Controversy be damned, Auburn’s Cameron Newton won the 2010 Heisman Trophy by a landslide. And them folks are still hating on his athletic excellence.
Auburn’s controversial star quarterback won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide vote Saturday night. He was just too good to resist, so good, in fact, he turned three other deserving finalists – Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Oregon running back LaMichael James and Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore – into witnesses of his coronation at the Best Buy Theatre in Times Square.
Newton was listed first on 729 ballots – 93% – and had 2,263 points, finishing far ahead of Luck, who finished with 78 first-place votes and 1,079 points.
After his name was announced, Newton went over and hugged his mother Jackie, his two brothers and Auburn coach Gene Chizik. He thanked both of his parents. “My parents do a lot of things behind the scenes that go unnoticed,” he said, committing a Freudian slip.
The Tigers’ immensely talented, 6-6, 250-pound junior won by a huge margin despite an NCAA investigation that determined his father Cecil had solicited money through a third party from Mississippi State in a failed pay-for-play scheme when Newton was being recruited out of junior college last year. Even though the NCAA ruled neither Newton nor Auburn had any knowledge of his father’s dealings, that clouded the issue and brought back painful memories of USC’s Reggie Bush returning his 2005 Heisman Trophy last summer after the NCAA determined he was ineligible that season because his parents had received free rent on a house and a car from two L.A. sports agents seeking to sign their son. Once burned, twice wary.
Some 105 Heisman voters omitted Newton from their ballots completely, making the argument that he failed to meet the standards of the Heisman Trophy’s mission statement – a pursuit of excellence with integrity – and pointing to past character flaws that occurred during the two years Newton spent at Florida. While in Gainesville, Newton was arrested for the theft of a laptop computer and faced a student judiciary hearing after he was caught cheating on at least two occasions.
When honoring a student-athlete, sportsmanship is usually part of the equation. Purists would love to see a World War II military hero such as the late Nile Kinnick of Iowa or the son of a missionary, Tim Tebow of Florida, trot up to the stage every year. That would be nice, but it may no longer be realistic.
Three of the past six Heisman winners – Bush, Troy Smith of Ohio State in 2006 and Newton – have been investigated for soliciting or receiving money from boosters or agents. Maybe Newton is the new norm.
Newton wasn’t selected to the Football Writers Association of America’s All-America team released Saturday. But the Heisman ballots indicate a majority of voters today view this as an award given to the best college football player by an independent club, not the NCAA. Newton, who accounted for 49 TDs during a 13-0 season that culminated with an SEC championship and a berth in the BCS title game, is the best player I’ve seen since Georgia running back Herschel Walker, who won in 1982.
After Auburn initially ruled him ineligible, Newton was ruled eligible by the NCAA without conditions; so he meets the standards, even though that ruling by the reinstatement committee does nothing to establish his guilt or innocence.
Let that boy live man, dayum!