STARKVILLE – It’s hard not to imagine where Mississippi State would be right now with Cam Newton at quarterback.
It seemed, to me at least, that Newton was all set to commit to State last December. Then he made a visit to Auburn – his last school visit – and committed to the Tigers on Dec. 31, and signed with them.
Now, of course, there are questions swirling around that recruiting process and whether Newton and his father, Cecil, were looking for “more than a scholarship,” as ESPN.com’s Joe Schad wrote Tuesday night.
MSU is a big part of this story because of ex-quarterback John Bond, who said he was approached by an agent’s runner about buying Newton’s services, and because two people “who recruit for Mississippi State” – that was Schad’s wording – said the Newtons admitted to them to wanting money for Newton’s signature on a national letter of intent.
I don’t know who to believe, but I do wonder if all this would have come to light had Newton signed with Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs. I’m not implying that MSU would’ve had to break rules to sign him, and I’m not saying Auburn did so, but if all the stuff leading up to signing day is true, then this story would probably still have come out.
So, MSU fans, be relieved that Newton isn’t on your campus. I know you badly wanted to see him come, but considering where the team stands now, whiffing on Newton isn’t that big a deal.
Sure, he’s a Heisman candidate, and the Bulldogs might be 8-1 or 9-0 with him under center. He led Auburn to a 17-14 win in Starkville. He’d have brought a lot of positive national exposure to the program for his on-field exploits.
But with a 7-2 record (3-2 in the SEC) and No. 17 national ranking, MSU is still ahead of where a lot of us thought it would be at this point in Mullen’s tenure.
The potential migraine associated with having Newton far outweighs the potential impact he could’ve had for the Bulldogs. That’s something Auburn is becoming familiar with. Six days out of the week, it’s nothing but bad news; on Saturday, Newton burnishes his Heisman résumé.
That’s not a great ratio.
MSU, on the other hand, is on a six-game winning streak, which makes every day a good day. Chris Relf is no Newton, but he’s playing well and is part of one of the nation’s best rushing attacks.
The Bulldogs are headed for a good bowl game. Maybe they’ll even upset No. 11 Alabama this weekend. I doubt it, but it could happen.
The only thing that could put a damper on this season would be losing the last three games, or just losing the Egg Bowl. Otherwise, there is much joy in Starkville, and the disappointment of not landing Newton is long gone.
Brad Locke (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at NEMS360.com.
Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal