It isn’t over until the NCAA says it’s over, and even then there is still a crystal ball’s worth of doubt.
While the Auburn family rejoiced Wednesday afternoon as the NCAA announced it found no major violations in the Tigers’ recruitment of Cam Newton, the rest of the college football nation seemed to roll its eyes.
It was a long wait for the Tigers after the governing body of college sports snooped around their athletic department for 14 months, searching for the “bagman” or someone who wouldn’t lawyer up. But the one thing that stood out Wednesday afternoon wasn’t the disbelief by fans from across the state and around the country, it was that loud sound of relief coming from east Alabama.
Fans commented on Facebook and Internet message boards that they finally could celebrate the national championship.
The only reason they haven’t been celebrating since Jan. 10 is because they, too, believed something might have been wrong.
ESPN’s Colin Cowherd read the news release on his show, “The Herd,” Thursday morning and laughed for almost two minutes. He didn’t believe Auburn was clean 10 months ago. He doesn’t believe it now.
“Just because you don’t find something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” he said.
Without the laughter, he might represent every one outside of the “family.”
But one thing is certain: There isn’t any concrete evidence that Auburn or Newton knew what his father was doing -- essentially trying to pimp him out to Mississippi State. Whether you believe that this type of thing could go on without Cam knowing is one thing (especially considering how close they say they are), but no one can prove that he did until the Carolina Panthers quarterback admits it.
And, as far as I can tell, that’s not happening.
So why is there still the sense that something is missing, despite no concrete proof?
It could be that the foundation of this story was so disgustingly true and proven.
Cecil Newton did in fact shop his son. He admits it. And that is where this story started. It grew legs, and more stories followed with more unfounded accusations.
It started with a mistake by a father and ended with a national championship, more than a years-long investigation and finally clearance by the NCAA.
But this story, in most eyes, doesn’t end with a period. It ends with a dot, dot, dot.
Because, in most eyes, it hasn’t been fully told.
Stephanie Pedersen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 706-571-8502