After two consecutive Saturday’s of decent picks, last weekend ended up a massive train wreck – going 2-5 against the spread, most of the games I picked didn’t even come close to covering. I thought UT would beat UGA and the Gators could sneak up on LSU. I believed UK would give USC a run and Auburn would hang with the Hogs. Well, that’s pretty much a NO across the board.
So to turn things around this Saturday I’m dedicating this bag of winners to none other than Cam Newton. Whether people like it or not an NCAA ruling is the only thing that matters and they have ruled: “Cam Newton is not guilty on all 180,000 counts of being paid. Case officially closed in several years.” (Can I get an AMEN from the Auburn congregation, Cecil!)
If a player on your favorite team is cleared by the NCAA, regardless of how alarming the evidence against him might be, an NCAA not guilty verdict means you’re free to cheer without fear. With the NCAA’s ruling now officially recorded on tape – you hear that John “James” Bond and Danny Sheridan – should those who enthusiastically dug Cam’s grave long ago express an ounce of remorse? I certainly do.
I’m guilty of believing every far-fetched, wild Newton Tiger tale as gospel and I’m sorry I did. Rumors, secret tapes and bag men – pieces lifted right out of the real Watergate – distracted me from fully appreciating the best season an SEC player could ever have. That last sentence should mean something if you’ve ever chanted “SEC!” after a bowl victory.
Was Cam’s dad, a man of the cloth, shopping his son around to the highest bidder incredibly shady? Yes. Was it 100% outrageously immoral? Dismount your high horse and saddle up on an infant pony if you think so. Did Cam ever take money? Sure, he probably took a few extra benefits on the side so what’s the big deal? It’s no different than the hundreds of college athletes that do the same thing every year. And if he did accept cash, I’m sure it was a figure missing several zeros that everyone so desperately wanted it to be.
When the college football lynch mob of fans lit a fire under the NCAA to take down major programs like USC, OSU, UT, UNC and Miami the NCAA felt the heat and punished accordingly. Ultimately, they managed to uncover most of the illegalities of the guilty programs/parties and justice, for the most part, was served. The eroding NCAA credibility was slowed with the temporary dismembering of these high-profile programs.
Then out of right field a Cam Newton softball was lobbed down the middle of the NCAA plate ready to be smacked like a Paul Finebaum piñata. College football fans didn’t light a fire under the NCAA on this issue; they pulled out a cannon-sized flamethrower and aimed it directly at Indianapolis. Wasn’t this the perfect storm for the NCAA? Outraged fans > Slam-dunk case > Picture perfect poster boy for punishment > Restore a shred of integrity in the process. For once the NCAA was going to run parallel with enraged college football fans across the country and react appropriately. Justice was going to be served.
Only something funny happened on the way to Jordan-Hare… the NCAA actually did its job. They conducted roughly 80 interviews and probably wrote something like a 2,983 page document about this case. The NCAA tried its hardest to “All Out” Newton, but in the end they innocently reached their destination with no gas left in the tank to go any further. Good for Newton and bad for me.
I’m disappointed because I was the biggest cheater during Newton’s epic season. Instead of marveling at his talents I spent more time hung up in the muckraking tornado. Newton was aggressively attacked week after week like no other college athlete that I can remember and yet he played through it all with a smile bigger than Ronald McDonald’s. Think about what he had to do last year and the audience he had to do it in front of. 99% of the people trashing Newton week after week would have soiled their silver britches if they had to walk half a yard in Cam’s cleats onto an opposing SEC field.
Let’s take a look at Newton’s 2010 “Things to do List.”
ü Put the entire team on my back every single play for 14 games.
ü Defeat the hated Crimson Tide.
ü Win the West.
ü Win the SEC Title.
ü Win the Heisman.
ü Win the BCS Title.
(The “things to do list” my wife leaves me every Saturday consists of things like taking out the trash, making the bed or doing something to improve the look of the front yard. Without fail I go 0-3 every time and I don’t have 100,000 people screaming at me. However, my wife often makes just as much noise.)
Seriously, who else has banged out a list like that under such pressure? Tip your damn helmet to the guy and don’t bother bringing up Mark Ingram or Tim Tebow to me. Punishment for ignoring Newton last year means I must patiently wait until the SEC Network rolls out old Cam games, and it’s a shame there aren’t more.
Two final Chik-Fil-A nuggets to leave you with…
1) I’m a Bama graduate and big fan of the Tide so don’t call me an Auburn homer. (My barely-used Bama cleats from the ‘97 season are still in my basement.)
2) What if the Cam Newton situation had happened to Tim Tebow instead? Hmmm…
These picks are for you, Cam. Keep tearing it up in Carolina.
USC -3’ @ MSU – Drugs eventually stole the career and life of one of my favorite musicians, Jerry Garcia. Outside of the drug problem Stephen Garcia had no connection to Jerry, and Sandstorm doesn’t hold a candle to The Dead, so it was long past time for Spurrier to set him free. Shaw has the Cocks humming and I expect him to keep the Cock Walk to Atlanta on course. Garcia was simply a Cock block. Roosters win and cover 28-21.
Florida -1’ @ Auburn – This group of Tigers will be a welcome relief for the Gators after seeing Bama and LSU in consecutive weeks, but putting points on the board is still an issue with QB-0 under center. If Rainey and Demps are contained the Gators struggle. Tigers beat the Gators 27-24.
UGA – 12 @ Vandy – I was down on the Dawgs after losses against Boise State and the Cocks, but they bounced back and have covered the last three weeks. After a 3-0 start someone has put a padlock on the Dores; it’s just that the lock has been applied by USC and Bama while on the road. I’m foolishly picking against the Dawgs again this weekend – probably great news for UGA fans. UGA wins 31-21 but doesn’t cover.
LSU -15’ @ UT – While I think “Honey Beaver” would be a comical improvement over the worst nickname in college football, Mathieu and his LSU defense is fun to watch. No Tyler Bray means no chance for the Vols.
Bama -24’ @ Ole Miss – Broken record section of the week. The Bama back seven is the best college football has ever had and I’ve been writing it before the first game of the season. What separates the Bama defense from the LSU defense? Bama can survive without delivering a haymaker. They line up and punch an offense in the face play after play until it blacks out and crumbles; their stats are my corner man. Bama wins and covers 35-7.
National Defensive Statistics:
#1 Rushing Defense: 39 ypg // 1.5 ypc // One rushing td allowed
#1 Scoring Defense: 7 ppg
#3 Total Defense: 191 ypg
#4 Passing Defense: 151 ypg // Four passing tds allowed
#78 Fumbles Recovered
A&M -9 vs. Baylor – RGIII is amazing and read the recent USATODAY article about him if you haven’t. A&M wins 261-255 but doesn’t cover.
Mizzou -15’ vs. Iowa State – The third set of SEC Tigers win and cover 33-3.
Bye -16’ @ UK – Bye wins 3-0 in triple overtime but doesn’t cover.
Arkansas -400’ vs. Bye – Hogs cover and take the victory formation before the first quarter is over.
I’m giving you NINE winners this week!?
*Southern Comfort is rolling out a Fiery Pepper brand so be sure and take it to your tailgate next week. You can thank me later.
Tyler Beam works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company. A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written.