Auburn, not just Cam Newton, was simply too much for Oregon. They were too big. Too physical. The Tigers, who defeated the Ducks 22-19 on a last-second field goal, were able to slow college football’s fastest team to a crawl.
Chip Kelly‘s unparalleled focus and “win the day” attitude helped Oregon execute their game plan better than anyone else in the country throughout the regular season. Tonight, though, they couldn’t seem to get through an offensive series mistake free.
Perhaps Kelly’s scheme, so dependent on timing, suffered the most with the long layoff.
And, in the end, Newton got the only missing piece from his already impressive (and likely) one-and-done career at Auburn: a BCS National Championship. It was the first for the Tigers since 1957.
But no matter how impressive Newton’s season was — and, believe us, it was — or how many highlight reels he made, or what he meant to the Auburn community, there will always be one looming question.
Was Newton eligible?
It’s a fair question; we’re not trying to rain on anyone’s parade here. From the initial reports in November, to the moments before kickoff, the investigation was, and still is, a legitimate probe. When you factor in the NCAA’s decision to make Newton ineligible, only to reverse the decision 24 hours later, the whole situation became a folly.
But, even if Newton didn’t know that his father was soliciting money in a pay-to-play plan — a clear infraction on NCAA rules — the bylaw remains. Fair or not.
Based on that, Newton shouldn’t have been eligible. Period.
Not that it matters now. Auburn got their championship. Whether or not it stands the test of time remains to be seen. By that point, though, Newton will be gone, probably with a career in the NFL. Amongst the Auburn faithful, he’ll be remembered for his spectacular runs and helping in Auburn’s come-from-behind victory over Alabama. And let’s not be mistaken: Newton deserves all of those praises.
But there will always be uncertainty surrounding Newton and Auburn and it will leave a tainted legacy for those wanting to know what really happened.