Serious question: Is Cam Newton the greatest collegian ever?

Say what you will about him, but he can play the game. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Say what you will about him, but he can play the game. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

For a month, the question involving Cam Newton has been, “Did he or didn’t he?” Just for today, let’s try something different. Let’s ask instead: “Is he or isn’t he?”

As in, the greatest player in college football, and not just this year.

As in, the greatest ever.

Said Steve Spurrier, who won the Heisman and who has coached a Heisman winner: “That’s a good question. I don’t like putting anybody at the top, but he might be the best running quarterback probably ever to come through college ball.”

Gene Chizik coaches Auburn, so he doesn’t qualify as a disinterested party. But the same Gene Chizik was the defensive coordinator on a Texas team Vince Young willed to the 2005 BCS title, so he does have standing in the matter. And Chizik, asked if he’d ever seen a better college player than the one he has now, said this:

“No. It’s that simple. If you look over a 13-game span, I’ve never seen anything like it. And it’s running the ball, throwing the ball. Usually great quarterback usually do one or the other better … what God’s blessed Cameron with is the ability to be really, really good at both.”

Then: “We have one game left, so he can’t too big a head with one game left, but I can say he’s probably the best football player I’ve ever seen.”

Said Newton: “Wow.”

We might never know how Cam Newton came to be an Auburn Tiger, but let’s leave that for later. Let’s focus today on Cam Newton, Auburn Tiger. Let’s examine a quarterback who, in one SEC championship game Saturday, managed to replicate the best of what both Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow, Heisman winners from Florida, had done in this event on this field.

Against Spurrier’s Gamecocks, Newton passed for 335 yards and ran for 73. He accounted for six touchdowns — four passing, two running. He converted third-and-longs out of nothing.

The thinking was that South Carolina, having seen Newton in his game-of-arrival Sept. 25, might be better suited to get a hand on the irresistible Cam. Turned out the Gamecocks had no idea. They couldn’t sack him and couldn’t cover his receivers. They couldn’t even prevent him from — another Heisman reference! — pulling a Doug Flutie.

Sixteen seconds left, first half: The Gamecocks draw within 21-14. Newton throws two passes, the first for eight yards, the second for 51-yard deflected touchdown as time expired.

About here, you thought to yourself: “Tim Tebow never did that.”

Yeah, yeah. Nobody ever wondered if Tim Tebow’s daddy put him up for sale, either. But if we’re comparing the two quarterbacks — and it wouldn’t seem fanciful to do so, given that both played in the SEC and ran a spread offense — the sainted Tebow never worked the wonders in any of his four seasons that Newton has wrought in his one.

A year ago — to the day, Newton emphasized — this quarterback was winning a JUCO national championship with Blinn College of Texas. On Saturday he had won the SEC title and booked passage to the BCS title game and done it in his hometown to boot. “Words can’t explain it,” said Newton, meeting the media for the first time since Nov. 9.

Then: “It’s a wonder what God can do in a person’s life, in such quick fashion. I thank Him single every day. As soon as my feet touch [the floor] my knees touch … I can’t even be happier than I am right now.”

Newton began his postgame session by reading a statement: “I’ve done nothing wrong, and I’m only going to answer questions about football and this game.” And ordinarily we hard-nosed media types would have snorted with laughter at such a request. But such was the majesty of Newton’s play that the request seemed almost reasonable.

We can and will spend the month before Auburn plays Oregon in Glendale, Ariz., parsing the latest reports and allegations — and you just know some will be forthcoming — but for this night it was possible to revel in a performer and his performance. And we would like, so as not to leave the question posed above unanswered, to offer this:

Cam Newton is the second-best college player I’ve ever seen. Herschel Walker, and only Herschel Walker, was better. And not by much.

995 comments Add your comment

Mombebes

December 4th, 2010
9:40 pm

DUH! And then some!

Steve Tanneyhill

December 4th, 2010
9:40 pm

Didn’t we say this about Tebow…….

mmgtfan

December 4th, 2010
9:41 pm

Mombebes

December 4th, 2010
9:41 pm

All you whiny THUGA fans, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! 56-17!!

Cecil Newton

December 4th, 2010
9:42 pm

Damn I got ripped off.

Reid Adair

December 4th, 2010
9:43 pm

“We might never know how Cam Newton came to be an Auburn Tiger, but let’s leave that for later.”

Well, that certainly implies that there’s something unusual, possibly illegal, to Cam Newton’s recruitment to Auburn. Know something the NCAA doesn’t, Mark?

WDE!!!

December 4th, 2010
9:44 pm

Ha ha. Once again Mark you show your stupidity for football. USC to beat Auburn! Nice pick!

WDE!!!

December 4th, 2010
9:44 pm

Go call Lou Holtz!

Coach M. Richt

December 4th, 2010
9:44 pm

He would have made a far better tight end.

Dawg A

December 4th, 2010
9:45 pm

Not even in the top 5!!!! Not jumping on this bandwagon!

WDE!!!

December 4th, 2010
9:45 pm

Herschel played for 3 years, Newton for 13 games. Nice try…

Jason

December 4th, 2010
9:46 pm

The thing about Newton is that he often doesn’t appear that impressive because he makes it look so darn easy. It’s like Bob Ross painting a landscape… it didn’t look like he was doing anything difficult but try it yourself and wow, you really appreciate the skill.

Steve Tanneyhill

December 4th, 2010
9:46 pm

Vince Young won a NC…………

tdawg money

December 4th, 2010
9:46 pm

I answer to your question…..He’s the best collegiate player that money can {in fact} buy. Let me get this straight……sell your jersey for $1,000 to have expense money for Spring break……4 game suspension……..Have your Dad shop your services around to the hihest bidder for, say ……$180,000………no problem, no penalty, no harm, no foul. If that’s not BS, there is no such thing.

Reggie Braswell

December 4th, 2010
9:47 pm

I agree with Herschel number 1. Bo Jackson may be number 2 as his career spanned more than Scam Newton’s one year. Oh, if only Herschel had played that fourth year. The records would never be broken!

Dan

December 4th, 2010
9:47 pm

O.J. Simpson, who also went the juco route, was a better college player – just goes to show you never confuse talent with morality

Steve Tanneyhill

December 4th, 2010
9:47 pm

He is the best JUCO transfer ever……….

the greatest cheater, laptop stealer, etc.

December 4th, 2010
9:48 pm

he played one year of collegiate football, and we’re going to say he’s the greatest ever?

he’s far from it imo. his character issues don’t help him either.

oj simpson was a great football player, but you know the rest of the story.

What a Moron!!!

December 4th, 2010
9:48 pm

I can’t believe you are actually using server space for this Mr. Bradley! Nuf said.

And why is that bomb at the end of the half even mentioned…all he did was throw it. The receiver did the work by catching the tip. Any college QB can make that throw.

As much of an SEC guy as I am…Here’s hoping Oregon beats the ever loving you know what out of AU and Scam Newton! What a Narcissist, “I am an the SEC Champion”. Scam is a joke…let the NFL have him…He gives good SEC players a bad name!

Have a nice day!

Marcus Dupree

December 4th, 2010
9:49 pm

Greatest ever? Wait til I make my Auburn debut, is there a Colonial Bank still open? I got a check from Mr. Lowder I need to cash.

Cecil Newton

December 4th, 2010
9:49 pm

I wonder if I can sell Cam to the Arizona Cardinals when we go to Glendale ? They need a QB pretty bad and I hear that they can pay a little better than Auburn.

Steve Tanneyhill

December 4th, 2010
9:49 pm

If UGA was undefeated & # 1, and TCU was sitting there, AJ would have been reinstated too……..

smart dawg

December 4th, 2010
9:50 pm

War Eagle.
Keep the SEC streak alive.

RTR

December 4th, 2010
9:50 pm

A great football player on the field but off the field there is nothing great about him. To me a great collegian represents his self on the field in greatness as well as off the field.

Hope Auburn enjoys this season and a possible Heisman trophy winner for someone that used them to get to the next level.

Cecil Newton

December 4th, 2010
9:51 pm

How much is a Heisman Trophy worth ? Just askin.

Boca Baby

December 4th, 2010
9:51 pm

In the modern era: Herschel Walker. No question about it.

RTR

December 4th, 2010
9:51 pm

Its worth at least another $180k!

Mombebes

December 4th, 2010
9:52 pm

Oh, yes. And Herschel’s parents paid for the black Trans Am that he drove his freshman year. And Dan, you’re comparing Cam Newton to OJ? Jeez, you are desperate.

Cecil Newton

December 4th, 2010
9:53 pm

Get your “CammyCam Juice” in two flavors : cash money and laptop lemonade

RTR

December 4th, 2010
9:54 pm

Don’t forget Herschel thought the Varsity was a fine dining place with steaks!

TCCB

December 4th, 2010
9:54 pm

HE!! YA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rooting4Oregon

December 4th, 2010
9:54 pm

Are you kidding?

M.Lattamor

December 4th, 2010
9:54 pm

Damn! mama wouldn’t take the money.

elliemae

December 4th, 2010
9:54 pm

Chizik doesn’t want Cam Newton to get a big head? Too late for that. Newton is one arrogant SOB. Great player, but an ego to match. A little humilty goes a long way, Cam….especially when the FBI is done with you and Auburn and you guys lose it all in a year or two. Enjoy it while it lasts.

War Eagle

December 4th, 2010
9:54 pm

“We might never know how Cam Newton came to be an Auburn Tiger, but let’s leave that for later.”

Yes Mark, we’re sure you will leave it for later. Are you on the Oregon bandwagon yet? Its just a matter of time…..

Finchdawg

December 4th, 2010
9:55 pm

Greatness in that category should be established by more than a 1-year career. Let’s just say greatest one-year player ever, and if he stays another year at AU (unlikely), then we can have this debate.

M.Lattamor

December 4th, 2010
9:55 pm

Dear Cecil, Will you adopt me?

the greatest cheater, laptop stealer, etc.

December 4th, 2010
9:56 pm

why was cam running around with his hand over his mouth after the alabama game? is that what the Chiz-maester told him to do to make sure he didn’t say anything about the money?

now, cam, just put your hand over your mouth and do not say anything.

RTR

December 4th, 2010
9:56 pm

Hey Damon, what color panties do you have in your lap tonight?

Marcus Dupree

December 4th, 2010
9:56 pm

Glad Lattimore’s momma didn’t take the money or I would not have gotten those dog track vouchers from McGregor.

ack

December 4th, 2010
9:57 pm

He’s a profe$$ional, not a collegian. Debate over.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Josh Massey. Josh Massey said: Hap Hines? RT @MarkBradleyAJC Is #CamNewton the greatest college player ever? (I say not quite. Id put him second to..) http://bit.ly/fhOPsz [...]

TCCB

December 4th, 2010
9:58 pm

Cam is a happy baby boy!!!!!

ack

December 4th, 2010
9:58 pm

“And Herschel’s parents paid for the black Trans Am that he drove his freshman year”

Yeah, because it’s completely unheard of for parents to buy their kid a car in college. Idiot.

Iceman

December 4th, 2010
9:58 pm

Newton is one stuck up kid.

Hang tight folks, the NCAA will come down on them soon enough.

M.Lattamor

December 4th, 2010
9:58 pm

Here at the Cheetah with Cecil makin it rain!!!!! Thanx. AU!

Mark Bradley

December 4th, 2010
9:58 pm

That’s correct. O.J. Simpson, who I’d put in the top five of collegians — remember, I didn’t see Red Grange or Tom Harmon — was also a JUCO guy.

BnB

December 4th, 2010
9:59 pm

Though once again Capt. Obvious (Bradley) has had to wipe the egg from his face regarding his pint sized powers of prognostication it is nice to see him attempt to–for a moment–put aside the soap opera behind the curtain to focus on what has been an unworldly football performance on the field. I fully understand the feelings about the pay for play stuff and–like everyone else–really have no way of knowing what the real deal is and perhaps never will but as everyone tries to rip Cam and the Tigers down I hope they have at least in their pure football hearts been able to put aside all this and recognize that the guy has just completed a season for the ages. Herschel? I’m not so sure though he was unquestionably a great one. This year has been almost like watching an improbable movie.

No doubt we will soon be floating here in a sea of Hater-Ade and as an AU grad and resident my thoughts are clearly biased but I think the most objective eyes can see that we have witnessed greatness. When Bama won it all last year I gave them all their due. They were a machine and richly deserved the championship they won. Likewise with Florida and Tebow. Hating is like drinking poison and waiting for the other guy to die. Live a little!:)

Still wondering

December 4th, 2010
9:59 pm

Exactly where was Cecil Newton tonight during the game? All the shots of SCAM’s mom was without the pastor. Was he the guy with the glasses on the sidelines who kept hugging SCAM when he came off the field? Thought he was supposed to play a very minor role? Someone must know where he was???

WDE!!!

December 4th, 2010
9:59 pm

All you UGA fans… Have fun in Memphis on Dec 31st!!! Nice year.