Tag Archives | Auburn

The Cameron Newton Investigation And What It Means

ESPN has the story regarding a possible pay-to-play situation involving Cameron Newton’s recruitment out of junior college.

The NCAA is investigating.

So what does this mean for Newton’s Heisman hopes?

Had this investigation not occurred just a few months after Reggie Bush was forced to vacate his Heisman and just a few weeks after the ACC and SEC were rocked by a series of agent scandals, the first intinct of the college football world would’ve been to give Newton the benefit of the doubt.

But the months of media outrage over Bush’s transgressions, plus the more recent shenanigans occurring at North Carolina and elsewhere, have created a climate in college football akin to the steroid scandals in baseball.  Those caught up or associated with characters from the shady agent world are often presumed to be dirty before being given a chance to prove themselves clean.

Just the specter of a possible retroactive judgement of ineligibilty in Newton’s case following a long NCAA investigation is bound to give some Heisman voters pause when considering the Auburn quarterback for their ballots.  I’m sure no one wants to go through the process of vacating another trophy.  That wouldn’t be fair to the players who, as far as we know, weren’t on the take in 2010, would it?

The selective, backward-thinking persecution of Bush is to blame for much of this.  It was only a matter of time before a past or present player was implicated as a follow up to the zealous targeting of the 2005 winner.  Eventually, as more players are dinged and disqualified due to these problems, the trophy’s credibility is sure to take a needless hit.  People just had to lift the proverbial college football rock to find out what was underneath and now they’re seeing that the underside is crawling with all kinds of unsavory characters.  Well, duh.  They’ve always been there and will continue to be there.  What we don’t need now is a never-ending series of self-righteous investigations that selectively punish certain players while paralyzing and discrediting the sport and its traditions.  

The outcome of the investigation is pending and it could still be that nothing comes of it and that Newton is clean.  But Heisman ballots arrive on November 15.  If the investigation continues on into December and nothing is resolved, many voters will be reluctant to risk choosing a player who could yet be deemed ineligible.   

Newton will need to manage this properly and answer all questions asked.  A ‘Checkers’ speech might be in order. 

The longer this drags on without clarity, the bigger the blow will be to his Heisman hopes.

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Cameron Newton and the Heisman Trophy

Eight weeks into the season, Auburn’s Cameron Newton is the front runner to win the 2010 Heisman Trophy.

Playing well in big games in front of big audiences is the key to winning the Heisman and his performance against LSU has lifted his candidacy above the others in the race.  Now, the trophy is his to lose.

Newton is a unique figure in college football: He combines Vince Young’s size and escapability with Tim Tebow’s power running and toughness.  He’s not particularly refined as a passer, but he doesn’t need to be.  But when he does pass, he’s efficient, as his 172.08 passer rating attests.

At this rate, he would be the first quarterback since Eric Crouch of Nebraska in 2001 to win the Heisman primarily because of his running ability.  Here’s a look at his O.J.-like run through the LSU defense:

It’s this kind of run that is quickly cementing his status as a legend at Auburn, even if he is (essentially) eight games into his college career.

There are two other candidates in this race:  Oregon’s LaMichael James and Boise State’s Kellen Moore.  Barring a late-season surge by another candidate (or an unforeseen drop by the current ones), Newton, James and Moore look to be the three finalists heading to New York.

Newton’s path to the Heisman is somewhat favorable.  The Tigers play Ole Miss, Chattanooga and Georgia in the next three weeks.  I don’t think these teams will have much success in stopping him or Auburn, which means there could be an end-of-season showdown for all the marbles against Alabama on Nov. 26, a Thanksgiving Friday, with the whole country watching.

By then, it’s possible that Newton will have built up such a body of work, that a good performance in a loss might still snag him the Heisman.  Obviously, a win over the Tide would clinch it, not only because of the accolades and glory that would arise from beating a respected rival, but also because it would send Auburn to the SEC title game and give Newton another game to add to an already-impressive season resume.

Besides injury or a dropoff in performance, who or what can stop Newton from winning the Heisman? 

The answer to that is James and Alabama.  The nation’s leading rusher has a marquee matchup at USC next Saturday.  If he comes up big in that game, he’ll be able to keep pace with Newton. The race and the ensuing debate the rest of the season would probably boil down to:  Newton or James?  

As for Alabama, if the Tide defense completely shuts down Newton in that final game, sending the Tide to the SEC title game, then that opens the door for James or possibly Moore to win. 

But given his most recent performance and the hype that has come out of it, Newton holds all the cards in this race.  It would take a major stumble on his part or an unexpected Auburn loss for him to be knocked from his perch before that final matchup with ‘Bama.

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Could a Freshman Make a Run at the Heisman Trophy in 2010?

Let’s be clear from the start:  I don’t think a freshman will ever win the Heisman Trophy.

But I do think that from time to time a freshman can make a huge impact on the race and find a way to finish in the top five–and maybe even get to New York.

Which of this year’s freshmen are the most likely to jump into the upper echelon of candidates?  With two games under our belt, here are the ones who I see as having the best shot.  The chances of these youngsters actually getting to New York are remote, but if fate should decree it to happen, it’ll most likely be one of these guys:

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