Cam Newton Wins Heisman
In a decision that should come as no surprise to defenders who tried (unsuccessfully) to stop him this season, Cam Newton ran away with the Heisman vote Saturday.
The Auburn quarterback laid claim to college football's most prestigious award in front of a packed crowd at the Best Buy Theater in New York despite allegations of a pay-for-play scenario involving his father, Cecil.
Newton beat out his nearest competitor, Andrew Luck of Stanford, by 1,184 points; quite a feat considering Newton was left off of 105 ballots. It was the 11th largest margin of victory in the trophy's 76-year history.
"This whole thing right now is just beyond me," Newton said. "I feel like I'm in a dream. I haven't woke up yet. It hasn't even come up to me what I just accomplished."
He's right. His accomplishments are hard to believe.
Not only did the 6-foot-6, 250-pound quarterback guide Auburn to a No. 1 ranking and a place in the BCS National Championship Game, he also racked up an SEC-best 1,409 yards rushing and 2,589 yards passing, making him the first SEC player to record 1,000 rushing yards and 2,000 yards passing in the same season.
He accounted for 49 touchdowns in total (28 passing, 20 rushing, 1 receiving) and guided the Tigers to an undefeated season. He was, by himself, responsible for more points (294) than 40 teams in the Football Bowl Series.
However, allegations of impropriety brought Newton's eligibility into question toward the end of the season.
The junior transfer -- Newton was originally recruited to Florida before leaving in 2009 to play a season at Blinn College in East Texas then transferring to Auburn this season -- came under fire in November after a Mississippi State booster said Newton's father tried to arrange a $180,000 deal with the Bulldogs.
It was unclear for awhile whether Newton would be eligible to play, let alone compete for the Heisman, but the NCAA decided not to punish him -- not yet anyway. An investigation into the issue is ongoing.
The scandal kept Cecil Newton from coming to the Heisman ceremony -- he decided earlier in the week not to attend -- but Cam said his father's spirit was with him during his big night.
"He gave me some words of encouragement before I came here and I know he's with me in spirit," he said.
Newton's mother, Jackie, was there to represent him. After Newton's name was announced, he found her for a long embrace.
The Heisman win is the third in school history for Auburn. Previous winner Bo Jackson was on hand to share the moment with his fellow Tiger. It was the first time Jackson has attended a Heisman ceremony since he won the trophy in 1985.
"I felt like it was my duty to come back," he said. "And my wife made me."
Newton finished with 729 first place votes and 2,263 points. Luck, the runner-up, had 1,079 points, and LaMichael James and Kellen Moore finished with 916 and 635 points, respectively.
James' Oregon Ducks will meet Newton and Auburn in the national title game on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.