Another Cam Newton allegation has arisen, this one involving the quarterback himself. Citing an unnamed source, Thayer Evans of FoxSports.com reports that Newton was accused of cheating while enrolled at Florida.
The same Thayer Evans, it must be noted, had already passed judgment on Newton before his latest round of reporting. Wrote Evans last week: “Listen closely, Heisman voters: Do not vote for Newton.”
I no longer vote for the Heisman Trophy. (The AJC now precludes its writers from so doing.) But if I did, I’d have no problem casting a ballot for the Westlake grad.
Because even if he did cheat at Florida — he was also arrested there on three felony counts involving a stolen laptop — he’s not at Florida anymore. (The charges were dropped after Newton completed a pretrial diversion program.) Even if former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond was approached by someone saying it would cost $180,000 to land Cam, as reported last week by ESPN.com, Newton didn’t go to Mississippi State.
He enrolled at Auburn. He plays for Auburn. Neither the school nor the NCAA has ruled him ineligible. This isn’t to say that both parties shouldn’t go back and investigate his recruitment; it’s simply to say that anyone who seriously believes a player should be forced to sit because a charge of recruiting impropriety surfaces that doesn’t involve either the player directly or his chosen school is, shall we say, naive.
(Think of it this way: Auburn plays Alabama the day after Thanksgiving. Auburn and Alabama are — stop the presses — serious rivals. What would prevent an Alabama fan from saying to some news outlet: “Know what? I offered Newton 10 zillion dollars to play for the Tide — somebody suspend that guy now!”)
Yes, naivete cuts both ways. We can be skeptical of Newton. Heck, we can be skeptical of college football writ large. (Ask Clemson fans if they ever wondered about the recruitment of the 1982 Heisman winner, a tailback from Wrightsville, Ga.) But Newton getting arrested at Florida and being accused of cheating there in no way proves there’s anything untoward about his presence at Auburn.
If something implicating Auburn does come to light, that’s a different matter. But we cannot make the Reggie Bush leap — Bush had to return his Heisman, so no future Heisman should go to someone who might have to hand it back — because, at last check, Cam Newton is not Reggie Bush. I mean, come on.