Last Night's Winner: Cecil Newton Made It After All

"Limited access" to the team means one thing to normal people like me or you, and another thing entirely to Cecil Newton. Despite Auburn saying he wouldn't be in attendance, there he was, cheering on his son. Season over, Cecil Newton wins.

Auburn AD Jay Jacobs said yesterday that Cecil wouldn't make the game in Glendale. It "was mutually agreed upon. Out of the highest respect that Cecil has for Cameron, he won't be here today." Either Cecil didn't have that much respect, or someone was misinformed, because after the game, there was Cam, searching the stands for a familiar face, then striding into the seats for a hug. Who was the mystery man? The Opelika-Auburn News hedges their bet, sticking a question mark on their "Cam and Cecil" photo caption. But I'd recognize that brow ridge anywhere.

The whole sordid scandal can be put to bed now. There won't be any returning the Heisman, or vacating the National Championship. The only reason Reggie Bush eventually got busted was because Lloyd Lake wanted his money, and there's no one in this situation with an interest in spilling the beans on what really happened.

And even if this does come back, even if three years from now everything's taken away, so what? Cam got his college stardom and NFL ticket. Cecil got...whatever he got. Auburn fans got to celebrate being the nation's best. None of these can be taken away.

So Cecil Newton wins. Maybe he didn't get money from Mississippi State, and maybe he didn't ask for money from Auburn (the NCAA would like you to believe that, while they implicitly admit he did something improper), although his church did get fixed up somehow. His son won the Heisman Trophy, and a National Title, and now heads for the uncertain but lucrative waters of the NFL Draft. He waited out the months of controversy until today, when they can't touch him or his son.

No one could touch them as they shared a bear hug, on a night when Cecil wasn't even supposed to be in the stadium. We don't begrudge him his attendance: he's justifiably proud of his son and wanted to take in his finest moment. But to have Auburn saying otherwise, and to not anticipate what the backlash would be this morning, just shows an utter lack of awareness of how the Newtons, the school and the NCAA are perceived, a lack of awareness that's pervaded the entire scandal and investigation.