Tag Archives | Cameron Newton

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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The HP Heisman Watch, Week 8

Now for my list of the players who currently stand the best chance of actually winning the Heisman.  This is not a predicted order of the final vote, nor the order of how the vote would go if held today.  Some players not on this list are likely to receive support, but not enough to win. 

So, here is the HP Heisman Watch after eight weeks of football.  We are down to three players.  Barring injury, all three of them will make it to New York, but just one will win the 2010 Heisman:

1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn–It’s been quite a journey for Newton.  The last player to come straight from junior college and make such a splash in the Heisman race was O.J. Simpson, who finished a close second to Gary Beban in 1967.  Well, Newton’s 49-yard run against LSU was certainly Simpson-esque the way he weaved through the Tiger defense.    That run and the 217 rushing yards he put up on LSU has pushed him into the front of this watch list.  The Heisman is his to lose and, looking at Auburn’s remaining schedule, it looks like he’ll be in good shape in this race right up until the last game against Alabama.  I believe he can clinch the trophy by playing well against the Tide, win or lose.  If he leads the Tigers to a win there, followed by an SEC title game victory, he’ll capture the Heisman in a runaway.  If he plays well but Auburn loses to Alabama, he’ll still be the favorite heading into the ceremony, though the vote will be much closer.  If he plays poorly in the runup to that game, or the Tide defense shuts him down, that will open the door for other candidates to snatch the Heisman away from him.

Current Stats: 90/138 (65.2%), 1,364 yds, 13 TDs, 5 INTs, 172.1 rtg; 157 att, 1,077 rush yds (6.9 ypc), 14 TDs

Projected Season Stats*: 2,046 passing yds, 20 TDs, 8 INTs; 1,615 rush yds, 21 TDs

2. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon–James helped his cause by having a nice game in a romp over UCLA last Thursday (123 yards, 2 touchdowns), but whatever ground he gained in the race was given back after Newton’s performance against LSU.  James has a chance to get some of that momentum back this Saturday when the Ducks take on USC.  If he has a monster game against the Trojans and the Ducks roll, he’ll be in good shape.  However, the buzz around James pales in comparison to all the talk of Newton at the moment.  A modern day quarterback who can run and pass–and one who is a physical specimen at that–seems especially hard for voters to ignore.  James will have to be extra special from here on out if he wants to catch Newton. 

Current Stats: 134 att, 971 yards, 11 TDs, 7.2 ypc; 4 catches, 121 yards, 1 TD

Projected Season Stats*: 1,780 yards, 20 TDs; 7 catches, 207 yards, 2 TDs

3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State–Moore and his team were idle last week, but the Broncos have a Tuesday night matchup against Louisiana Tech.  Moore remains the candidate of last resort in that voters find him to be a perfectly acceptable choice but are not exactly rushing to proclaim him to be the most outstanding player just yet.    His campaign for the Heisman mirror his team’s quest for the BCS title.  It will require the more exciting players ahead of him to falter a bit for him to have a shot.  At the same time, he’s probably already assured himself of no worse than a third-place finish in the race.  He will appear on almost every ballot, so he’s within striking distance.  It helps that his numbers are quickly becoming ridiculous.  He leads the nation in passing efficiency with a mark of 190.36, which as it stands is an NCAA record.  Furthermore, he now has 55 touchdowns and just four interceptions in his last 20 games.  His record as a starter is 32-1 and BSU has now won 20-straight under his leadership.  It could well be that his numbers alone end up making his case–not to mention his status as the quarterback for an undefeated team–but it would really help him if the players ahead of him–especially Newton–screw up.  Also, I think Boise State’s sports information people need to start making the case for Moore, or all his impressive stats will get lost in the hubbub over Newton’s spectacular play.

Current Stats: 105/151 (69.5%), 1,567 yds, 16 TDs, 1 INTs, 190.36 rtg

Projected Season Stats*: 3,132 passing yards, 32 TDs, 2 INTs

*–Denotes projected stats at time of the Heisman vote

If the vote were held today

1. Cameron Newton

2. LaMichael James

3. Kellen Moore

4. Denard Robinson

5. Terrelle Pryor

6. Andrew Luck

7. Taylor Martinez

8. Justin Blackmon

9. Blaine Gabbert

10. Matt Barkley

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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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The Heismanpundit Heisman Poll, Week 7

 We have a new leader…

Total Points (with first place votes in parentheses)

1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn – 33 (8)

 2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State – 23 (4)

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon — 17 (1)

4. DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma – 2

5. (tie) Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford — 1

5. (tie) Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State — 1

5. (tie) Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State — 1

About the poll
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for three players each week. Tabulations are made on a 3-2-1 basis, with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.  The last two years the Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote in 2008 and the top four in 2009.

Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News.

Chris Huston, owner of Heismanpundit.com, coordinates and also votes in the weekly poll.

HP’s Thoughts
Voters are in love with multi-threat quarterbacks these days and why shouldn’t they be?  First it was Denard Robinson running and throwing for big yardage to the delight of the Heisman electorate and now it’s Cameron Newton doing it.  The big difference is that Newton is big, strong and durable, whereas Robinson is not.  Also, Auburn is undefeated and in the hunt for a national title.  And so Newton is our new leader in the poll.  Kellen Moore maintains his position as a solid No. 2 and LaMichael James is lurking at No. 3, with a chance to make a move with a Thursday night game coming up.

From a Voter
“Some people watch Cam Newton and think: “Wow, this is the future of football.” Auburn fans don’t have to wait until we all have 3D televisions in our home to enjoy him. Newton is huge, runs like a tailback and is so tough to bring down, some opposing linebackers probably wish they’d chosen to play soccer over football.  Kellen Moore is like that rare political candidate who never screws up a soundbite, even if he’s just jumped off a red-eye flight and has to talk about health-care reform before a roomful of doctors. He has had a flawless season (OK, one interception) and props go to the Boise State coaches for refusing to let him pile up big passing numbers.  Sure, it would be easy to dump on Terrelle Pryor after his Buckeyes got dropped by Wisconsin. But I covered that game, and Pryor was not the problem. He did make several poor throws, but don’t blame him for Ohio State getting beat in the trenches and allowing the opening kickoff to be returned for a score.” — Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune.

Heisman Game of the Week
No. 6 LSU at No. 4 Auburn
 — This is Newton’s first game as one of the Heisman favorites, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure.  So far, he seems to be unaffected by it all.  LSU has a stout defense and will no doubt try to key on stopping Newton.  If Auburn gets by LSU–and I think it will–then Newton should solidify his hold on the race for the time being.

Player to Watch
Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State — It’s pretty rare for a wide receiver to get much traction in the Heisman race, but the buzz around Blackmon is just starting to get going.  He’s putting up numbers unlike any we’ve seen since Michael Crabtree was roaming the Big 12.  This week, the Cowboys host Nebraska, so we’ll get a chance to see just how good Blackmon really is.  He’s on pace for 114 catches for 1,910 yards and 24 touchdowns.  If he gets there, he’ll be on his way to New York, too.

This Week in Heisman History
Carson Palmer threw for a USC school-record 448 yards and five touchdowns on 31 of 42 passing as the Trojans defeated Oregon, 44-33, in 2002.  USC came back from a 19-14 halftime deficit with 20 third-quarter points and snapped a four-game losing streak to the Ducks.  Palmer would go on to win the Heisman Trophy that year, beating out Brad Banks of Iowa and Larry Johnson of Penn State.

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