Monday, November 15, 2010

Cam Newton: To be (eligible) or not to be (eligible) by Kevin Probst

Those who have seen Cam Newton play this year all agree, he is a superstar. I only live 30 miles from Auburn and I’ll confess, I hardly paid any attention to him until about midway through the season. What is it with these preacher’s kids, from Tebow to Newton, they sure play good football.

No person in their right mind could possibly think that Cam’s father, the Reverend Newton, could solicit money from certain schools for the privilege of having his son as their quarterback without Cam having knowledge that such a solicitation took place. Of course he knew.

Why would the Reverend ask money from Mississippi State and not from Auburn University? Did Cecil Newton realize his mistake and choose to go another direction with a clean slate or did an Auburn booster find his offer reasonable? Not knowing one way or the other won’t be good for college football.

Some silly things have been said about the ordeal. Those Facebookers who are declaring that he is innocent until proven guilty…Cam Newton hasn’t broken any laws. He may be ineligible but he isn’t guilty. He isn’t going to prison. He may get suspended from football, he may flee the college farm system for the NFL but he hasn’t committed a crime.

The NCAA finds itself in a dilemma. If they declare what the father did had no bearing on the son or on Auburn University they it opens a Pandora’s Box full of future difficulties. It may become just standard procedure for fathers, uncles and grandfathers to try to sell the athletic ability of their family member to the highest bidder. Setting such a precedent would be disastrous for college football.

The situation at Auburn is likely just the tip of the ice berg. Cam’s situation didn’t come to light until he found himself under tremendous scrutiny as a leading Heisman candidate and Auburn was having an undefeated season. Were the spotlight shining so brightly on other college athletes their sins might also be discovered.

Sadly, if Cam Newton is declared ineligible Auburn’s season goes up in smoke. That may be justice served for Cam and also for the university if they offered him money but it’s a travesty for all the other players who invested hundreds of hours of practice time and put their faith and trust in the university when they signed on the dotted line. They are innocents and they don’t deserve to be punished for the poor judgment of a father and his son.

Enter Tony Dorsett, one of my favorite football players of all time. Dorsett called this a “modern day lynching”. Ridiculous! Had Tebow’s father asked for money you had better believe the press would have been all over it and Florida would have been in the same boat with Auburn. Race has nothing to do with this story and any person that insists on injecting race into the story must certainly have a racist agenda of his own.

No one would envy the decision that must be made by the SEC commissioner, Mike Slive. But most are going to question whether that decision was made based on what is best for the integrity of the game or will that decision be based on what is best for the prosperity of the game? If the decision isn’t made before the SEC championship game the championship could become a farce several months down the road when the ‘champion’ is declared ineligible. There will be one SEC team who will have to live with the question “what might have been” had the decision of eligibility been decided earlier.

What if Auburn goes on to win the National Championship? In one fell swoop, Auburn might go from top to bottom, from 14-0 to 0-14. Auburn will be embarrassed, the SEC will be embarrassed and all of college football will have to put an asterisk beside the 2010 season.

In order to avoid such embarrassment and avoid confusion and chaos of an imposter champion….I think Cam’s eligibility might be in danger.

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

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