January 20, 2011 by David Gillaspie
Dear University of Southern California,
Please call Auburn University.
They are moving toward a dark hole, the same one Reggie Bush dug for you. The man with the shovel in Alabama is Cam Newton.
Like Heisman winner Bush, Newton took his team to the top of Division One football. Unlike Bush, the Newton investigation is not closed. The FBI and the NCAA continue their investigations.
The recap: Cam Newton was dismissed from the Tigers, and then reinstated when his father’s pay to play activities at Mississippi State didn’t follow him to Auburn. From ineligible, to eligible, to Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Davey O’Brian Award, and Heisman Trophy winner, Newton was the best of the best in 2010.
Those awards are similar to Reggie Bush’s AP Player of the Year, Walter Camp Award, Doak Walker Award, and Heisman for 2005. Bush lost his Heisman and USC lost their 2004 title, along with the record from 2005, because he was ruled ineligible.
What happens if Cam Newton follows suit?
While elite football programs raise the profile of the schools they represent, scandals smear students and alumni more than the players who create the problems.
A student from Tigard attended USC. He graduated as a Renaissance Scholar. At USC, Renaissance Scholar means “a minimum overall grade point average of 3.5 for cum laude, 3.7 for magna cum laude and 3.9 for summa cum laude,” according to usc.edu. Further, “Each Renaissance Scholar is also entitled to enter the Renaissance Scholar Prize competition.
Of the 77 graduating scholars who chose to compete, ten have been nominated to receive a $10,000 prize.”
The Tigard student left with the prize and enrolled in Columbia Medical School. Did the USC football scandal affect him? He’ll hear about it the rest of his life.
Reggie Bush moved on to greater fame, but he is not welcome at USC from all reports. The infractions that led to his status on campus opened the door to other Pac-10 teams, like the Oregon Ducks.
Who would Auburn would rather play, the first-time-to-the-big-dance Ducks, or the perennial powerhouse Trojans? With the same reasoning, who would the Ducks rather play, Auburn, or the other USC, the University of South Carolina?
College football brings families and friends together and draws students to schools they might otherwise pass over. It doesn’t need another death penalty like SMU received in 1987, and the Pac-10 is better since the University of Washington bounced back from the Rick Neuheisel years.
The last thing college football needs is another Reggie Bush fall-out. For universities and colleges that play by the rules, and their cheering fans, please send Auburn a message.
Without Cam Newton, Auburn loses to the Ducks. If he’s found ineligible, the title will be vacated. Oklahoma lost to USC in the 2004 title game, which now shows no champion. It’s too late for Oregon this time, but create a level playing field for the next time.
Maybe a word from former USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett would help.