, which are:

  1. Sit him, and deal with the consequences of having to vacate every win he’s played in to date while likely losing to Alabama and/or South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game thus losing a shot at the BCS National Championship, or
  2. Play him and deal with the consequences of having to eventually vacate every win he’s played in to date while having a shot at beating Alabama; South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game and whoever shows up in Glendale and rolling the dice on the “Cam didn’t know so it’s Ok” defense during the long, arduous and painful NCAA investigation process.

Auburn is going with Option #2. Travis says that defense will fail and I agree.

A third option, which existed up until Newton took the field against Georgia last Saturday, was to sit Newton, hire the best private investigators money can buy, and have them find every bit of evidence they could that cleared Newton before the Iron Bowl.  Losing to Georgia or winning a close game in such a big rivalry would have hurt, but not destroyed, their chances at the BCS National Championship if they beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa and went on to win the SEC Championship Game.  That option was never exercised, so now Auburn University is playing the hand they’ve been dealt.

And they’re all in.