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Newton Fall-Out Continues…

Last week, I was receiving kudos from Auburn fans because we at MrSEC.com had remained “objective” in our coverage of the Cam Newton.  Specifically, I personally had written that despite everyone’s suspicions and suppositions there had been no proof whatsoever that Auburn had done anything wrong in its recruitment of Newton.

I was hailed as a true Journalist!  Capital J, baby.

Well, yesterday, I quickly scanned the NCAA’s statement on Newton and posted what amounted to a quick “Thank God this mess is over” piece.  But then I finished up a couple of radio/TV hits and re-read the NCAA’s release.  And then I re-read it again.

At that point I posted two facts:

1.  The investigation isn’t over, after all.

2.  The NCAA has set a bizarre precedent with its ruling.

Predictably, Auburn fans then emailed to say that I was mad things didn’t turn out the way I’d wanted.  That I’d been against Newton all along.  That I’m not a reporter… I’m a sleazy “blog guy.”

So to be fair and objective one must come down on the same team’s side every time on every issue? 

I write this only to point out one thing: If you’re looking for a homer website, look elsewhere.  At MrSEC.com, this football season we’ve pulled for and against every single team in the conference.  Our job is to cover these teams.  We like upsets, we like feel-good stories, we like heroes.  So we really don’t care — we can’t care — who wins the SEC. 

If you want a site that’s going to be 100% pro- or 100% anti- a certain SEC squad, buy a Rivals.com subscription and suckle at the teat of your own institution.  We just give you facts and objective opinions.

And Auburn fans, sometimes that means we have to state facts like these: This investigation isn’t over and the NCAA set a bizarre precedent.

Now the Newton fall-out from across the web…


1.  ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski writes that the NCAA has exposed a loophole in its rulebook.

2.  SI.com’s Stewart Mandel says the NCAA has set a new precedent.  (Damn all these anti-Auburn people!)

3.  SI.com’s Andy Staples says the NCAA’s ruling was sound… but a loophole now exists.

4.  Southern Cal — like a lot of schools — has to be wondering why Newton and Auburn got the benefit of the doubt while they themselves did not.

5.  Kalani Simpson of FoxSports.com says that the NCAA simply decided not to cancel Auburn’s party.

6.  Dave Curtis of The Sporting News says that Newton’s eligible, but the case isn’t closed.  (The nerve of these hacks.  Not a journalist in the lot!)

7.  Tony Barnhart of The AJC writes that the NCAA got it right in the Newton case.

8.  The website SportsByBrooks writes that Damon Stoudamire’s situation at Arizona in 1995 was very similar to that of Newton… but the NCAA suspended Stoudamire for a game.

9.  Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News believes the NCAA’s ruling exposes a loophole.  (Stop me if you’ve heard this…)

10.  Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News says Auburn and the NCAA got things right.

11.  Gene Chizik said yesterday that he’s “glad to get all that behind us.”


And we here at MrSEC still have a few views (and questions) to share about the Newton ruling, too:


1.  This ruling and it’s timing are great for the SEC.  Yesterday’s release by the NCAA basically clears Newton for Saturday and lifts a mighty big cloud from over the Georgia Dome.  The story leading up to the SEC Championship Game won’t be “Will Newton be declared ineligible?”  Instead the story will be “Game on!”


2.  If you don’t believe Mike Slive has power, look only to the timing of this announcement.  It’s almost as if the SEC’s commissioner called the folks in Indianapolis and said, “Guys, hurry this thing up… we’ve got a pretty big game to play.”  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s his job.  Slive is employed by the SEC’s member institutions to lead the sporting side of things.  Sometimes that means he’s a traffic cop.  But it always means he’s working in the best interest of the conference’s schools.  To push for a quick Newton clearance is no different than his recent attempts to fend off a lengthy NCAA suspension by dropping eight games on Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl.


3.  Auburn fans hoping that this story will go away need to step back and ask themselves what they would be saying if this same situation had played out at Alabama.  They’d be kicking and screaming and crying and yelping that the SEC and the NCAA were lookin’ out for Bama.  So please save us the “Why won’t you let it end?” comments.  The NCAA’s investigation is continuing.


4.  Fans of other SEC schools who can’t believe the NCAA’s ruling — and that includes you Alabama fans who are furious today — cool it.  If you’d like for some NCAA investigators to start snooping around your campus, just raise your hands.  Yeah.  I didn’t think so.  You want “justice” like William Wallace wanted “Freedddoommmmm!!!!’”  I know.  But if you were in an Auburn fan’s shoes, you’d be grumbling about a press that’s out to get ya, too.


5.  Personally, I wish the NCAA had been able to wrap everything up yesterday.  I’m tired of the name “Cam Newton.”  I find myself typing it over and over like Jack Torrance at the Overlook Hotel.  No one would have been happier to see the NCAA come out with definitive “nothing happened, move along” statement.  Unfortunately, it did not.


6.  If Newton didn’t know what his father was doing, then I am glad that the young man wasn’t declared ineligible moving forward.  However, didn’t Joe Schad of ESPN report that a source told him that Newton phoned a “recruiter” for Mississippi State and told him that “the money was too much” elsewhere for him to go to MSU?  Who was that source?  Perhaps Schad ran with bad information, but that tidbit has been forgotten.  Joe, you got anything to say about that one?


7.  For Newton’s sake — as I said — I’m glad he wasn’t ruled ineligible.  He’s the best player I’ve ever seen at quarterback and he’s handled this mess with incredible composure and focus.  But for the sake of college athletics, I think the NCAA should have taken some action to discourage parents and guardians from asking for money.  The Damon Stoudamire ruling would have been sufficient.  Newton should’ve been retroactively suspended for the Arkansas State game.  AU should have been made to forfeit that game.  With that ruling, Auburn would still be in the SEC Championship Game and it would be up to BCS voters to decide how much to penalize what would be a 1-loss Auburn squad for a forfeited game against Arkansas State.  That would have sent a message to other people to not ask for cash.  You know, as the rulebook states.


8.  Tony Barnhart contacted the SEC office to determine why the following league bylaw does not render Newton ineligible.


“If at any time before or after matriculation in a member institution a student-athlete or any member of his/her family receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or assistance beyond or in addition to that permitted by the Bylaws of this Conference (except such aid or assistance as such student-athlete may receive from those persons on whom the student is naturally or legally dependent for support), such student-athlete shall be ineligible for competition in any intercollegiate sport within the Conference for the remainder of his/her college career.”


The response?  The Newtons did ask for money but they did not necessarily agree to take money if it had been offered.

We’ll pause for Auburn fans to cheer.  And for everyone else on earth to roll their eyes.

No, from what we know, Cecil Newton did not agree to take $100,000 to $180,000 dollars.  He only asked for it.  And if MSU boosters had forked over a check I guess we’re supposed to believe Newton would have said:

a)  I’ve had a change of heart, no thanks.

b)  Fellas, I was just joshing around.  I didn’t mean I really wanted that cash.

c)  No, no.  I wanted the money in Swedish Kronors. 

Auburn fans, I only ask you if you’d be okay with that ruling if Mark Ingram were the player in question and not a Tiger. 

I understand the ruling, but I think it’s fishy at best. 

Finally, both Clay Travis of Fanhouse.com and SportsByBrooks.com have tackled the legal side of this thing. 

Travis spoke with Slive. 

SportsByBrooks looks as the legal definition of criminal solicitation.


 




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