The last week has brought to light many skeletons in the closet of Auburn QB and Heisman frontrunner Cam Newton. It is alleged that Kenny Rogers, a former Mississippi State player who works with sports agents, was acting as an intermediary between the school and Cam Newton during the recruiting process last fall. According to Rogers, Cecil Newton father of Cam, was trying to solicit money from Mississippi State to secure the signing of his son. Since the story originally broke, reports have emerged of Cam Newton's problems while at Florida (where he originally played), and more claims have been made concerning the Mississippi State events.
In 2006 Cam Newton was a highly touted recruit out of Westlake High School in Atlanta, Ga. The 6'5, 220lb Newton was given a four star rating and was regarded as the 14th best QB in the nation according to scout.com. He was heavily recruited and offered by Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, Miss St, and Oklahoma. On September 7, 2006 Cam Newton verbally committed to play football for Urban Meyer and the University of Florida Gators.
As a freshman in 2007, Newton earned the backup spot behind eventual Heisman winner Tim Tebow. Early in his sophomore season Cam suffered an ankle injury and elected to take a medical redshirt. Then, on November 21, 2008 Newton was arrested on multiple charges including felony burglary connected to the purchase of a stolen laptop. He was also apparently caught cheating three times, including using another person's work as his own without their knowledge. After being suspended from the team and reinstated, Cam found himself again the backup to Tebow who would return for his senior season. At that time Cam Newton, and his father Cecil Newton, made the decision that it would be in Cam's best interest to transfer from the University of Florida.
In January 2009, Newton landed at Blinn Community College in Brenham, TX. He was a star and led his team to the 2009 NJCAA National Chamionship solidifying his spot as the best QB prospect in the nation. Let the games begin.
Mississippi State and Auburn, among others, were heavy hitters in the recruiting of Newton at this time. Somewhere along the way Cam and Cecil Newton came into contact with Kenny Rogers. It is alleged that Rogers approached people involved with Mississippi State regarding the recruitment of Newton. Reportedly, Rogers was asking for a six figure payment from MSU in order to secure Newton's signature on a national letter of intent. Rogers claims that Cecil Newton made statements as to "it's not gonna be free this time", and that it would cost "anywhere between $100,000 and $180,000" to get Cam to play.
According to reports, Mississippi State reported what had happened to the Southeastern Conference where an apparent investigation was launched. However, is was somewhat stalled due to a lack of information from Mississippi State. The school claimed it was tied up with "time consuming eligibility issues involving non-football issues in the winter and spring". Cam Newton eventually signed with the University of Auburn and the reports were sort of lost in translation.
This year Newton has led the Auburn Tigers to a 10-0 record, and a no. 2 ranking in the BCS standings. He has put himself way out in front of the competition for the Heisman, and the Tigers are in great position to play for the national championship. Although the NCAA has an ongoing investigation into any wrongdoing that may have occurred during Newton's recruitment, it is likely to take months before the whole truth is uncovered. That's plenty of time for the Heisman and national champion to be determined.
NCAA rules state that "a student-athlete shall lose his or her amateur status and shall not be eligible for intercollegiate competition in a particular sport if: The student-athlete or family member accepts or receives extra benefits from an agent or anyone who wishes to represent the student-athlete, The student-athlete uses his or her athletic skills for promise of pay". I think it's very apparent, if the claims are true, that Cam Newton has violated NCAA rules and has forfeited his eligibility to compete at the collegiate level.
As everyone knows the mockery called the BCS is in the driver's seat of college football. In the end, the national championship game shall pit the teams that finish no. 1 and no. 2 in the final BCS standings. This year is such a great year for us small guys in that both TCU, and Boise St. have made the strongest claims for a shot at the title as any mid-major has made in a long time.
Even with those strong efforts, both will likely fall short of no. 1 or no. 2 should the current top two (Oregon and Auburn) complete their undefeated seasons. However, if Cam Newton was found to have broken NCAA rules and was declared ineligible Auburn would almost certainly fall from its perch opening up a spot for TCU or Boise to move in. Unfortunately, as stated before, it is expected that no conclusions will be drawn on the matter until after season's end.
Another issue is the matter of Heisman. A lot of talk by Heisman voters has surfaced in the media. At this point is seems unanimous that without any kind of concrete proof voters will not take the stories into consideration when placing their votes for the Heisman winner. Again, being the frontrunner Cam Newton will likely win the award. Possibly bringing up another Reggie Bush type issue later in the future.
Cam Newton being eligible to win the Heisman also hampers both Kellen Moore, the Boise St QB, and Andy Dalton, the TCU QB in the trophy race. Both QBs are considered in the running to win the Heisman. Moore or Dalton could be the first Heisman winner from a mid-major school since Andre Ware of Houston in 1989.
In my opinion, Cam Newton has established himself as the best player in college football. He has been a critical piece of arguably the best team in the nation. If it is found that he has done nothing wrong then he most certainly should win the Heisman trophy, and should be able to play for the national championship. However if he has violated NCAA rules, there are repercussions. If he is found to have committed the alleged actions he should be immediately declared ineligible from playing college football, and should not be given the opportunity to win a national championship and/or the Heisman trophy. It would be a shame to deny others, who have done things the right way, the opportunity to realize such achievements. We'll see what happens, but it'll probably take time to sort this one out one way or the other.