Cameron Newton’s Critical Mass?

My takeaway from Heisman voter reaction following the initial story about the NCAA investigation into a possible ‘pay-for-play’ scheme involving Cameron Newton was that most voters were willing, barring any further damning information, to give the Auburn quarterback the benefit of the doubt in his quest for the Heisman.

However, a couple recent developments are clouding that judgement, including new allegations of academic fraud while at Florida and further details that allege there were specific phone conversations between the Newtons and various coaches regarding cash payments.

Whether fair or not, perception morphs into reality at some point.  And in Newton’s short career, we already have a stolen laptop, possible academic fraud and maybe a lot of money changing hands during recruiting.  Voters could very well surmise that where there is smoke, there is fire. 

Like all scandals, the accumulated drip-drip-drip of the story has a way of taking its toll.  It has the potential of turning into a major frenzy.  Even if Newton is somehow cleared of specific allegations, some doubt is likely to remain.  And if his issues remain murky and unresolved into December, the question is: How many Heisman voters will feel comfortable voting for him?  Will Heismandment No. 10 rear its ugly head and knock him out of the race?  Right now, voters don’t think he’s a bad guy–at worst, they think he’s maybe a bit of a wayward knucklehead–but is that perception about to change?

Unfortunately, we may not know the answer until Dec. 11. 

On a side note, SportsbyBrooks makes a great point about the NCAA’s investigation.  Apparently, the SEC and the NCAA knew about these allegations 11 months ago. 

So according to ESPN, the SEC had knowledge of phone conversations personally involving Cam Newton and his play-for-pay scheme and the NCAA has not only done nothing about it for 11 months, but hasn’t even sent Auburn a letter of inquiry?

Either what ESPN is reporting is not true, or the SEC and/or NCAA is involved in coverup that has allowed Newton to play this season for Auburn while eligible.

Or we’re talking abject incompetence on the part of the NCAA and/or SEC.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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13 Responses to Cameron Newton’s Critical Mass?

  1. Just a guy November 10, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    Sportsbybrooks must not know much about the NCAA. They sometimes take YEARS to send a letter of inquiry in a cse like this one. I wouldn’t bet against AU getting one on this case; in fact it is highly likely that they do.

  2. sean November 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    after Bush went scarface @ USC it took five years if anything this is face.

  3. Dave November 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    There’s a 3rd possibility (and 4th, and 5th, for that matter).

    Honestly, the SEC and the NCAA can’t do much with “he said, she said” information. They can’t declare guilt, but they can’t exactly declare innocence, too. They just start a file and wait to see if more information develops. It’s all they can do.

    What appears to be happening is either (A) Cam’s become big enough news to make all of this stuff (which remains undocumented) bankable or (B) something new has developed which is interesting enough to earn a glance from the FBI. I think both. For example, perhaps someone with knowledge of something on Cam is shaking him down and leaking selectively — that’s essentially what happened to Bush.

    Point is – could be anything at this point.

  4. Evidence Required November 10, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    It is okay to be skeptical about Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton. It is also reasonable to be skeptical of the SEC, and especially the NCAA (who is their watchdog?) Skepticism means keeping an eye toward human frailty.

    But until there is some hard evidence that Newton or his family took money, then there is no case.

    No case does not mean that Newton is clean. (Although he definately could be.) It just means there are no grounds on which the charges can stand. Right now, there is heresay; heresay is not reliable and therefore is not applicable as “evidence”.

    My bias is that I am suspicious of pastors. (of course that is just based on the small sample of the few that I have known.) If I recall, Bush’s stepdad was a pator and was instrumental in getting Reggie involved with the wrong people. Thus if evidence of pay for play did turn up, I would not be shocked.

    We tacitly agree to live by the rules of the game. When these are broken, THEN perhaps elligibility is in question, depending on the severity of the offense. However current allegations DO NOT DEMONSTRATE that any rules have been broken.

    Personally, some of these allegations do not pass “the smell test” and to me appear to have the outward appearance of political smear tactics.

    One more thing:
    Potential rule breakage is one thing, but PLEASE let us not put character on trial.

    Reno, NV

  5. Chris November 10, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    “Cam Newton and his play-for-pay scheme”

    No rush to judgment there!

    If unsubstantiated allegations hurt Cam Newton’s chances, a conviction for assaulting a young woman devastates LaStrangle James’ chances.

    • Heismanpundit November 10, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

      You are a real piece of work, Chris. Nowhere in this post do I write that he took pay for play.

      And some of you seem to have forgotten all you learned about the Bush investigation. The NCAA doesn’t need the kind of proof that would hold up in a court of law. Lloyd Lake never produced any evidence that he gave Bush money, since it was all in cash. It was a total case of he said/she said and the NCAA chose to believe Lake (a convicted felon). If the NCAA chooses to believe whoever is saying this about Newton, it will do so and that’s all that will matter.

  6. sam November 10, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    So he wins and in a few years when it all comes out in the wash that wrongs were done a new batch of kids have to take the punishment while he is off in the NFL making millions. USC Bush all over again, actually it looks worse but east coast bias and all that CAM wins and the class of 2014 loses.

  7. Chris November 10, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    No where did I attribute the quote to you. But let’s also not pretend the quote made it into your article all by itself. You quoted that source because you think its the truth.

    Years after the house, car, trip receipts and Bush lies you were telling people not to rush to judgment. Days into the Cam Newton allegations you’re tossing out quotes like “Cam Newton and his play-for-pay scheme.”

    And let us know when you dedicate an article to LaStrangle James’ assault and his woefully short suspension.

    • Heismanpundit November 11, 2010 at 2:34 am #

      What quote? I linked to ESPN, which had the story about a possible play for pay scheme. Note the word ‘possible.. Nowhere do I say it is factual. That’s why there is a ‘factual’ NCAA investigation going on.

      My point in talking about this is entirely to analyze its effect on the race, which makes sense for a web site that covers the Heisman race.

      James’ case is not relevant because it’s not being talked about in the way Newton’s situation is. If it started to have a bearing on the race, I would talk more about it. But it is not my job to influence the raise, so it’s not up to me to bring it up.

      As for me telling people not to rush to judgement, that’s naturally a lie. Here is my first post following the Bush story.

      and of course this one didn’t exactly make usc look good:

  8. Roby November 10, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    One slightly off-topic thought:

    For all you people who are angry that some voters are withholding their vote from Newton based on his past indiscretions, and demanding that their voting privilege be revoked, consider the Heisman Trust’s mission statement (the first three sentences):

    “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with INTEGRITY. Winners epitomize great ability COMBINED with diligence, perseverance, and HARD WORK. The Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and integrity of this award.”

    It not only the Heisman voters’ right to consider character in casting their vote, some would argue that it is their responsibility. Some voters choose to ignore character, but I won’t argue against them. It is ultimately their prerogative to do so.

    You can say all you want that the facts aren’t out in the pay-for-play scandal. But it is a fact that Newton was charged (then plead down) with theft at UF. If voters want to consider that incident, it is their right.

    I personally glad that he got a second chance after the laptop incident, and if I had a vote, I would vote for him today. However, if these new allegations are true, I would not touch him with a 10-foot pole.

  9. rgyle November 11, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    Is using the moniker “LaStrangle” is unbiased? Of course it isn’t. And it’s not prejudicial either because that case is closed, thus postjudicial and stupid. He was convicted of misdemeanor harassment. He did not “strangle” his ex-girlfriend. He grabbed her by the neck to stop her from running away in a jealous rage with his car keys. She is an apparently troubled young woman to whom he publicly apologized anyway and then paid his dues. By the way, LaMike is more into being a team player and academic all-American—two things he can control—than being a Heisman winner. All this stated, Cam is without question an amazing player and will be a force in the NFL for years.

  10. HP November 11, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    Chris, I’ll give you one more shot. Continue to intentionally misrepresent things or use words like ‘LaStrangle’ and you are out of here. Simple as that. Either grow up, or be gone.

  11. rgyle November 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Chris, read this: No mention of strangling. LMJ certainly got emotional and was not acting with a completely clear head. But his ex-GF got off with no charge for destruction of property, trespassing or theft. Relationships at their ages are not always the most sane. Nonetheless, he apologized to her publicly, even defended her, paid his dues and moved on. She paid nothing for her transgressions, including instigating the whole situation with her confrontation at the front door. She’s likely still bitter and jealous while he’s doing well in school, has a good shot at winning the Heisman while performing well on the #1 team in the country. I don’t think he cares what you or I think. As for Cam, (and I won’t call him sCam), I hope he and his dad are innocent. He’s certainly a hell of a player, I’d say better this year than sophomore LaMichael.