Now Auburn's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback can't escape attention, for good and bad. Questions about Newton never seem to vanish, despite his exploits on the field -- and they are impressive.
Newton's got the top-ranked Tigers a win over No. 2 Oregon away from their first national title since 1957 -- and his third in a row.
Three schools, three vastly different situations and, maybe, three national titles.
"There's one common denominator: That's him," said Ronny Feldman, Newton's offensive coordinator and position coach at Blinn. "He's got 'It.' "
This time around, Newton has the chance to power a team to victory on college football's biggest stage.
No comparison between this and sporting a ballcap on the sideline, like he did while Tim Tebow guided the Gators to glory to cap the 2008 season.
Or winning at Blinn, where few were watching the junior college championship.
Asked Wednesday about the biggest difference between the BCS and JUCO title games, Newton waved a hand at the dozens of cameras and reporters taking in his every word. "This," he said.
"I mean, I probably had two people interviewing me after the (JUCO) game about how I felt," he said. "But this is before the game and this is what I get. So this is a big difference."
The junior offered scant insight into whether he'll head to the NFL after the season, or into how he dealt with the relentless scrutiny over the past two months from a failed pay-for-play deal led by his father, Cecil, during Newton's recruitment by Mississippi State.
Newton said his father -- after skipping the Heisman ceremony and being restricted to limited access to the athletic program -- will be coming to the BCS game Monday night. His family members from Georgia "are going to be loud and proud."