Cam Newton’s lightning strike career at Auburn has yielded a BCS championship, a Heisman Trophy and a mountain of still unanswered questions, which, if eventually answered a certain way could cause the vacating of the first two items.

It also helped land Newton the largest endorsement deal ever for a NFL rookie, a multiyear shoe and apparel endorsement contract with Under Armour, according to Darren Rovell at CNBC. While specific numbers were not available, the deal will reportedly surpass Reggie Bush’s $1 million per year contract with Adidas that was signed in 2006.

Bush, of course, was also a magnet for controversy, eventually becoming the first player in history to give back his Heisman Trophy after it was determined he and his family received money from agents while at Southern California.

So who says crime (or at least crime as the NCAA determines it) doesn’t pay?

In the Auburn quarterback’s final regular-season college game at rival Alabama, he was mocked over the public address system with the “Steve Miller Band” song “Take the Money and Run.”

On Monday, Cam Newton got the last laugh on that one. He’s running now with a record haul. Under Armour beat out Nike for the deal, according to CNBC.

In terms of creating a brand that shoe companies wanted, a little controversy can go along way. At least everyone knows who Cam Newton is.

Back when he was just a high school basketball player at Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary, LeBron James was caught up in similar stories -– namely driving a new Hummer that appeared beyond his family’s means. He was even temporarily suspended by the state high school federation.

He landed a $90 million-plus deal with Nike anyway.

Newton may not be LeBron James, the ultimate sure-bet superstar when entering the professional ranks. He is a dynamic talent though who has the potential to be a NFL star and is a likely top 10 draft pick in April, according to a number of projected big boards.

NFL success is largely determined by work ethic -– a requisite amount of skill must be constantly honed and developed. Peyton Manning is still fanatical about film prep and off-season workouts.

There’s never a way to know if a prospect will make it or not. Under Armour is banking on Newton being committed to being great.

Newton’s stratospheric rise from fairly anonymous junior college recruit to must-see TV was like nothing college football has seen in years.

It usually takes seasons for football players to become household names. Newton, with his immense size, speed and flair for dramatic come-from-behind victories did it in a matter of months.

Feeding his obvious ability were midseason reports that his father, Cecil, had attempted to sell him to Mississippi State for $180,000, a soap opera tale that gripped the sport. The NCAA ruled, to much criticism, that Cam could remain eligible because he was unaware of his father’s actions. That decision was decried by administrators and coaches across the country.

Auburn held firm, spending at least $170,000 on legal fees to defend its star player, according to the Birmingham News.

Through it all, Cam kept his head high and a smile on his face, winning fans for his poise –- let alone his performance –- through a monstrous storm.

Soon after leading Auburn to the title, he declared himself eligible for the NFL draft.

He remains a touchstone for debate, many college fans either loving or hating him for the controversy that helped define his career. Many see a kid who -- knowingly or not -- worked outside the rules. Others consider the NCAA rules ridiculous and could care less. Still others think he was an innocent victim of his own father.

Thus far, there has been no implicating either Cam or Auburn football to any violations. And there may never be.

At this point, for Newton the product, it doesn’t matter. He certainly isn’t a damaged brand. And his NFL career will be determined by his play and nothing else. Few care about complying with NCAA statutes.

Colleges make a killing off star players like Cam Newton –- want to buy a $289 framed picture of him? Go to the Auburn school website. The only reasonable trade-off comes from the marketing the college game provides these supposed “amateurs.” The schools can make you famous.

College football did that for Cam Newton, a big-smile, bigger-talent whose whirlwind run won’t easily be duplicated. Good or bad, he was in the news. Everyone watched. And when they saw him with the ball in his hand, they kept watching.

Maybe one day they will take the Heisman back. Maybe they won’t. As Reggie Bush knows though, they can’t come for the money.

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The Five-Minute Podcast with Dan Wetzel asks radio host and columnist Clay Travis whether ...

Mark Sanchez is a victim after his date with a 17-year-old becomes public.

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The Five-Minute Podcast with Dan Wetzel gears up for college football signing day with ... recruiting czar Mike Farrell

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The Five-Minute Podcast with Dan Wetzel has two installments for the NFC championship game.

** Chicago native and Yahoo! Sports blogger Kevin Kaduk joins Dan to discuss ... Why You Should Hate The Green Bay Packers.

** And for equal time, Andy Tarnoff of makes a case for ... Why You Should Hate The Chicago Bears.

-- Dan Wetzel is the national columnist for Yahoo! Sports and

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Deer antlers? Yes, deer antlers.

They harvest the so-called velvet antler (a soft coating that covers deer antlers) in New Zealand, freeze-dry it and then grind it into a powder. It then gets shipped to the United States, where it gets put into either capsules or liquid extracts that can become a simple mouth spray. You can buy it for $68 a bottle.

For the elite athlete, experts say it’s essentially a human growth hormone, one of the substances organized sports is trying to keep out. The difference here is deer antlers are natural, not synthetic, and properly discovering it in a test falls somewhere between extremely challenging to virtually impossible.

Best anyone can figure, first you need to run a blood test (which leagues such as the NFL or Major League Baseball don’t do). Then you need to run a blood test at the exact proper time. Otherwise, nothing comes up.

“You can find it,” Jonathan Danaceau, a director at a World Doping Agency approved lab, told ThePostGame in its report about new Raiders coach Hue Jackson’s connection with a supplement company that produces the spray.. “But saying whether this is synthetic or natural is hard to determine. It’s only detectable in blood, and most anti-doping tests are done in urine.”

It’s a loophole for the athlete – turning drug tests into intelligence tests. You have to be stupid to fail one. The benefits of deer antler – or more specifically the substance IGF-1 that comes from it – are clear. IGF-1 is banned by everyone.

“It’s one of the proteins that is increased in human growth hormone … it’s considered performance-enhancing,” Danaceau said.

“It’s similar to HGH in that it aids in recovery. It helps build tissue, and strengthen tissue – more than you can ever do by training alone. Any preparation that is not naturally occurring is banned. Taking IGF-1 through deer antler is banned as well.”

So it’s banned, but difficult to detect, which leaves sports leagues in a quandary.

How the heck do you stop this?

“I use the spray all the time,” Bengals safety Roy Williams said. “Two to three times a day. My body felt good after using it. I did feel a difference.”

Williams never tested positive for anything. Considering various NFL assistant coaches, including new Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson (pictured below) have been associated with a company that admits shipping it to NFL players, it stands to reason the stuff is all over the league.

The NFL wants to claim it is fighting performance-enhancing drugs. A look around any locker room will tell you there are more than a few holes in the system. Guys will do pretty much anything to play in the NFL – the money, the fame, the competition. Now this?

The NFL is already in the collective bargaining fight of its life – you want to put blood testing on the table with the Players’ Association? Who even knows if this stuff is all that bad? Cheating is cheating but, maybe some of this stuff shouldn’t be considered cheating. If it can’t be enforced, why not make it legal for all?

Besides, the NFL is a brutal sport and recovering each week so you can get back on the field is a major part of it. If spraying ground up deer antler into your mouth helps, are we supposed to be outraged? Don’t you want players to recover from injuries?

Fans don’t seem to care what NFL players take – the game, in and of itself, is a health risk. Only the most naïve believe it’s clean anyway.

Yet according to Nielsen, a remarkable 53.2 million people watched the end of the New York Jets-New England Patriots game Sunday. That’s essentially one in every six Americans, babies included.

And while there is an inherent unfair advantage if one player keeps staying healthy while another doesn’t, what we haven’t seen in the NFL is what plagued baseball – over the top performances.

Some fans aren’t comfortable with players coming along and suddenly slugging 20 percent more home runs than anyone ever had. Since no one is suddenly throwing a football 100 yards in the air or rushing for 3,000 or kicking 80-yard field goals, it’s easy to overlook.

Ray Lewis(notes) is linked to this controversy through text messages with a supplier. Here’s guessing most fans will just shrug. Or laugh. The meanest linebacker of this generation might be playing with Bambi in him?

Some will actually applaud the resourcefulness of a veteran prolonging his career; after all, the game is more exciting with Ray Lewis in it.

If this was Albert Pujols, the reaction might be different. Or maybe at this point it won’t. Baseball doesn’t take blood tests either. IGF-1 can make the punishment of the season easier though. It’s the same for the NBA or NHL.

This is the new challenge for the leagues, the next level for those looking to circumvent the rules.

It’s “natural.” It’s easy – no messy needles. It’s secretive, no accomplices to shoot you up who can one day turn on you (right, Roger Clemens?). It’s effective, essentially HGH without the risk, because you probably aren’t getting caught.

Freeze-dried, ground up, liquid extract, New Zealand velvet deer antlers. That’s the level the athletes will go to gain an advantage. Anyone got any good ideas how far the leagues have to go to stop it?

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On Wednesday, ESPN and the University of Texas announced the formation of a new Longhorn Sports Network that will net the school some $300 million over the next 20 years. Or, as they see it in Austin, the University of Texas will continue to allow the rest of the country to have various networks; at least for the time being.

The network is a boon for UT, which not only will be awash in money but have its own network to spread the gospel of Longhorn football to fans, boosters and, of course, star recruits.

How exactly one university fills a 24-hour a day, seven day-a-week programming schedule, though, is a viable concern. You don’t want hours of shake-weight infomercials. Fortunately, the Yahoo! Sports investigative team was able to obtain secret documents detailing preliminary plans.

Midnight Replay of the 2006 Rose Bowl

2:00 The Most Interesting Man in the World: Mack Brown

2:30 This is Oklahoma Football: The John Blake Era!

3:00 Our Greatest American Heroes: Mario Edwards, defensive end, Denton Ryan High School

3:30 Mad Money: Have we mentioned how dang rich we are?

4:00 Who Stole Vince Young’s Heisman? Live Interview with Lloyd Lake

4:30 Remember the Alamo: Panel discussion on remembering the Alamo

5:00 Walker, Texas Ranger: Chuck Norris wears Mack Brown pajamas

5:30 Bevo: Our mascot will kick your mascot’s ass

6:00 Bored to Death: Lubbock

6:30 Our Greatest American Heroes: Cayleb Jones, wide receiver, Austin High School

7:00 Around the Longhorn: Panel of ESPN journalists discuss how Texas has the world’s greatest football program. The least enthusiastic gets fired

7:30 Did you know Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley were roommates? (Hosted by Brent Musburger)

8:00 Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Live from College Station

8:30 Football’s Greatest Minds: 5. Parcells 4. Belichick 3. Walsh 2. Lombardi 1. Mack Brown

9:00 Replay of the 2006 Rose Bowl

11:00 Fair and Balanced: ESPN Investigative Journalism

11:01 Our Greatest American Heroes: Trey Williams, running back, Spring Dekaney High School

11:30 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: Bob Stoops, Gary Patterson, T. Boone Pickens, Jack Mildren

Noon Jersey Shore: Galveston: Sammi screams at Ronnie behind the oil refinery

12:30 The Complete Anthology of the last 20 Red River Shootouts (1991-92, 1994, 1997-1999, 2005-06, 2008-09 games only)

1:00 This is Your Life Tom Osborne: 2006 Nebraska Governor’s Race

1:30 Don’t Mess With Texas: Panel discussion on why you don’t mess with Texas

1:45 Leaders and Legends: You need an entire conference to have a network? How quaint

2:00 The Rick Barnes Show

2:01 The Mack Brown Show

4:00 Replay of the 2006 Rose Bowl

6:00 Our Greatest American Heroes: Jonathan Gray, running back, Aledo High School

6:30 Unsolved Mysteries: Wait, we let Cam Newton get out of Texas?

6:45 The Longhorn Network’s Sexiest Man Alive: Mack Brown

7:00 Today in Texas Women’s Sports

7:01 Today in Texas Football Recruiting

8:00 Last Comic Standing: Aggie Jokes

8:30 Weather Center: Do you realize how dang cold it gets in Norman?

9:00 Our Greatest American Heroes: Thomas Johnson, wide receiver, Dallas Skyline High School

9:30 Mad Men: I’m a Man! I’m 40! And other possibly mentally unstable people from Oklahoma

10:00 Mad Money II: Have we mentioned how much dang money this network is making us?

10:30 Can you believe the NCAA is going to allow us to show high school football games? Panel discussion on how great it is the NCAA is going to allow us to show high school football games.

11:00 The UT Cheerleaders: Mississippi State ain’t got nothin’ on us

11:30 Replay of the 2006 Rose Bowl

Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports national columnist.

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots don’t need Randy Moss –- their offense got better without him this season, a testament to the negatives he can bring to the table.

They do need someone like him though, a true deep threat, preferably with size, who can make both difficult catches and game-breaking plays.

Perhaps the most pertinent question for the Patriots in the wake of their stunning 28-21 playoff loss Sunday to the New York Jets shouldn’t be how did their powerhouse offense get stopped, but how did it get started in the first place?

How did it average over 37 points a game over the last eight weeks of season and run up the seventh highest scoring total for a season in NFL history when their receiving corps features 5-8 Deion Branch, 5-7 Wes Welker, three tight ends (including two rookies) and 5-7 utility back Danny Woodhead?

The most applicable answer is Tom Brady, of course.

It was an interesting story that the Patriots could survive the loss of Moss, one of the most gifted receivers ever, and thrive. It was nice that they could do it with these undersized, oft-doubted players. They are good players, no question.

Against the Jets though they needed a superstar and there wasn’t one to be found. The Jets attacked the smallish Pats and the wheels came off.

“The whole point ... was to make sure that we got out hands on them (and were) physical with the guys,” said Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie. “When we play our game on the outside, it makes things very difficult for the quarterback with the timing routes and the things that he does.”

Where the Jets got big-time TD receptions from Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards, Brady rarely threw deep and was forced to check down on most throws, even during a time draining fourth quarter drive. Catchable balls were dropped by Branch, Welker and tight end Alge Crumpler (in the end zone).

On Sunday, New England just didn’t have the weapons.

In addition to various options through free agency or a trade, New England owns two first-round (17 and 28), two second-round and two third-round picks, giving it plenty of opportunity to draft a play maker. It can wait for a player to fall to their slot, or package and even move up to highly regarded players such as A.J. Green of Georgia and Julio Jones of Alabama.

It’s stockpiled picks to make a major push this off-season. It needs to use some of those assets on a go-to outside receiver that Brady can lean on for the rest of his career.

Brady was brilliant during the regular season despite lacking that great talent to work with. Moss brought negatives to the table (hence his departure) but his ability to take the top off a defense was unquestioned. While a vertical attack using promising young tight ends worked during the regular season, it all came apart on an elite defense like the Jets.

In some ways, the 14-2 record was a bit of a mirage, New England arriving a bit ahead of schedule. The Patriots played smart, effective and efficient football. That’s to be commended.

At some point though, you need a stud that can go make plays.

Welker and Woodhead and the others are terrific players. Game breakers they aren’t.

It’s time for New England to go get one, adding the final piece to an already impressive offense.

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Stanford football claims one national title –- in 1926 under the leadership of Pop Warner. It’s had its moments in the ensuing decades: sporadic top 10 finishes while churning out some great players (John Elway, Jim Plunkett).

That said, it’s still most famous for a game when their trombone player got laid out in the end zone.

So these are uncharted waters for Stanford. The 12-1 Cardinal returns the best quarterback in the country in Andrew Luck, who turned down the No. 1 spot in the NFL draft to return to the Farm. It is a sure bet to be ranked in the preseason top 10 (or better). It boasts a favorable schedule –- Oregon, Cal, Washington and Notre Dame are all at home.

It all adds up to a once in a, well, century (?) shot at a national title.

Except for one problem, coach Jim Harbaugh, the architect, brains and driving force behind this

transformation left to coach the San Francisco 49ers.

So Stanford did the predictably smart thing Thursday when it promoted offensive coordinator David Shaw to head coach. Absent landing a dream candidate such as Boise State’s Chris Petersen, who again declined to leave his blue kingdom, the proper decision was to hire from within.

You want everything to remain as consistent as possible. You want Luck to thrive as best he can. You want to keep as much of the touted recruiting class (current rank: 13th) as possible.

When you finally have things going in the championship direction, you don’t change course and bring in an outside perspective, a new way of doing things.

Is Shaw, who has no experience as a head coach, the best candidate for the long-term? Who knows? And, at this point, who cares?

If a school was ever going to be short-sighted, it’s Stanford heading into the 2011 season.

This isn’t Alabama or Florida or Oklahoma. You’ve got one shot here. Don’t screw it up. Go all in. Try to ride the wave to a rare chance at everything.

“David has made a substantial contribution to the recent success of our program and our team has great confidence in him,” athletics director Bob Bowsley said.

And yes, that was probably enough.

Shaw, a 38-year old former Stanford wide receiver, may turn out to be the long-term solution.

He spent nine years as a NFL assistant. He’s been working under Harbaugh, a master motivator and tactician, since 2006 when they were both at the University of San Diego. As an offensive coordinator, Stanford averaged 40.3 points a game last year. Shaw has shown the work ethic and personality to recruit well nationally, where he’s often been the point man.

Not a bad resume. And none of that was the point today.

He’s the closest Stanford can get to Harbaugh for the immediate future. With Andrew Luck, a sweet schedule and a ton of momentum all heading into next fall, that had to be the biggest concern of this job search.

This isn’t the time to change a thing; Stanford might actually have its Ducks in a row.

-- Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports national columnist.

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Supposedly the first thing Brady Hoke, new Michigan football coach, has to do is heal the wounds of a fractured fan base, some of whom wanted someone else to be the new Michigan football coach.

To those wounded, fractured souls he ought to just say, “Get over yourself.”

If you’re a true fan, then you should pull for the new Michigan man and not beg for outreach because you believe your preferred hypothetical candidate could have hypothetically done a better hypothetical job.

Understandably college football is a game based on perception – the BCS – but does it have to descend all the way to the hiring process and the constant spin of message boards and Twitter?

Brady Hoke is a pretty strong football coach, according to those that know him and his career intimately. That includes Lloyd Carr and Charles Woodson and Braylon Edwards and Mike Hart and a bunch of other Wolverines. It stands to reason it even would've included Bo.

Hoke led moribund San Diego State to nine wins this season. He previously put together a 12-0 season at Ball State. He has eight years of head coaching experience and seven working the sidelines in Ann Arbor, where he was an assistant under Carr.

No, he isn’t the slam dunk choice of Jim Harbaugh, but Michigan wasn’t his slam dunk choice either. The hiring of Les Miles was probably never going to happen and whether that would’ve been successful anyway is just as debatable as this.

Hoke isn’t the hot coach of the day, but Michigan’s last hire, Rich Rodriguez, was. That’s how these things go. No one knows who is best for a job; all you can do is guess. Sometimes good coaches and good programs don’t work. Sometimes they do. Sometimes it’s better to get a guy who’s dealt with some tough times because experience helps.

Jim Tressel was Ohio State’s third or fourth choice out of I-AA Youngstown State, Buckeye fans panicked that he wouldn’t be ready for the big-time. USC wanted nothing to do with Pete Carroll, fired NFL guy with virtually no NCAA experience, until everyone else said no. Bob Stoops was a mostly anonymous assistant. Chip Kelly too. Frank Beamer was a guy coming off consecutive seven-win seasons at Murray State when Va Tech took him.

Auburn’s Gene Chizik had just finished up a 2-10 campaign at Iowa State when Auburn hired him. He got booed getting off the plane. On Monday, just two years later, he held up the BCS trophy.

The coaching carousel is a fun parlor (or message board) game. Everyone can have an opinion. Everyone can have a choice. There’s a point when it goes too far, when fans actually feel they need to be courted by the new hire because they thought Chris Petersen could be lured out of Boise (he can’t) or in the one SDSU game they saw this year, the offense didn’t look sharp.

Hoke’s biggest hurdle is that he isn’t all that well known. They didn’t gush about him on ESPN all season, although his Aztecs were primed to be a break-out team next year.

Here’s something to consider: You know that TCU defense that shut down Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl? SDSU scored 35 on them (albeit in a 40-35 loss). TCU’s other 12 victims’ averaged 10 points a game.

Hoke is 52 years old and hails from Ohio. He played linebacker at Ball State. He’s a self-made man, grinding his way up the coaching ranks. He took bad jobs and developed good teams. He’s always professed the same final dream – head coach at the University of Michigan.

Now he’s got it. The fans and egomaniac boosters ought to be the least of his concerns. Let him worry about winning over Denard Robinson and salvaging what he can from a recruiting class that is in tatters. You want to blame someone; blame AD David Brandon for not making this hire in early December, when Hoke could’ve hit the ground running. Waiting on Harbaugh proved foolish.

None of that is Hoke’s fault and if he's the proper hire, then he should be able to overcome it.

He’s a tireless worker, a people person and a strong motivator. He is expected to focus his recruiting back on the bedrock Wolverine areas – in state, Ohio, Chicagoland. He’s always had ties to California and those have only gotten stronger.

You don’t win at Michigan with flash and sizzle. You win at Michigan because the pure might of the program can overwhelm just about any competition. It’s still home to the biggest stadium and the best fight song (unless you prefer Notre Dame) and the cool helmet and the endless television exposure.

Other than Ohio State, you have to travel a long way for another program that can match Michigan’s advantages. Rodriguez’s fatal mistake, it seems, was trying to fix something that wasn’t all that broken.

Get back to the basics and Michigan will be fine. Stop losing recruits from Detroit to Michigan State is a start. Return to dragging stars out of northeast Ohio is next. Playing smart football and teaching guys to tackle will go a long way.

You may not win a bunch of BCS titles, but who outside the SEC does?

This is still Michigan; in Big Ten terms you have to screw it up to be bad. The league competition is stiffer now – Mark Dantonio is entrenched up the road – but it’s not insurmountable.

If nothing else, I suspect that’s what Brady Hoke understands about the job.

No, he isn’t Jim Harbaugh, but Michigan isn’t the 49ers. He isn’t a flashy and oft-repeated name, but after the press conference is that really important?

Brady Hoke is everything else Michigan can hope for and really, no matter who you hire, history has shown and shown and shown, that’s all these coaching changes are about.


-- Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports national columnist.

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So we started a magazine, ThePostGame. Only you can’t find it at a magazine stand. Tricky, I know.

This is my corner of said magazine, which should allow me the freedom to write, speak and generally communicate without the limitations of a standard sports column, which I’ve written for Yahoo! Sports since August of 2003 and will continue as usual.

I’m not sure exactly what this page will entail. They’ll be some shorter writings, some blogging, some links, Twitter and the rest. I’m planning on a fairly regular podcast feature: “The Five-Minute Podcast” that will be topical and entertaining. Or that’s the hope.

Some stuff will be longer. Some shorter. I’m working on producing some recurring video show ideas and an open to others. I may allow some guest writing. Mostly this can serve as a place to tell stories big and small.

I’ve written features, columns, gamers, investigative stories, breaking news. books, screenplays and even the back of a few Wheaties Boxes through the years. What’s another outlet?

The internet changes rapidly, something new every year. You can never do your job the same way you did it 12 months (or even 6 months) prior. So this is the new next thing for Yahoo! Sports. And for me.

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