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

wtf?!?!?!?!?

December 10th, 2010
10:30 am

No, you are missing the point. Lying about how “under the radar” Cam was is laughable. He was probably the most hyped JUCO player in history. So stop denying the obvious. And as someone previously said, the NCAA didn’t decide to lift a finger regarding Cam until October.

Happy Dicks

December 10th, 2010
10:30 am

Lewis Grizzard rolled over three times when he read the trash which you have just written, Tony! Character is not stealing a computer, not deceiving the police, not cheating on your tests, and not lying to investigators. The story changed, he went from his father deciding where he went, to I did nothing wrong. The Grady School of Journalism taught you better than that. Face it Tony, you just aren’t that good.

Strange goings-on

December 10th, 2010
10:30 am

I agree completely with heyberto. Integrity and character are supposed to be taken into consideration with voting for a Heisman winner, not just athletic ability. I’m disappointed in you, Tony, and have been on several occasions lately. Where’s your character???

Joe Bob Thibodaux

December 10th, 2010
10:31 am

Mothers Against Stolen Laptops

December 10th, 2010
10:29 am
Joe Bob Thibodaux

There’s no sour grapes
We kicked him off the team
We don’t like to play grab arse like you swamp folk

Haa ! Haa! Haa!

I suppose you like yours more like in the movie Deliverance.

Haa Haa Haaa

Antoine Dotson

December 10th, 2010
10:31 am

Hide Yo Kids
Hide Yo Wife
Cause Zack be comin’ to the toothless swamp

Skitty Fritty

December 10th, 2010
10:32 am

What happened to something being legal but not ethical? I saw part of Cam’s interview last night and he sure seems pretty close to his Dad but yet he knew nothing about the pay for play issue.

One simple question I would like to hear Cam answer directly. Why did he pick Auburn over MSU or why did his Dad pick Auburn over MSU? I think this would clear thing up pretty quickly. Cam even stated last night he called Dan Mullin directly and told him the decision but I thought it was his Father’s decision.

I know AU fans want to believe Cam’s story but I find it hard to believe.

Antoine Dotson

December 10th, 2010
10:33 am

Joe Bob Douchido

Your comedic genius is unprecedented
You should really go on tour

bawahahahaha!!!!

December 10th, 2010
10:33 am

#2 dual threat QB in the nation coming out of high school, getting a full ride to play at the most sought after program in the country who is coming off a national title and “no one knows who he is?!?!?!”

You must be an Auburn student that is interning at some low-rate homer Tiger site. I hope they are paying you good for this embarrassment.

BAMA dude

December 10th, 2010
10:34 am

One simple question I would like to hear Cam answer directly. Why did he pick Auburn over MSU or why did his Dad pick Auburn over MSU? I think this would clear thing up pretty quickly.

You really think the NCAA investigators didn’t ask him that? Nobody owes the general public a thing when it comes to allegations like this.

Miles

December 10th, 2010
10:34 am

Mr. Barnhart, what is the criteria for the Heisman Trophy? Where can I find the exact wording that specifies what things are to be taken into consideration when voting for the Heisman Trophy? I’ve heard the terms “outstanding player,” “NCAA eligible,” etc. From where do these notions eminate? Are they legitimate?

Again, please direct me to the correct definition/specifications for the Heisman Trophy.

Thank you.

Jeff

December 10th, 2010
10:35 am

He gave his father full control over deciding where he is going to go to college (how studious of him) and yet there are people on here still trying to say that Cam was left in the dark???

Richard Pryor said it best

December 10th, 2010
10:36 am

Stand up comic LEGEND Richard Pryor used to do a skit where a guy was walking down the street with a TV and a microwave oven on his person. The cops stop him. The alarm at the community appliance store is sounding off. There is a store front broken window. The cops asks where he got the appliances at 2 AM.

Pryor stammering and shaking says “he found them” ……………….. yeah, AU and SCAM and MSU are all clean in this saga. Yeah right.

Time will tell and I suspect AU will pay a heavy price if only in SHAME and HUMILIATION for their otherwise fine school and fine program.

We all know that the US gov’s encouraging and guaranteeing home mortgages for deadbeats 100% got us in this economic mess. AU just did a subprime deal with Scam and his pa only to win at any cost. Obama would be very proud of Auburn ……………..very proud.

BAMA dude

December 10th, 2010
10:36 am

Jeff, I don’t think he was in the dark either, but you have to prove him a liar. Suspecting it simply isn’t enough to punish him and I for one am glad it’s not.

Joe Bob Thibodaux

December 10th, 2010
10:37 am

Antoine Dotson

December 10th, 2010
10:33 am
Joe Bob Douchido

Your comedic genius is unprecedented
You should really go on tour

Haa! Haa! Haa!

You pecker woods started this stuff. If you can’t take it
then don’t try to dish it out.

Haaa! Haaa! Haaaa!

You are funny.

Haaaaa! Haa!
Ha!

jack bull

December 10th, 2010
10:37 am

because he’s the best paid college player in the country? is that why he got your vote?………nobody has ever doubted that. he is the best..

it’s kinda like a getting a big bonus check, ‘come here, you’ll get a FREE education from a major university plus we’ll throw in an extra 200k’….

Daniel

December 10th, 2010
10:38 am

@Mothers against Stolen Laptops

Yeah, with 13 arrests this year, and winning the Fulmer Cup Award again, and going an impressive 6-6..yeah you guys dont have time for grab arsing!!! WHat a joke…you GA fans kill me. So damn dilusional.

To all the holier than thou bloggers on here. Since when did you have to be flawless to live life? Let alone play sports? Get real people!

axel

December 10th, 2010
10:38 am

Skitty Fritty,

No, Auburn fans care nothing about Cam’s story being true or not. They only hope Auburn and Lowder covered all their bases and hid their bread trail.

Strange goings-on

December 10th, 2010
10:38 am

Would someone please tell me if Cam’s dad was on the sidelines at the AU / SC game Saturday night? Cam kept hugging some man with glasses who resembles hid dad when he came off the field during the game. I thought his dad wasn’t supposed to have that much contact with the team.

pates

December 10th, 2010
10:39 am

Daniel,

No one said anything about being “flawless.” This is about corruption and violations.

social circle dawg

December 10th, 2010
10:40 am

You have lost quite a bit of respect from your readers this year Tony. Some of your columns/opinions this year have been…well, not so good.

How2fish

December 10th, 2010
10:41 am

BAMA dude pay for play is against the rules..so your peddling something that is also illegal.Its a moot point at this point as the SEC and NCAA have ruled they don’t care about their own rules…

AU WDE

December 10th, 2010
10:42 am

Man Tony you sure know how to stir things up! Cam Newton could have been the Pope and this audience would still want Aaron Murray or AJ Green. UGA fans should really take a close look at their own program before casting dispersions on the AU or any other program. I have some friends that are DAWG fans that are smart enough to realize what goes on behind the scenes in big time football. Wake up you bunch of Jackwagons or head on over to Mamby Pamby land for some common sense. It was a friendly rivalry when you guys beat AU; however, when we win we are dirty low down cheaters. Good grief, you guys whine about everything.

BAMA dude

December 10th, 2010
10:42 am

In fact, one more thing and I’m done with the legal junk, the spirit of the “agrees to receive” rule was to allow punishment of handshake agreements in case they are uncovered before money actually changes hands. For example, let’s say the NCAA were able to prove that Cecil had found a source of funds at MSU, the deal was done, and he was ready to deliver. All of a sudden the NCAA comes sniffing around and Cecil runs like the bandit to Auburn. In that case Cam would have been immediately declared ineligible. Rogers, Cecil, and Bell all say that nobody ever agreed to pony up. Cecil and Cam both say that Cam didn’t know what was up. Unless you have evidence you have to assume their statements to be true.

timthebrave

December 10th, 2010
10:42 am

I don’t need the proof to figure this one out. To me there are only 2 options

Cecil asked for money from Miss State. When he didn’t get he
1. Got scared and signed with Auburn legitimately
2. Auburn paid him the most

These are not viable options
1. My dad almost ruined my career but I didn’t know anything and don’t need to ask my dad anything
2. Cam is completely innocent on this

WDE

December 10th, 2010
10:42 am

I didn’t say no one knew who he was… but there was no reason to assume all the way back in July he would be the best player in all of college football, and to bank on it.

opie

December 10th, 2010
10:43 am

$cam is gone in exactly one month and Auburn will be left with the clean up duty of the path of destruction he will surely leave behind.

timthebrave

December 10th, 2010
10:46 am

Don’t make excuses for Cam. I never stole a laptop and never cheated in college. If my dad almost cost me my eligibility, heisman and millions you’re damn straight I would ask if it was true.

OldFan

December 10th, 2010
10:46 am

Lordy, Lordy, we’re awash in rectitude! Anyone who’s been near the backrooms of big time college football recruiting is laughing all the way to the next 5-star recruit. The only regret they have is that they didn’t sign Cam. Look at every instititution in the country that’s tied to big money, status, and celebrity–from mega-churches to Congress–and the best you can hope for is that the majority of folks involved just straddle the line of proprietary for a while before they cross over. This is not cynicism. It’s realism. Cam’s a tremendous athlete who surpassed the last “greatest ever”. Unless he has hundred dollar bills sticking out from under his helmet, there’s no way his story isn’t this year’s biggest wonder in college football. And the fact is, if he were wearing a different uniform, all the outrage and all the defenders would just shift schools. What hypocrisy.

wtf?!?!?!?!?

December 10th, 2010
10:46 am

Dude, seriously, you need to stop. I am feeling sorry for you now. You said no one outside of UF or Auburn probably didn’t know who he was!!!!!!! You are all over the place and do nothing but backtrack. Stick to one argument or throw in the towel.

RCB

December 10th, 2010
10:46 am

College football will be clearly defined at the Heisman ceremony. An athelete who says neither he nor his father has done anything wrong will be acknowledged to be the best student athelete this nation has to offer. The question is not whether proof beyond a reasonable doubt has been offered to show the son knew his father would try to obtain the money. The son now states unequivocally that he has never talked to his father about this subject. Really??? The son also states his father did nothing wrong. By voting for the son, you are saying right and wrong off the field are no longer relevant. The son knows this is true and is literally laughing at you all the way to the bank. There are simply too many dollars involved for you or anyone else to try and stop him. And now we all know it too.

Gator Mike

December 10th, 2010
10:46 am

I wonder who Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow voted for.
I certainly hope Newton is clean only for the sake of Auburn University.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

December 10th, 2010
10:47 am

WDE, and “bank on it” Auburn did.

WTF

December 10th, 2010
10:47 am

The Heisman is a joke – it is about the most popular quaterback or running back, not the best player in college football. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that Cam nor any of the other contenders would have been as successful without someone to block for them, catch their passes or if their teams didn’t but a defense on the field.

But have to agree – if you don’t have the facts to prove he did something wrong, how can you withold your vote based on conjecture and rumor.

A logical question

December 10th, 2010
10:48 am

Someone posted here that no one could have guaranteed Scam’s AU or MSU football success. Frankly, he could have broken an ankle in the spring game and he would not have been the same. I will absolutely buy into that line of reasoning. Absolutely I will.

We all have to ask one little bitty question though. HOW MANY OTHER kids have been bartered for??In other words, you negotiate with several 4 and 5 star kids and that way, you have a far better chance of winning. YES, good coaching has to come into play as well.

THAT is the $24.00 question for both MSU and AU.

This will get dirtier before it gets better.

Wells

December 10th, 2010
10:48 am

@Strange goings-on,

That was not his father. That was Chette Williams the team’s chaplain and the director of Auburn University’s FCA program.

Arlo

December 10th, 2010
10:49 am

Reggie Bush didn’t personally demand rewards for his family to play at USC. Someone represented him and by NCAA ruling he was deemed ineligible, lost his Heissman & USC lost their NC & numerous scholarships. Cam’s dad acted as an agent representing his son and whether Cam knew or not is irrelevant & he is/was ineligible to play, much less receive a Heissman. PERIOD!

WDE

December 10th, 2010
10:51 am

I said most people on these boards didn’t know his name before the season. That’s a fact, I dare you to search the archives.

If you follow recruiting closely (as I do, and as you do too, obviously), then yes, you knew who he was.

MY POINT isn’t whether people knew him, but whether anyone could have predicted he would have such immediate and dominating success. You are lying if you thought he would be in this position today.

Don’t tell me every 5-star becomes the superstar he’s become. As a UGA fan, you should know that better than anyone…

ARdawg

December 10th, 2010
10:52 am

Do what you want Barnhart. It’s your vote but remember, it’ll be you and your vote that may contribute to demise of the modicum of honor as small as that may be that remains in college football

Reggie Bush was to the Heisman what Clinton was to the office of the President. Cam and Cecil have prime opportunity to be to college football what Obama is to the same office.

Us minions might not be able to do much, in fact nothing, to hinder what the powers that be of college football do to college fooball but, that doesn’t mean we don’t recognize those of you who are doing it. You are one Tony. You are a contributor. Enjoy your Heisman vote, enjoy your CBS paycheck. Your integrity lies in the same place we find Cecil Newtons

BAMA dude

December 10th, 2010
10:52 am

Arlo, based on current evidence Reggie’s folks got stuff and Cam’s didn’t. Big difference.

Whorukidding?

December 10th, 2010
10:53 am

What do you expect from a columnist who makes his living promoting a sport involving semi-professional “student athletes”? A vote by a columnist against a person like Newton would be an admission of the flaws in the big money college football landscape which the media feeds off. In other words, theres no “Tony Barnhart Show” on TV if they dont feed the hype machine for a big money conference like the SEC. Of course, this is all hidden behind “what matters is what happens on the field” and “the rules didn’t exactly say it was wrong” to justify the vote.

JB

December 10th, 2010
10:53 am

The world is simple……Democrats believe raising taxes on people who run and own businesses would make them want to expand and hire(sic). Republicans believe that growing a business and profits and expanding means hiring folks. lot’s of folks, who in turn, buy houses, furniture, cars, eat out,buy clothes.
Why is this so hard to understand. The Lazy and worthless get left behind, as they always do.

KR

December 10th, 2010
10:55 am

For everyone posting the SEC rule, here are your two sticking points:

1. “receives” – to date, no evidence has been shown that the Newtons received any money from any university (or agent of a university).

2. “agrees to receive” – to date, no evidence has been shown that any university (or agent of a university) offered any money to the Newtons. If no money is offered, it is impossible to agree to receive it.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what you believe. The only thing that matters is what you can prove.

PALADIN DEATH DEALER

December 10th, 2010
10:55 am

ATL is TigerTown:
3 times caught cheating, lapton stolen, father in on money making scheme and son, who is close to dad, knows nothing about it….PLEASE!!!!!!

PALADIN DEATH DEALER

December 10th, 2010
10:56 am

KR:
JUST WAIT, IT WILL BE PROVEN….GOT TO GET THE BCS DEAL DONE FIRST….

Lowered Standards

December 10th, 2010
10:57 am

I always thought the Heisman represented character & what is good & pure about collegiate football. Giving such an honor to a player that clearly isn’t worthy on any of those counts is a travesty.

Cam’s father acted as his agent. That made him ineligible. Doesn’t matter if Cam had anything to do with it. Sorry Tony, you’re wrong.

Arlo

December 10th, 2010
10:58 am

BAMA dude, where did the money come from to fix Cecil’s church?

BAMA dude

December 10th, 2010
10:59 am

Arlo

December 10th, 2010
10:58 am
BAMA dude, where did the money come from to fix Cecil’s church?

I don’t know. Neither do you.

WDE

December 10th, 2010
10:59 am

You know Cam’s older brother was recently in the NFL?

Clark Roberts

December 10th, 2010
11:00 am

In response to Cry me a river’s comment “Clark Roberts, Yeah, tell that to Reggie Bush you genius”

People forget so quickly what the NCAA found Bush and his family guilty of. Let me remind you.

1. Marketing and a sports agency were agreed upon by Reggie’s stepfather and an agency partner.

2. Round trip transportation was provided for Reggie’s parents and brother to attend the Orange bowl by an agency partner. His family was also provided round trip airfare and accommodations in 2005 for a California game by sports marketers.

3. Reggie was provided cash by an agency partner for the down payment, rims, car alarm, and an audio system on a new vehicle. This is key: Reggie is found by the NCAA to be personally involved.

4. Hotel accommodations and a limo were provided for Reggie by agency partners.

5. Reggie’s parents entered into a written agreement for a monthly sum to purchase a property in Spring Valley as well as utilities, furniture, and a washer and dryer. Reggie would pay the agency partner back with money from his professional contract.

6. It was acknowledged by USC that he received some (but not all) of the above benefits directly. USC agreed he was ineligible for competition during this time frame.

7. A sports marketer paid to have Reggie’s Chevrolet Impala repaired after an auto accident.

So far the only thing we know is that his father’s solicited money from MSU

So, cry me a river, I wouldn’t call you an idiot, but you’re definitely ignorant and intellectually lazy.

WDE

December 10th, 2010
11:00 am