For the first eight weeks of the season Cameron Newton was everything that is wonderful about college football. He was a Heisman favorite on a nationally ranked team and his legend was growing more and more with every win. His story was inspiring because it talked about a young player making a stupid mistake and having to pay a price for it. After his junior college humbling, he earned the starting QB position for Auburn and that is where the fairy tale is supposed to end…maybe not.
For all the positive that came from Newton being at Auburn for 10 months, the ugly side of college football has once again reared its ugly head. An alleged runner for an agent, 180K-200K pay for play, allegations of cheating at Florida, alleged phone calls to anonymous sources with Newton admitting "the money was too much" at Auburn and this is in the matter of a week. The disgusting side of college athletics has turned up when so many thought Newton was a Disney movie that would end in Glendale, Arizona this January. The key word here is disgusting and that is how I feel about the entire situation. Because no matter how this story ends up…Newton and Auburn punished or both having their names cleared, the way it has been relayed to the public is disgusting.
I am disgusted with Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel and Thayer Evans of Fox Sports. Writers have power; there is no question about the power of the press and its ability to focus a large group of reader's attention to a story. The problem with these two writers is that with regards to Newton they decided they were the story and not Newton. Their self-righteous, "moral" stands about whether Newton was deserving of the Heisman trophy bordered on irresponsible writing and narcissism. No one cares who or why you vote the way you do and the question was certainly not posed to them in the stories they wrote about Newton…it was an editorial. It was mean spirited, bush league and as bad as journalism gets. There will be no reprimands for them, thank goodness for the First Amendment, but in the court of public opinion they deserve the same skepticism Newton is facing right now and they are getting it nationally.
I am disgusted with how ESPN has handled the entire story of Newton starting with the three writers who originally broke the story (Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach). They alleged a meeting between two former MSU players (John Bond and Kenny Rogers) where Rogers told Bond it would take 180K to sign Newton. The next day Bond refuted that story on an Atlanta Radio Show (we will get to that in a second) and Rogers denied ever talking to Bond. Since the three ran a story with one witness and never got another account of the story there is no way to know which one is true. Completely irresponsible to run a story with only half of the parties involved. Add in Joe Schad using two anonymous sources back in January alleging phone calls with Newton and his father hinting at pay for play and we have more smoke but no fire. All these allegations need to be verified by more than one source and more than one school but ESPN jus ran with it.
I am disgusted by John Bond who in a matter of two days last Thursday and Friday had two different stories that amount to nothing more than gossip. Even though ESPN handled this miserably, it is very unlikely they misquoted Bond when he said he talked to Rogers. So that means that either Bond lied or got caught in a nasty game of kindergarten telephone. Bond lawyered up early enough so he will not clarify which story he gave is the correct one and he now must be considered completely questionable.
I am disgusted that the only interview John Bond gave was to his good ole buddy Buck Belue of 680 The Fan in Atlanta on the Buck and Kincade Show. Now we don't expect hard charging journalistic questions from Belue but we expect him to prepare and challenge Bond a day after such inflammatory accusations were made. There were no challenges despite Bond giving the radio show a different story than what he was quoted in the ESPN column. Now that Bond is hiding behind his lawyer we won't be getting any additional clarification from Bond and Belue blew that opportunity to hammer down this witness.
I am disgusted with the Mississippi State coaching staff that talked to ESPN's Joe Schad and told him that Newton and his father allegedly hinted at money with the school. How do we know it was the coaching staff? ESPN reported that two MSU recruiters told Schad of the allegations and the only people at any program allowed to recruit are coaches. There is no reason for MSU to be leaking this information to the public, frankly it is embarrassing and will hurt the program in the long term.
I am disgusted that the University of Florida leaked out the information regarding Newton's alleged cheating while at Florida. Again, there is no point for this information to be out in the public. Never mind the fact that it is illegal to give that kind of personal information out, why are the Gators even getting involved? Urban Meyer can deny that his staff was not involved but other websites have slowly starting chipping away at those denials and it will be proven that someone involved with the Gator football team is responsible for giving that information to Evans.
I am disgusted with anonymous sources. If this information is true than stand up and come out and say it. To give this kind of witness behind the scenes, hiding behind an anonymous quote in a story is cowardly. If the NCAA or SEC said to keep quiet, keep quiet. If this stuff happened months ago, why talk about it now? Anonymous sources should be used as part of a larger story to find out the truth in association with admitted sources. If all you have is an anonymous source in a story…wait until someone actually mans up and talks about it on the record.
But most importantly if these allegations are true I will be disgusted with the Newton's. The reason I am not buying it is because Auburn keeps playing Newton. They have researched this since July and the SEC has known about it since January. No team is so stupid to play anyone without knowing the truth or at least what they view as the truth. The more people say that Auburn is playing him because they have already gone 10 games and what more do they have to lose, the more I laugh. That is total BS.
If you have a player that is ineligible and you know he is ineligible…he is going to sit. It doesn't matter they have gone this far and might as well leave him in the games. That logic is stupid and lazy…if they could prove he did some illegal he would be on the bench and maybe not in the stadium. But back to the Newton's…if these allegations are true it will be the worst story in college football history. It will bring about the same skepticism that currently exists in Major League Baseball. Any successful MLB player is assumed to be taking steroids or PED's and now every College player will be assumed dirty.
College football will start looking into every Heisman candidate to see if he had parking tickets or cheated on test in high school. We will assume the worst in every player. A guilty Cameron Newton would be ten times worse than what Reggie Bush did. It will add pessimistic eye to all players…it will taint the sport in a way we have never seen. For College Football's sake we need him to be innocent because we won't be able to overcome the family being guilty.
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me Brian Harbach
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