Monday, November 15, 2010

Washington Post Column-- Tale of two Auburns isn't the only story out there

Here is today's column for the Washington Post --------

The drama that has played out on and off the college football field in Auburn, Ala., this season is worthy of Charles Dickens.

Auburn, picked to be a reasonably good team but nothing more prior to the season, is 11-0, ranked No. 2 in the country and on the doorstep of playing for the national championship. The Tigers have been led by quarterback Cam Newton, who left Florida two years ago, played a year of junior college ball, and has emerged to become the overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

But in the past two weeks, there have been accusations that Newton and his father sought payoffs during his recruitment a year ago and reports that Newton was found guilty of cheating academically while at Florida. Every day, it seems, brings a new revelation of some kind.

The best of times and the worst of times indeed.

Auburn Coach Gene Chizik reacted with outrage initially but has gone the "I only want to talk about football" route since. Newton has said nothing and wasn't even allowed to speak to the media after Auburn's win over Georgia on Saturday. That's right: After leading his team to 49 points to clinch a spot in the SEC title game, the best player in the country was kept from speaking publicly.

Click here for the rest of the column: Tale of two Auburns isn't the only story out there


HenryFTP said...

It's really hard not to be morbidly fascinated by the Cameron Newton soap opera -- it's better than Dickens, it's into Thomas Hardy or Theodore Dreiser territory.

The insufferably pompous NCAA has magnified this tale beyond morality play. The NCAA tells us that Auburn, which may very well have done nothing untoward in recruiting Newton, nonetheless has to make a determination as to his eligibility based on whether Newton's father, or even some other person deemed to be acting on his behalf, asked Mississippi State or any other college for money. Even though the NCAA has known about these allegations since July, the onus is entirely on Auburn. And if this all goes terribly wrong, we all know that the kid and his father will get most of the blame.

I'm not suggesting that we "legalize" under-the-table payments to college athletes, but the punishments should bear some reasonable relationship to the "crimes". As sordid as the whole Reggie Bush affair was, I still think it's absurd that Southern Cal's achievements while he played there are somehow "tainted" -- he wasn't being paid by the university, but rather was cashing in individually on his expected future income as a professional player. Even more absurd is the collective willingness to turn a mostly blind eye to a player's status as an actual student at a university but be overcome by the vapors if he's seen (particularly if he's African American) driving a nice car.

But maybe there's some method to this madness -- if college football wasn't this bizarre and quintessentially American mix of puritanism, materialism and hucksterism, would it captivate us nearly so much?

Anonymous said...

What about Northwestern game on Nov. 13? A spectacular, thrilling win over Iowa in the last seconds of a hard-fought game; NU now bowl eligible too (even if at a "lower level") GREAT football!

Anonymous said...

The NCAA and SEC owe it to every other team to resolve this with a decision this week. If true, then Auburn should forfiet every gamem LSU should be going to the SEC Championship Game, maybe even back in the BCS race, and other teams in the BCS race will have a level playing field.