Following Oregon’s and Auburn’s victories Saturday, the BCS National Championship Game has been set between the Ducks and the Tigers.
The Horned Frogs were left smelling roses as they prepare to face the Wisconsin Badgers in “The Granddaddy of Them All”: the Rose Bowl. But the Horned Frog faithful are left to wonder what might have been if the recent NCAA ruling on Auburn quarterback Cam Newton’s eligibility had gone the other way.
I don’t question Newton’s on-field talent ÃÂ8212; he will win the Heisman Trophy by a significant margin. I question, however, the process that brought him to Auburn and the manner in which the NCAA ruled on the situation.
Speculation is that Newton and his father Cecil Newton, through the owner of a scouting service, allegedly tried to secure a payment 8212; estimated at about $180,000 8212; from Mississippi State to play at the university during his recruitment. This also drew speculation that Auburn also provided a payment to Cecil Newton for his son to attend Auburn, which is a major NCAA violation.
After a brief investigation by the NCAA, it ruled that Cam Newton was eligible to play the rest of the season. The NCAA found that Cam Newton was not aware of the actions of his father and the scouting service owner, who actively sought a pay-for-play scenario for Cam Newton. As part of the ruling, Auburn has limited Cecil Newton’s access to its athletics department.
The decision by the NCAA made me question the thought process of the NCAA after the Reggie Bush scandal, which involved Bush’s parents receiving improper benefits, much like the Newton situation.
The ruling on the Bush case resulted in sanctions against the University of Southern California, unlike Auburn, which faces no major penalties or sanctions after the investigation and is still ongoing because the NCAA won’t comment on the continuing investigation.
USC athletic director Pat Haden questioned the NCAA ruling by saying, “In the Reggie Bush case, when the parent [did] something inappropriate, the kid and the school suffered.”
The big downside was that the decision seemed to be aimed at TCU and all non-automatic qualifying schools, and I think the NCAA never wants to see a non-AQ school in the national championship game.
Without Cam Newton, Auburn most likely wouldn’t have gone undefeated and would not be in the position to play for the national championship. Instead, TCU would make a return trip to Glendale, Ariz., and have a chance to play for its third national title.
The NCAA never wants to see a non-AQ win a national title over a big money university. Michael Wilbon of the ESPN show “Pardon the Interruption” recently said, “the first thing I thought of when Cam Newton was ruled eligible is the NCAA wants to keep TCU out of the national championship game.”
Instead of wondering what could or should have been, Frog nation needs to be in full force in Pasadena to show the NCAA that not only is the team worthy of a national title shot, but also that TCU has arrived and is here to stay.
Steven Bocanegra is a sophomore sports broadcasting major from El Paso.