What Exactly Is ‘Worst Case Scenario’?

College football has a number of problems that have recently come to the forefront of the landscape, and one major problem that has been the “whipping boy”, so to speak, since its inception. Ultimately, what scares the NCAA more? The possible Bowl Championship Series (BCS) buster match-up of TCU vs. Boise State for the National Championship, the litany of quality players getting gifts and being taken to parties by agents while they’re still in school, or the cheating and ‘pay-to-play’ rumors about college footballs biggest star at the moment, Cam Newton? In the past the NCAA has been able to skirt around the issues and make it seem as if they are completely oblivious to any wrongdoing off the field. They have gone so far as to strip a player, Reggie Bush, of his Heisman Trophy award, and suspend countless players for off the field infractions. The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions is set up to monitor players and possible rules violations, yet no one notices a college kid driving a tricked out car, wearing a three thousand dollar suit, or jet-setting to Miami for a weekend of inebriated fun as a red flag? By that same token the committee has been extremely successful in making sure coaches don’t practice too long in the offseason. Score one for the remedial club.

Bad press is one thing, but no press is even worse. It’s no secret that the BCS is not a fan favorite, in fact the only people who like the concept are the people who came up with it and the two teams that get the nod to play in the championship game each year. It garners huge TV contracts from ESPN, Fox, and ABC, and has pitted the number one vs. number two team in the AP poll against each other 9 out of 12 years since its inception. A relative win when taking into account that prior to the BCS that statistic only rang true eight times in 56 seasons. There has been some controversy in certain years, but all in all the system has gotten lucky with losses by certain schools when it was needed and big name schools staying undefeated throughout the season. But what if all the big name BCS automatic bid schools lose, and there are only two non-automatic qualifying schools left? The ratings would practically disappear for the crème de la crème of bowl games. Instead of ‘who will win’ guesses by the sports analysts it could turn into ‘when will the BCS become extinct’.

Everyone loves the David vs. Goliath matchup, and if either Oregon or Auburn are able to stay undefeated and go at it with TCU or Boise St. the system would once again walk away unscathed. Everyone knows the nightmare that might ensue, and almost everyone is crossing their fingers in hopes that it comes true. Of course there is a way to guarantee quality matchups every year, insert a playoff system. A plea that has gone on deaf ears for countless years due to the money generated by bowl games. The BCS’s official response to that possibility is that it doesn’t want to diminish the regular season’s impact. It sounds like the NCAA needs a wake up call. Perhaps ABC should implant subliminal “playoffs” messages into all the bowl games to finally get it into their heads.

Given the fact that the NCAA has become as good as politicians at spinning a story it will come as no shock to anyone that they say they are as surprised as the fans to find out players are taking handouts by agents, or an agents representatives, before they leave school. In an effort of full disclosure, does that mean that they aren’t surprised at all? Most fans find it hard to believe that these players aren’t getting special compensation for their efforts on the field. After all, their hard work generates millions of dollars in revenue for the school, and millions more for the coaching staff. Paying players is out of the question, but if someone of means is willing to give a poor college student a gift it is not as though the student is going to deny it. They can’t be given checks because their bank accounts can be looked over by the NCAA, the NFL, the IRS, etc, but cash is untraceable and many players are reaping the rewards.

This type of thing has been around since the mid-80s, when the miscreants of the University of Miami won a boatload of games and partied like they already owned the world. If it has been around for so long does it really pose a threat to the reputation of college football as a whole? The possibility that players taking money could rip apart what college football has become is ludicrous. The games will still go on and the best players will play in them. The only problem the NCAA has at its feet now is stopping it. According to multiple reports, this type of thing is as much an institution as the game itself. If the committee looks deeper than they already have and find that there are more infractions than not where can the line be drawn? It’s not like they would be willing to suspend every player, such a decision would be plain boneheaded.

Cameron (Cam) Newton is a special case. If you haven’t heard his name it is because this is his first year being on Auburn’s team. Mr. Newton is currently the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. He is the best player at the most important position; quarterback, on one of the best teams in the country. However, prior to excelling at Auburn it was a rocky road for Cam. In 2007 and 2008 Cam was enrolled at the University of Florida, where he played Quarterback behind much heralded Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow, now with the Denver Broncos. Needless to say, he didn’t get the bulk of the snaps. He transferred after 2008, but not because of his lack of playing time. Cam was mired in three cheating scandals that included putting his name on a classmate’s paper, without the classmate’s knowledge, more than once, among other things. He was set to have a disciplinary hearing about the matter, but decided to transfer to Blinn Junior College in Texas before such a hearing could take place. In 2009 he carried Blinn to a Junior College national championship and subsequently took a scholarship offer from Auburn. Reports are that Cam and his father were looking for a big payday from whichever school wanted him the most. Mississippi State has gone on the record as saying the Newtons, by way of a third party, were looking for a six figure signing bonus, and during a final phone call with the school Cam regretfully informed them that he signed with Auburn because “the money was just too much”.

Is one infraction more egregious than another because it involves money? The NCAA is “looking into the allegations”, but Cam is still on the field for Auburn. This decision could lead to Auburn being forced to forfeit games if Cam is found guilty of taking money from recruiters, but regrettably he gets away scot free from the cheating scandal that threatened to expel him from of U of F. This story could be detrimental if told in grade-school classrooms to kids who already idolize the player. The phrases ‘don’t cheat, but if you do transfer before anything happens’ and ‘if you take money, hide it well’ are not exactly words to live by for the future leaders of tomorrow to grow up with.

Cam Newton is an incredible talent; he can throw from the pocket better than Vince Young or take off and run ala Mike Vick. But no matter what, he should not be able to be on the field. Most kids these days are taking money, which is one thing and should be handled in the correct forum, but the kid cheated on multiple occasions. In spite of everything to the contrary, the term is still ‘student athlete’ remember? Student comes first. The NCAA has a chance to get at least one thing right. Here’s hoping that they do.

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