At 6'5 250 pounds Cam Newton is a unique physical specimen that invokes fear in the hearts of tiny defensive backs that try to tackle him in the secondary. Most experts see him as the second coming of JaMarcus Russell with a better work ethic and appreciation for his god given ability. In a season where several major programs are having a down year (Florida, Texas, USC) and several non BCS teams are staking their claim to play in the national championship game (Boise St., TCU) Cam Newton has established himself as the best player in college football.
Heisman voters will be skeptical about checking the box next to his name when they cast their ballots however. That's understandable considering all the media backlash surrounding Reggie Bush over the last few months. The committee would be wise to err on the side of caution going forward. That's not to say the two situations are the same. Reggie Bush received money from an agent for three years while Cam (allegedly) received money from a booster to attend Auburn University. In the end improper benefits are improper benefits and the committee has to protect itself. The best player in college football probably won't win the Heisman.
Did Auburn do the right thing if they paid Cam Newton? The odds were heavily in their favor they wouldn't get caught and the potential results were too good to pass up. Auburn is more relevant than their fierce rivals The Alabama Crimson Tide, they are 11-0 for only the 3rd time in school history, and will more than likely play in the national championship game and earn close to $3,000,000 for the appearance. If you factor in ticket sales, jersey sales, and the overall economic impact on businesses serving Auburn University interests it sounds like a pretty good return on investment to me.
People have to realize the SEC handles things differently. Football is religion. Their priorities are football, football, football, spring football, and high school football. Any of those schools would do whatever it takes to win the SEC and have a shot at the national championship. Traditions run deep and losing is not acceptable. Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Les Miles make more money than some NFL coaches for a reason. The alumni at these schools expect results by any means necessary. It's not how you win, but if you win.
The most probable outcome to the whole situation is probation, loss of scholarships, and the forfeiture of a few games. It's never a good thing when the FBI gets involved and key members involved in the scandal have already professed their guilt. You can't un ring the bell and erase people's memories though. What's done is done. Cam Newton is putting together one of the greatest seasons in Auburn football history and if he continues on his current path the Auburn Tigers will beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl, beat South Carolina for the SEC championship, Cam Newton will win player of the year honors, and they will battle Oregon in the big game. What's a couple hundred thousand dollars if you get all that?