Not to put it in overly dramatic terms, but I put as much stock in the NCAA's Auburn investigation as Pat Tillman's family put in the Pentagon's report on his killing in Afghanistan.
Believe it if you want. I don't.
The NCAA enforcement crew is understaffed and lacks subpoena power. The last thing it wants to do is announce that Auburn will have to give up its national title and prompt Cam Newton to fork over his Heisman Trophy. Not after a year in which big hitters Ohio State, Miami, Oregon and Boise State are feeling the wrath of the rule book.
The decision is a win for Auburn's lawyers and their ability to get key people to keep their mouths shut. Nothing more.
NCAA got it right
It seems like it was a lifetime ago when the NCAA began investigating Auburn. Actually, it has been only 13 months, but the fact we are still talking about it shows just how serious the NCAA was when it began looking into any pay-for-play scenarios.
The possibility of major violations against the national champions and the Heisman Trophy winner would have put a major black eye on the sport, so the NCAA wanted to make sure it had its facts straight. That proves it did due diligence in fully investigating the situation.
The NCAA did leave the door open if new evidence comes forward, but we finally can put all of this behind us and move on.
NCAA is not the FBI
Los Angeles Times
You don't have to be satisfied with anything the NCAA does but at some point you have to accept it. Now is that time.
The NCAA interviewed more than 50 people involved with the Cam Newton case. It could not find enough evidence to reach a "burden of proof" level. The NCAA is not the FBI. It does not have subpoena power. It could find no wrongdoing, but if there's new evidence the staff "will review that information to determine whether further investigation is necessary."
Only Auburn and Cam Newton know what really happened. If the program cheated to win the title, well, it wasn't the first. If it didn't, congratulations, just don't tell us there wasn't enough smoke there to raise doubts.
It's a flawed system
What the Auburn case shows is how limited the NCAA is as a watchdog and investigative agency.
With no subpoena power, NCAA investigators were unable to force three former Auburn players from talking about alleged rules violations. These are the same former players who told their stories to HBO's "Real Sports," but only one cooperated with the NCAA.
So the NCAA did what it could. Investigators interviewed everyone who would cooperate and they came to a conclusion — Auburn didn't break any rules.
Are we satisfied? We have no choice. It's a flawed system, so we have no other option than to move on. That's life in college athletics.