Cameron Newton smiled as he flapped his arms in celebration.
The best player on the best team in college football’s best conference couldn’t wait to celebrate at Toomer’s Corner. That’s where revellers at Auburn University gather to toilet paper the square after the Tigers win a football game.
Newton ran for 217 yards that afternoon in front of a national TV audience and right to the top of a wide-open Heisman race.
I can still see his smile as the clock counted down in the 24-17 win over LSU. His enthusiasm, style and jaw-dropping ability to lead a football team in his first year on the plains made me smile that afternoon.
Newton had arrived as the best college player in America. He won the Heisman Trophy that afternoon.
And then the train came off the track.
As of this evening, a day before Auburn hosts Georgia in another nationally televised game, we don’t know if Newton will start for the Tigers. His uncertain status for the game changed from “starter” to “no comment” in a day. Who knows where this goes next.
It’s alleged that Newton’s father asked Mississippi State for more than $100,000 during the recruiting process that took him away from Blinn College to the highest bidder. The Bulldogs didn’t win that game. Auburn did.
I’m not certain that Newton received a dime from anyone at Auburn – but I absolutely would be shocked if I found out that he didn’t. College football isn’t all form-fitting sweaters and roses on Senior Day.
Recruiting usually means sex, drugs, alcohol, cars, vacations and money. It’s the last one that really bugs me.
I’ve heard a story from a former division one punter that had a naked co-ed waiting for him on his recruiting trip to a very prestigious university. That’s for a punter. Imagine what happens with a player that plays on the football field the way Cameron Newton excels.
I hope it ends better than the way I think it ends.
Stories like this usually trend toward the refrain in Filter’s hit “Take A Picture:”
Could you take my picture , ‘Cause I won’t remember.
Cam Newton has two more chances in the regular season to develop a winning picture. Let’s hope he gets at least one more snap.