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Phillip's blog: A search for the truth?

To be honest, I haven’t watched ESPN a lot in the past week, but I watched a little Wednesday. And I was amazed – again – at what is going on.

Phillip Marshall, Senior Editor,

Other than the main college football guys, I don’t always recognize the “talent.” But I saw one fellow predict the ongoing controversy surrounding quarterback Cam Newton was going to pull the Tigers together and they were going to beat Georgia. The blonde lady on the show with him answered “The Tigers need to keep it rolling … while they can.”

Earlier, I heard a commentator say this wouldn’t stop until Auburn stood up and defended Newton, making me wonder if he was hiding under a rock Tuesday.

How many times have I heard and read that “Auburn is accused of offering Cam Newton $200,000?” Sounds good. Just isn’t true. Neither is it true that Cam Newton himself is accused of anything, other than by the gutless wonders who trash a young man from behind a cloak of anonymity.

Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel, usually one of the more reasonable guys out there, wrote Auburn and Newton lose credibility with each allegation. He also called the reporting on the initial story “airtight.”

Just what are the allegations of NCAA violations against Cam Newtton? Not his father, not Kenny Rogers, but Cam Newton? The uncomfortable answer for those on the attack is this: There aren't any.

But it all gets back to the same thing. Whether it’s ESPN, The New York Times or, these people are all working hard to back up their theories of what happened. Other than John Bond’s since discredited quotes in the’s first salvo last Thursday night, there has not been one real, live person quoted saying anything to implicate anybody.

These people could point out the obvious fact that Newton’s continuing to play says, beyond any doubt, that, at least now, the NCAA does not consider his eligibility in question. That hasn’t been said once that I know of. It doesn’t fit their story. Or maybe they really are just so uninformed they don’t know how the system works.

Real journalism, at its core, is a search for the truth. What’s passing for journalism today is a search for something to back up the flimsy reporting that they hope is the truth.

It’s interesting that none of the stories in this saga have broken in Alabama or Mississippi. That makes it pretty clear that three national outlets – ESPN, the New York Times and – are being fed by somebody who wants to get the largest possible audience and do the maximum amount of damage.

And if in all this, a college junior who happens to be a great football quarterback has his reputation destroyed? And if a team full of guys who have worked hard to live a dream get dragged through the mud? That clearly doesn’t matter. Collateral damage, you know?

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops says he saw nothing amiss in Newton's recruitment. USC's Lane Kiffin, who was at Tennessee at the time, says the same thing. Auburn's Gene Chizik vociferously defends Newton. Who cares? John Bond says somebody told him that somebody said something, so a personal attack unprecedented in college football history, and maybe in the history of football, period - commences.

Look, I don’t know what really happened, who asked for what or anything else. What I know is there hasn’t been enough evidence – and it doesn’t take much – for the NCAA to tell Auburn to sit Newton down until things are sorted out. What I don’t know is why so many are so gleefully piling on a 22-year-old without that evidence. My feeling about what has happened for the past week won't change if every allegation is proved to be true.

Who could, at least, turn down the volume? The NCAA could by simply stating the obvious. All they’d have to say is “At this point, we have found nothing to indicate Cam Newton’s eligibility is in question.” But don’t be holding your breath. The NCAA is as gutless as those who would ruin a young person’s life based on the flimsiest of information.

And don’t be holding your breath waiting for any of those people to do the right thing. They’re all too busy checking to see how many parking tickets Cam Newton got at the University of Florida.

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