A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

You Damn Well Better Give Cam Newton the Heisman

with one comment

Okay, first things first.  Cam Newton still has to play the SEC Championship game there – so this post is in some ways premature.  I write it because:

1) Newton’s so far out in front of everyone else now, it’s hard to imagine anything could possibly justify considering him other than the most outstanding player in the country.

2)  People are actually, and ridiculously, telling voters to NOT vote for Newton.

Cam Newton is Very Good

First, a refresher on point (1)…

Going into todayNewton had the #2 quarterback rating in all of Division 1-A football, and he has rushing numbers that would probably rank him as the 2nd most valuable running back in the country as well, all while leading a team currently bound for the BCS national championship game.

This is easily the most impressive performance of anyone in the country, and for it was so impressive that even if Newton had collapsed today and in the upcoming SEC championship game I could only think of one player who could possibly surpass him.

That player was Kellen Moore and he lost today.  Meanwhile, Newton led his team back from a 24-0 deficit against the defending national champion Crimson Tide in true Heisman fashion.  I can’t imagine the scenario where they’d pass him up now.

The other candidate that gets mentioned is the star Oregon running back LaMichael James.  Oregon being the other team apparently championship-bound and James being the one runner in the country rankable ahead of Newton.  However, Newton, and Denard Robinson as well, are really hammering in a truth people are reluctant to face:  The running back position, which once dominated the Heisman Trophy list, is simply no longer a position you should expect a Heisman Trophy to come from – and I say this being fully aware that a running back (Mark Ingram) won it last year.

The new peak of the college football player, is the quarterback who has massive success in both types of offensive attack, and thus is the key player on offense on virtually every snap.  A running back just can’t compete with that – and we need to stop pretending that when a running back rushes for 1500 yards on a team that has great success, he is the one making it all happen.  I’m not saying that running back should never win the Heisman again, but it has to be because of a year of weak competition.  (For the record, Ndamukong Suh was my choice last year.)

It’s not the Heisman Trophy’s Integrity that’s at risk here

What really has my goat though at the moment is the idea that Heisman voters should boycott Newton because Newton’s probably not a very good human being.  There seems to be this idea that if they give the award to Newton, and then the award gets stripped like it did with Reggie Bush (another running back who never should have won the award in the first place), it will forever damage what the Heisman trophy is.

It won’t.  The Heisman Trophy is the most coveted individual award in all of sports, and the only thing that will change that is if they start developing a reputation for not voting for clearly superior football players for reasons other than how they play football.  It is not the job of Heisman voters to investigate off-field allegations, and they don’t.  I don’t think I should have to point out how ridiculous it would be to NOT investigate, NOT have any evidence, and yet still not give the guy an award.

But there is a terrible embarrassment whenever a Heisman Trophy winner gets stripped, people are just confusing what it is.  It’s just the little brother embarrassment of what happens when a champion program is found to be dirty.  A Heisman Trophy winner sullied doesn’t sully the Heisman Trophy, he sullies college football.  And so the question is:  Should we not give Newton the Heisman to protect college football’s future reputation?

Here the answer is a resounding negative.  The big issue here isn’t even that protecting college football’s reputation isn’t the Heisman voter’s jobs.  No, the big issue is that every time college football’s reputation gets sullied for some bad thing that actually happened, it gets what it deserves, and it gets what it needs.   No one behaving ethically should be looking to distance college football from Cam Newton.  Cam Newton IS college football, for better and for worse.  Whatever the consequences of the fact are, are the consequences everyone needs to deal with, and if they are unacceptable, then major change must come.

And no, that change will never have anything to do with how voters judge football players play football.

P.S.  For the record, I’m in complete agreement with Reggie Bush stripped of his Heisman – just as long as it’s clear that it’s not an admission of wrong doing by the voters.  Stripping Bush is done to land about the only punishment you can land on a Heisman Trophy winner after the fact.  The voters did their jobs, there’s nothing wrong with the voting (other than the fact I think they were wrong not to vote for Vince Young).

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  1. Or do you just root for cheaters?

    Section 14.01.3.2 dealing with Financial Aid states

    “If at any time before or after matriculation in a member institution a student-athlete or any member of his/her family receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or assistance beyond or in addition to that permitted by the Bylaws of this Conference (except such aid or assistance as such student-athlete may receive from those persons on whom the student is naturally or legally dependent for support), such student- athlete shall be ineligible for competition in any intercollegiate sport within the Conference for the remainder of his/her college career.”

    Ian Campbell

    July 16, 2011 at 11:31 am


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