SEC mailbag: Two more games for Newton?

So, what’s on your mind?

Cam Newton? The SEC championship game? Bowl destinations?

Let’s check the mailbag and see:

Ruth in Mobile, Ala., writes: Do you think everything that’s happened with Cam Newton means he’s definitely gone to the NFL after the season?

Chris Low: I thought by the middle of the season he was gone to the NFL, and that was long before any of the pay-for-play allegations became public. Now that it’s out there that his dad did indeed shop him to Mississippi State and with the investigation not closed, I’d say that will make Newton’s decision that much easier. He’s No. 14 this week on Mel Kiper’s Big Board of the top 25 NFL prospects, so there’s an excellent chance that Newton will be a first-round pick. This is his fourth year out of high school, so why hang around? Plus, with the way he’s thrown the ball in his past four games, his stock is only going to go up in the eyes of pro scouts. He’s made throws you don’t see NFL quarterbacks making.

Chuck in Las Vegas, N.M., writes: Cam Newton was widely recruited, but no other school has stepped forward to suggest even a hint that Cecil Newton approached them. This suggests to me that Mississippi State was isolated and that Cecil was testing the waters. Did Cecil say to Cam: “Hey let's make some money?” If I were on a jury, I would still have a major reasonable doubt. How about you?

Chris Low: I’m not on a jury. But, yes, I would have some doubt because no evidence has surfaced to this point that Cam Newton or Auburn knew anything about this, that Cam Newton participated in any way or that any money exchanged hands, which is why he’s eligible to play. All we know for sure is that his father broke NCAA rules.

Sean in Nashville, Tenn., writes: Hi, Chris. I agree with your statements about the Cam Newton reinstatement (except it should state anyone who has lived in the 334 area code.) Full disclosure, I am an Auburn grad and football fan. That said, I feel if anyone cheats, they should sit. My problem with the coverage of this is that people seem stuck on the fact Cam MUST have known what his father was doing. Why does that matter? A 20-year-old can no more tell his father what to do than a 6-year-old. Furthermore, it appears that Cam did not benefit, even if money did change hands. He is not driving a new car around campus (as far as I know.) As long as he didn't actively take part in the conversations and no money changed hands, why should he be punished? How can a recruit, or a school, be expected to police every conversation had by everyone the recruit's family knows?

Chris Low: In this case, it did matter whether or not Cam Newton knew because it was one of the mitigating factors weighing in his favor during the reinstatement process. The NCAA spelled that out in its release. Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president for academic and membership affairs, stated, “Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement.” What that tells me is that if the NCAA had evidence that Cam Newton knew what his father was doing, then he wouldn’t have been reinstated.

Vamsi in Los Angeles, Calif., writes: Chris, nice analysis of the Cam ruling. Doesn't it seem bizarre that the NCAA just came out to say, “Oh my gosh, that is indeed a crazy loophole! I understand why everyone's (peeved). We're going to have to close that this offseason?” They created this loophole three days ago. There was no loophole! It was pretty straightforward that a parent soliciting money was acting as an agent and thus breaking NCAA rules, right? I think the NCAA should have avoided any ruling. But, now, it just seems like their motives can be questioned.

Chris Low: I think NCAA president Mark Emmert came out and said something because the NCAA was taking such a public beating when it was obvious, as you say, that a parent was soliciting money, acting as an agent and thus breaking NCAA rules, yet his son was still ruled eligible to play. As Emmert said himself, “We recognize that many people are outraged at the notion that a parent or anyone else could ‘shop around’ a student-athlete and there would possibly not be repercussions on the student-athlete's eligibility.” Emmert went on to say that the NCAA would work aggressively with its members to amend its bylaws to make sure “this type of behavior is not a part of intercollegiate athletics.” Loophole or no loophole, the NCAA sure thinks there's one.

Danny in Auburn, Ala., writes: Isn’t it true that you just wanted to see Cam on the sideline for this game because you missed last week’s pick against your beloved Alabama?

Chris Low: Nope, not true at all. I picked Auburn in this game. And to be honest, with the way the Tigers (and Newton) have handled their business during this whole ordeal, it’s hard to imagine anything being a distraction for them now. They’ve come through the hard part.