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Cam Newton Ruling Raises More Questions Than Answers

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So we can all agree now that Cecil Newton tried to shop his son with help from Kenny Rogers, right?

Right. Both the NCAA and Auburn agree on that. Mississippi State made the allegations that started this whole ordeal, so all the parties say it did happen.

But Cam Newton and Auburn didn't know?

That's the story and they're sticking to it. No evidence other than hearsay has been offered up that either knew about Cecil's MSU shakedown.

But a violation did occur. What are the penalties for it?

Mississippi State disassociated Rogers from itself. Auburn "has limited the access Newton's father has to the athletics program."

That's it?

That's it.

Wait. This was Cecil Newton's idea. The mastermind got a weaker penalty than the accomplice?

Yes. Yes he did.

In what world does that make sense?

Didn't you read the post's headline? I've got more questions than answers here.

This was awfully convenient timing, wasn't it?

Sure was, but the NCAA can work quickly sometimes. The case surrounding Dillon Baxter's improper golf cart ride took less than a week from start to finish.

Is this a conspiracy by the NCAA to make sure Auburn makes the national title game and/or TCU doesn't?

No. The NCAA makes no money off of the BCS, as it's not a party to any of the contracts. It doesn't even recognize a champion in I-A football. NCAA member institutions are a part of those contracts (directly in Notre Dame's case; indirectly for everyone else through their conferences), but they're roughly split evenly between AQ and non-AQ schools. And that's just in I-A football; think about how many more schools there are across all divisions.

Everyone gets an equal vote with the NCAA, and if it was found to be engineering a result like this for the benefit of one school and one conference, heads would roll. Is it worth it for staffers to risk their employment in a crappy job market to give Auburn a sweetheart deal for the sake of an event that the NCAA doesn't profit from? Didn't think so.

So why did it happen now?

The simplest answer is that the NCAA wanted to clear up the eligibility issue before the season was over. I doubt that's all there is to it.

You suspect back room dealings then?

Yes. Auburn clammed up right after the Newtons met with the NCAA two weeks ago, and Mike Slive has been MIA for longer than that. It's in the SEC's best interest to clear up the eligibility issue before this weekend's championship game for BCS purposes and so that it doesn't have to go through the embarrassment of stripping the conference crown. It's in Auburn's best interest to get it cleared up for the same reason.

Besides, look at how it went down. Auburn and the NCAA agreed on a set of facts on Monday. On Tuesday, Auburn declared Cam Newton ineligible and Mississippi State sent its letter disassociating Kenny Rogers from its program. On Wednesday, the NCAA reinstated Newton and issued a carefully crafted statement that explained Auburn's involvement and included a quote from Slive.

That's way too neat a story for it to have happened without negotiations. I mentioned on Twitter yesterday that it reminds me of the banking crisis in 2008, when the FDIC would announce on Monday morning that a bank was failing or had failed and it had been acquired by another bank. The press release would make it sound like it followed an orderly process, but then a couple days later we'd find out that people stayed awake all weekend haggling and hammering details out.

Is the SEC trying to preserve BCS payout money?

Probably not. The payout for all five BCS games is identical. No one gets extra money for the national title game. Even if South Carolina wins the conference's automatic bid, someone (i.e. the Orange Bowl) is going to want one out of Auburn, Arkansas, and LSU. The SEC is pretty much locked into two BCS bids at this point. The prestige associated with a team in the national title game is in play though.

Is this over?

No. As we explained yesterday, only Cam Newton's immediate eligibility question has been answered. The NCAA's enforcement arm is still investigating.

Why did the NCAA not act in the same way it did in the _________ scandal?

Because this case is unique. Cocknfire already covered why this is different from the Albert Means case. It's not the like the Reggie Bush case because the NCAA found that both Bush and USC assistant coach Todd McNair knew about the extra benefits. This is different from Damon Stoudamire because his dad was found to have received extra benefits while no one at the moment has any evidence of Cecil Newton receiving any money. This different from A.J. Green because he received money for the jersey he stole sold. This is different from Marvin Austin and friends because they got free travel and a party thrown for them.

Noticing a trend? The difference here is that according to the story that the NCAA currently believes, Cecil Newton never got any money from anyone. As that's the case, you can't compare this to another case where someone actually received extra benefits of some kind.

Is there any plausible scenario where Cecil asked for money from Mississippi State but never asked for or got any from Auburn?

Yes. I'll give you two.

Scenario 1: Cecil is a terrible criminal.

Ever seen Office Space? Peter, Michael, and Samir had never gotten into crime before, and when they tried it, their inexperience made them pretty bad at it. The same thing might apply here. Cecil Newton, as far as I know, has no rap sheet and didn't ask for money in the recruiting of his older son Cecil Junior or when Cam went to Florida.

Bill Bell also accused Kenny Rogers of being a terrible criminal. You can read the facts of the case and come to the conclusion that Cecil and Rogers bungled their shakedown of Mississippi State by being way too obvious about it.

Perhaps after being rebuffed by Mississippi State coaches and boosters, Cecil Newton lost his nerve. He realized he didn't know what he was doing and would just stop before doing any more damage. He then made his son go to Auburn because he knew he hadn't asked for anything there.

Scenario 2: Only money could overcome Cecil's preference for Auburn.

Maybe, for whatever reason, Cecil Newton didn't like Mississippi State and/or its coaches. Maybe he had a bad experience with Mullen at Florida, he truly was concerned about the state of the MSU offensive line, or he thought it wasn't prestigious a place for his son. Whatever it was, he really didn't want Cam going there.

Mississippi State came hard after Cam, and Cam wanted to play there. Cecil then decides that he'd let Mississippi State back into the picture, but only if they'd pay him money. Only some cash could overcome his misgivings about Starkville.

When MSU wouldn't pay up, he then directed his son to Auburn. It was the only remaining spread option team in the SEC that wasn't Florida, so that's why Cam ended up there.

Do you have any ulterior motives in the way you're framing all of this?

As a UF grad, I'm obviously hoping that Florida had clean hands through everything. I'll also be rooting for Steve Spurrier on Saturday as pretty much anyone who grew up a Gator in the 1990s would. However I simply want to learn the entire truth of what happened. We may never know everything, but the puzzle is a fascinating one to piece together.

I also want to believe that Cam is innocent through all of this because I like to think that people change when they learn their lessons. Sure he left Florida under bad circumstances, but I wish no ill will on him from that.