Why Cam Newton got my vote for the Heisman Trophy

In our post-game of the SEC championship Saturday night, my CBS colleague Tim Brando said that his Heisman vote was going to Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton. He said he was casting the vote “reluctantly” because he wished he knew more facts about the controversial case involving Newton’s father, Cecil, and the extent to which the father may have solicited money in the son’s recruitment.

I’ve read others who have written that they won’t vote for Newton because the father, according to the NCAA, had committed a rules violation by discussing a play-for-pay deal for the son. The NCAA  ultimately decided that the violation did not rise to the level of suspending Cam Newton. A lot of people, including four BCS conference commissioners (ACC, Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12) publicly expressed disagreement with that ruling. SEC commissioner Mike Slive and incoming NCAA President Mark Emmert have defended the ruling based on the evidence and based on the the NCAA rules, which don’t have a by-law to address this specific case. We can safely say that one will be written in the future.

I respect those people who disagree with the ruling. But if they believe that Newton is the best player in college football this season–and at this point there is little debate on that–I would hope that they obstained from voting as their form of protest. Because if you feel Newton is the best player and you vote for somebody else because of how this case FEELS, that is not fair to the kid or fair to the process.

Now do I wish I knew more? Do I wish all of my questions had been answered? Sure. There is an uncomfortable feeling that more information could come out down the road on this case. Based on what the NCAA said last week this case is still open. Could we still have a Reggie Bush situation? It’s possible.

But I just don’t think we get to make decisions of these kinds based on our FEELINGS. Or at least we shouldn’t. We have to base them on FACTS. And the facts are that the NCAA has looked into this case and determined that Cameron Newton had no knowledge of what his father was doing and that Auburn University, where the son attends school, also had no knowledge of or participated in such talks. You can chose not to believe those findings. That is certainly your right. A year or two from now you could be proven right.

But which is worse:

A) Giving Newton the trophy and then having to take it back when the facts on the ground change? Or

B) Punishing him before all the facts are determined only to discover there is no evidence of cheating? You can go back and say you’re sorry but what good does that do?

I’ll take column A. It won’t be any fun going through another Heisman giveback if it happens. But at least there was a process that had to be followed. If that happens, as embarrassing as it would be, at least the decision was based on facts instead of how people felt about the process.

A guy came up to me the other day and told me he couldn’t vote for Newton because “I know what the facts say but it just LOOKS bad!”

I told him this was not “Dancing With The Stars” where you can vote against Bristol Palin because you don’t like her mother’s politics. Please tell me that the discourse on college football’s biggest award is being conducted on a higher level.

Anway, here is my Heisman ballot, submitted on Sunday:

1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn:  The first player in SEC history to rush for over 1,000 yards (1,409) and pass for over 2,000 yards (3,998). He ran for 20 touchdowns and threw for 28 more. He even caught a touchdown pass.

2. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon: Led the nation in rushing with 1,682 yards (152.91 ypg) despite missing one game on suspension. He scored 21 touchdowns rushing.

3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Completed  71.01 percent of his passes for 3,506 yards, 33 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Last season Moore threw 39 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. In three years Moore is 38-2 as Boise’s starting quarterback.

The Heisman ballot only has three slots but here are four more I would have added:

4. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech: Taylor has been magnificent this season and if the Hokies had not started 0-2 he would have gotten stronger consideration for the Heisman. Taylor threw for 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions and was the driving force behind Virginia Tech’s 11-game winning streak.

5. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: This guy is a freak of nature just like Calvin Johnson was for Georgia Tech. He had 102 catches for 1,665 yards and 18 touchdowns. He led Division I-A  in receptions per game (9.27) and receiving yards per game (151.36).

6. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: This guy will be the No. 1 quarterback  taken in the NFL Draft. He led the Pac-10 in total offense with 438 yards rushing and 3,051 passing. He averaged 8.72 per offensive play. He’s a big reason Stanford is 11-1 and going to the Orange Bowl.

7. Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada: He is the West Coast version of Cam Newton. Kaepernick was No. 9 in the nation in total offense with 1,184 rushing and another 2,830 passing. He ran for 20 touchdowns and passed for 21 more.

So who did I leave out?

Have a good weekend.

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975 comments Add your comment

Erked Russell

December 10th, 2010
7:52 am

second

December 10th, 2010
7:53 am

Erked Russell

December 10th, 2010
7:53 am

If you think he didn’t get paid to go to Awwburn you are crazy

B

December 10th, 2010
7:57 am

How about Tom Brady? He’s had a great year and if we’re opening it up to paid athletes, he deserves consideration.

SEC fan

December 10th, 2010
7:58 am

Another sports writer in Florida said he is not voting for Cam based on an integrity clause the Heisman Trust installed after the Reggie Bush fiasco. So I guess a voter can vote on something other than FACTS. Tony, get your FACTS right.

Hackjob

December 10th, 2010
7:59 am

Erked, it’s good to know that you’re smarter and more well-informed than the NCAA and the SEC and the Auburn enforcement staff.

EW

December 10th, 2010
7:59 am

You meant ABSTAIN, not OBSTAIN

Paul

December 10th, 2010
7:59 am

For me — the smell is just too strong to tolerate. Voters are supposed to use judgment, their own too, not just the NCAAs. I’d go to Kaepernick, although the others are good candidates.

jacked jacket

December 10th, 2010
8:00 am

SO CLOSE but 7th!!!!!!!!!!!!

heyberto

December 10th, 2010
8:02 am

I guess the Heisman is fine if the part mentioned in the criteria for the award about ‘character’ doesn’t count. Forget Cecil’s shopping his son around, and how his son has defended him.. saying he knew ‘nothing’ yet knows his father has his best interests at heart… just look at his Shenanigans at Florida.. is that the kind of character that a Heisman winner should display? On the field, of course he deserves it.. but its incredible how quickly the voters seem to be dismissing the whole character issue on this one. I’m disappointed in you Tony.

Urban Meyer

December 10th, 2010
8:03 am

I voted for Chris Rainey.

dawghuff

December 10th, 2010
8:05 am

When you give you vote to a cheater, it takes away a trophy from someone who deserves it. Cam is a liar. Plain and simple. He lied abot the laptop, he’s lying about taking the money.

Top Dawg

December 10th, 2010
8:06 am

I think Aaron Murray should get it. Just how bad would my Dawgs have been if he hadn’t played so well? It’s supposed to go to the best player, but also to the one that improves his team. Murray did that. Go Dawgs!!

SimpleDawg

December 10th, 2010
8:07 am

Obstain is when you stubbornly refuse to vote or give an opinion.

slippery slope

December 10th, 2010
8:08 am

`
Cam was a little ‘rude’ to Mr. Hugh Green on stage last night.

BuckBlue

December 10th, 2010
8:09 am

Did you vote for Reggie Bush when he won?

Randy

December 10th, 2010
8:09 am

Sort of like a murderer who gets away on a technicality. He’s guilty but the processing of information got screwed up.

tom

December 10th, 2010
8:09 am

Kellen Moore’s performance last season should not enter in this years nomination. The award is about this season only. I agree with all other comments you made. Those who vote against Cam because of the allegations are short sited and don’t deserve to have a vote. I recognize your comment on Moore was about adding more people to the contest.

mhk

December 10th, 2010
8:10 am

Agreed. Cameron is easily the best player in college football this year. I also feel strongly that the rule, as it currently stands, should not inhibit Cam from winning the Heisman.

JDW

December 10th, 2010
8:10 am

Cam is a young guy and it is possible that he can straighten himself out in the future. But facts are facts, he is an admitted cheat and thief. It got him expelled form FL and now we have this cloud of doubt hanging over him. Letting him play and giving him awards under these circumstances does nothing but make him feel bulletproof in the mold of Bush, Vick et al

ARdawg

December 10th, 2010
8:11 am

Tony Barnhart is a Gomer

SimpleDawg

December 10th, 2010
8:11 am

There are more worthy candidates for the Heisman this year than in other year that I can remember.

Scam-son wins in a landslide. Scam-Daddy is already working on NFL contract……and what his take will be.

Awbarn hammers the Ducks.

SEC_Analyst

December 10th, 2010
8:11 am

Tony,

I wish that you knew more also. I wish that you knew basic spelling and grammar.

That said, you almost got one thing right — in your last paragraph. Dancing With the Stars is the perfect analogy for this year’s Heisman Trophy Award. College Football has been turned into a bad joke, and you seem to revel in your role as a court jester.

SimpleDawg

December 10th, 2010
8:12 am

Randy….kinda like OJ.

KidRay

December 10th, 2010
8:12 am

Newton, Luck, Moore, James, Blackmon.

James is a system rb, just like all those Hawaii/TxTech qbs.

UgaLeeDawg

December 10th, 2010
8:15 am

Ok here is the stat that tells. Cam Newton threw for more yards than your top QB and almost outrushed the top RB on your list. Holy hell man! I think they should give him the trophy and start giving away the Newton trophy next year. I think he is a crook and dirty but he is a talented dirty crook….Just wow!

Dawg_Mike

December 10th, 2010
8:17 am

$cam said it was a “private” matter. There. That settles it.

SEC_Analyst

December 10th, 2010
8:18 am

I agree with a suggestion made on yesterday’s blog. Cam Newton should receive the Heisman Trophy that Reggie Bush returned.

Dawg_Mike

December 10th, 2010
8:19 am

He looked good, he sounded good- the only thing missing was the Eldrick Woods line- ” that’s private”

rincon dog

December 10th, 2010
8:19 am

James has had his run in with the law as well. The heisman winners are the ones who should have this vote, not some hack journalist trying to put himself in the story when it should be about the players.

S GA AUFAN

December 10th, 2010
8:20 am

I say it’s great to be an Auburn Tiger!

Camp, Obrien, Maxwell, Lombardi, Home Depot Coach of the Year and maybe a Heisman … go Tigers!

http://auburntigers.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/120810aaf.html

ATL is TigerTown

December 10th, 2010
8:20 am

I have very little interest in the opinions on character from someone who doesn’t appear to have any, based on the comments being made here. You don’t know Cam Newton. You have no idea what his character is. Most of what I’ve read and seen about Cam Newton would indicate that his character is above reproach and that he is a very solid citizen.
It seems pretty clear to me that the vast majority of you ‘extremely intelligent gentlemen’ who choose to beleive the worst are supporters of teams who’ve been demolished by Cam and his Auburn team mates. That’s pretty base and very pedestrian. And it speaks volumes about your own character. Cam’s a hometown boy. He deserves some respect and support no matter what team he plays for. What if he were your kid? You people are disgusting.
Tony got it right and all your whining and complaining won’t change that. I’m confident that Auburn and Cam Newton will come out of all this unscathed. Ever hear the phrase “innocent until PROVEN guilty”?
In the mean time, It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger. War Damn Eagle!
Have a nice day.

SEC_Analyst

December 10th, 2010
8:22 am

ATL is Tiger*Town

Pat Haden

December 10th, 2010
8:22 am

Shame on you, Mr. CFB.

slippery slope

December 10th, 2010
8:23 am

College Football’s biggest award
is getting less BIG every year.

John

December 10th, 2010
8:23 am

Tony,
What about the Heisman’s mission that states, “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”

Slippery Slope !!

December 10th, 2010
8:25 am

Please, anyone give me thoughts on this………

NCAA got it wrong. I personally dont believe that a Cam had no idea about the money. Fathers and sons going through such a process are generally very, very close to one another. I just dont buy it.

Heres the deal. The NCAA has created a slippery slope. Now, family members of big time recruits may solicite those recruits for money, and as long as the NCAA cant “prove” the player knew about it, it goes unpunished. I can see it now. Family member solicites recruit, puts money in an account, and win the player is finished with college football, the money is there. Not all big name recruits go to the NFL, so as an incoming freshman, having 200k set aside when you quit, retire from injury, or graduate, would be nice.

Cam stole a laptop. Cheated twice on exams. Sorry , but its hard for me to give him the benefit of the doubt. Im not a AU hater, but having practiced law for over a decade now, my instincts tell meits a scam.

RxDawg

December 10th, 2010
8:25 am

I saw his interview yesterday. He dances around questions and refuses to flat out deny things. They are GUILTY. The whole dang world knows it. The SEC coaches know it and that’s why they voted in Spurrier as the coach of the year (ya know, rather than a 2nd year coach leading his team to an undefeated national championship). This season was such a terrible joke it wouldn’t surprise me if the popularity and ratings of college football drop off next year.

DirkDawggler

December 10th, 2010
8:26 am

Who cares anymore? The Heisman Trophy is the most politicized award out there. I guess no one learned from the Reggie Bush experience.

Newton’s Heisman will eventually be stripped anyway, thus devaluing the award for future recipients.

Here’s a question for you, Tony: Do you honestly believe Cam Newton did not know that Cecil was shopping him? Inquiring minds want to know…

VDawg

December 10th, 2010
8:26 am

In the Mission statement for the Heisman it states it “recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.” Now, as a die hard DAWG I tell you Tim Tebow is the Epitome of this mission statement. Cam Newton, through his scanal filled career in CF does not come close. Excellence on the feild – well hell yea he’s a baller! Does he carry, has he carried himself with integrity? No sir he hasn’t. Unfortunate because he is a hell of a player, but fact is he does not represent what this award recognizes. Do I think he got paid at Auburn? Not realy. Do I think he is aware of what his father was up to? Hell yes.

GTPhenom2

December 10th, 2010
8:27 am

I am pleased to say Joshua the Robot Nesbott!

SOGADOG

December 10th, 2010
8:28 am

It is a fact that Cam’s father Cecil solicited money from Miss State for his son’s commitment; that alone should preclude Cam from receiving this award. There have been no consequences to Cecil Newton’s conduct and therefore other parents, relatives and friends of recruiting prospects wont be deterred from soliciting money from schools in exchange for commitments and then claiming the prospect didnt know about the solicitation. Giving Cam the Heisman trophy rewards bad behavior and sends the message that what Cecil did is OK.

Slippery Slope !!

December 10th, 2010
8:29 am

RX Dawg…… I agree %100. Whats going to happen when evidence surfaces. Will it be disclosed or will the NCAA sweep it under the rug???

Its not just about Cam, letting Cam play has vritually taken away an opportunity from another school and all their players who perhaps followed the law. NCAA cant afford another Reggie Bush ordeal.

SEC_Analyst

December 10th, 2010
8:29 am

John,

Integrity is a fine ideal, but there are times when integrity has to take a back-seat to league profitability. Think of all of the people like Tony, Mike Slive, Paul Finebaum and Colin Cowherd that might actually have to work for a living if this cash cow should be allowed to dry up.

VOLinATL

December 10th, 2010
8:29 am

The Heisman lost any validity when they voted for Charles Woodson over Peyton Manning in 1997. Face it; it has about the same creditability of the voting as “Dancing with the Stars”. It is a farce.

Georgia

December 10th, 2010
8:30 am

because you are stupid

Slippery Slope !!

December 10th, 2010
8:31 am

Why has no one explained why he was originally rule inelligible???

Get Real

December 10th, 2010
8:33 am

Dead wrong on this one TB – here is the Heisman Trust Mission Statement:

The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and integrity of this award. The Trust, furthermore, has a charitable mission to support amateur athletics and to provide greater opportunities to the youth of our country. Our goal through these charitable endeavors is for the Heisman Trophy to symbolize the fostering of a sense of community responsibility and service to our youth, especially those disadvantaged or afflicted. All assets of the Trust beyond the expense of maintaining the annual presentation of the Heisman Memorial Trophy are reserved for such charitable causes. The Trustees, who all serve pro bono, are guided by a devotion to college football and are committed to community service and the valued tradition which the Trophy represents.

It’s not about what only happens on the field. Heisman selection process is not a trial where only the facts are considered. Integrity is subjective by its nature which is why all the commentary on Cam passing the smell test – he does not.

duke

December 10th, 2010
8:34 am

i think kellen moore should get it

PMC

December 10th, 2010
8:36 am

It’s not your job as a voter to investigate cases. Judging from the eligible people right now Cam Newton was the obvious choice this season. I don’t see how you could have voted otherwise Tony.