I’m a Dye hard Auburn fan. I will defend Auburn until the end, no matter what evidence there may be against them, or one of their players. I’m also not a reporter. I don’t have contacts or sources, even unnamed ones. The purpose of writing this is not to break any news; what I’m about to write is nothing more than an opinion. That being said, I think this opinion is not only completely plausible, but may even border on likely. So, here is how I think the Cam Newton story went down, based on what we know:
Dan Mullen was the offensive coordinator at UF. He was successful during his tenure there, and as is common, his name came up in talks concerning a new head coach at MSU. Once Mullen was approached by MSU, he immediately began planning for his team there, considering whom he would hire for his staff, where he would go to recruit, and who he would talk to about playing for him. He realized that his current back-up quarter back at UF wasn’t getting play time, and would continue to be benched for another season since Tim Tebow had decided to return for his senior year. Mullen knew better than anyone what Cam Newton was capable of, and probably decided that it would be wise to secure Newton for his starting QB at MSU. He could have approached Cam almost immediately.
Mullen also knew about the trouble Cam had gotten into with the accusations of cheating, and the charges of receiving a stolen laptop. If Mullen was going to be successful, he probably thought it would be wise to let the dust surrounding Newton settle a little before he started playing for him at MSU. So Newton went to junior college for a season. It’s not unreasonable to think that during that year Cam and Mullen stayed in touch, so in Mullen’s mind, signing Newton was a sure thing. He would get Newton, who could potentially lead his team to an SEC championship in Mullen’s second year as a head coach, and Cam would have 2 full years of college play under his belt when he went to the NFL draft, which would raise his stock.
At the end of Newton’s season at Blinn, he and his dad went to visit MSU as is custom. During the course of his visit, Cam’s dad, Cecil, runs into Kenny Rogers. Cecil Newton could have been completely unaware of Rogers’s reputation as a shyster. At some point during their visit, Rogers could have approached Cecil about the possibility of lining his pockets. After all, they knew MSU wanted Cam to play for them, and it was almost certain they would be willing to pay for it.
I don’t care who you are, if someone approaches you about the possibility of putting an easy $180,000 in your pocket, you will more than likely at least consider it. You may even pursue it for awhile. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone that would immediately decline an offer like that on the spot. But the more time someone spends thinking about an offer like that, knowing it’s unethical, wrong, and potentially damaging to someone’s football career, the more you get spooked. Once it’s out there, however, it’s nearly impossible to take it back. Certainly so, and be able to save face at the same time.
I believe Cecil Newton let his conscious get the better of him. I believe that Cecil told Cam to sign with Auburn because he (rightfully) got cold feet. I think Kenny Rogers was the first one to bring up the subject of pay for play, and once Cecil Newton showed some interest, he took the ball and ran with it. There is no question in my mind that Cecil Newton went along with it, at least for awhile. Ultimately, however, I think Cecil thought better of it, but felt trapped in the firestorm that had gotten started, and the only way out was to go to a completely different school.
How would Mullen feel about it? Even if he didn’t know about the pay for play talk that was going on, from his point of view, his superstar player, that he thought was signed, sealed, and delivered, suddenly jumped ship on him. This was the beginning of his Head Coaching career, and it potentially just disappeared. Perhaps he had put all his eggs in the Newton basket. Maybe he hadn’t put much time and effort into recruiting another quarterback because he didn’t think he needed one. Now, suddenly, he was left high, and dry.
If I were in his shoes, I’d be hacked off too, especially watching Cam do so well at Auburn. The superstar QB that was supposed to be playing for him was leading Auburn to #2 in the nation, and potentially to the big game. Is it unreasonable to think that he would have gotten wind of the pay for play talk through some of MSU’s alum, and asked them to blow the whistle on it? I don’t think so. After all, the stars had aligned perfectly. He had John Bond to blow the whistle, Bill Bell to confirm the story, and Kenny Rogers to take the fall. Rogers was already in trouble with the NFL, and he had a reputation for being unethical, so it would be easy to pin it on him and keep his staff squeaky clean.
He probably had no idea how the story would play out with the SEC and the NCAA, but he had to have known that there would be some sort of windfall, and perhaps that was good enough for him. He probably didn’t know if there was any, or enough, evidence to put Newton on the bench, but he had to know that the media would have a field day with it, and at the very least, it would cast a dark shadow on Cam Newton, and his success.
Even if Mullen didn’t hold a grudge, there is still John Bond to consider. I would imagine he might have been pretty disappointed to lose Newton too. He stood to lose something as well. If nothing else, he’s an MSU fan. The bottom line is that there are only 3 people saying that there was talk of paying the Newton’s to get Cam to sign, and all 3 of them are MSU alum, and obviously, big fans of the program. If I had the knowledge they had, and I played for and graduated from MSU, I’d be furious too.
So now you have to ask: Are these guys credible? We know Rogers isn’t. He’s being investigated by the NFL for God knows what, and there are already stories out about how he shouldn’t be trusted. John Bond? I don’t know anything about the guy, but he does have motivation, even if he is just carrying out the request of his beloved school’s head football coach. Bill Bell? Again, I don’t know the guy, but he has the same motivation as Bond. Has anyone asked Mr. Bell if he spoke to Cecil Newton directly? If Rogers approached him about the money himself, then everything hinges on what Rogers said, which is shady at best. Couldn’t it be that Rogers was, as Cecil Newton said, acting on his own? Couldn’t he have been trying to secure the money before he approached the Newton’s about it? Personally, I don’t buy that. I believe Cecil Newton started out submitting to greed’s temptation, but it IS possible.
The person with the biggest axe to grind is Dan Mullen. He has been quoted as saying that he had a great relationship with Cam at Florida, so if that is true, it had to have hurt that much more when Cam signed with Auburn. He had to have felt betrayed from the start, but to add to it, Cam has been amazing.
The bottom line is that there are entirely too many questions that need answers. Even the most anti-Auburn fan has to admit that this is certainly not an open and shut case. To penalize a 20 something year old kid before you have any evidence other than what some wanna be agent has said is ridiculous.
Heisman voters: vote for the best player in college football, because suspicions aside, you don’t know for certain that he doesn’t deserve it, and to give it to someone less deserving based on suspicions is to waste your vote, not the other way around.