Auburn’s Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy this past weekend, and really, it was a competition devoid of drama. Take away some moral grandstanding, and this was an out and out landslide.
Yes, there were a number of voters-105 to be exact-who, perhaps wary of the possibility of a Reggie Bush-type “vacating” of the award down the line, left Newton completely off the ballot.
But of the 781 ballots that did have Newton’s name on them, 729 of them saw the Auburn signal-caller’s name at the top- with good reason. This year, the Tigers’ QB had 4,000 yards of total offense and 48 touchdowns and was a threat with his arm and with his legs. He guided his team through the gauntlet that is the SEC and let several stirring comebacks. He was, without question, the deserving winner.
There was no debate as to who the best player in college football was this season. It was simply a question of whether or not too many voters thought Newton didn’t deserve to be on the ballot.
Look, I understand that it’s embarrassing to have to vacate an award, as it happened in the Reggie Bush case, but the NCAA has looked into it, and found Newton guilty of nothing.
If you agree with the 105 voters who left Newton off their ballots and believe either that Newton is guilty or that a “better safe than sorry” attitude needs to apply here, entertain the following idea: Newton is left off enough ballots to cost him the award, and after all this is finally closed, is completely, 100% exonerated.
What do we do then? How would you feel about taking the award away from someone who deserved it? To me, that’s a greater injustice than awarding it in good faith and having it stripped through an investigation five years later.
I wonder too, if the number of voters who left Newton off the ballots would have been smaller had this been a close race–and yes, the writing was on the wall well in advance that Newton would walk . It’s easy to take a moral stand when you know it affects nothing at the end of the day. Doing so when there might be a real impact is the challenge.
At the end of the day however, that’s just the side story–albeit one that cannot be ignored. The real story is about Newton’s season, a 13-week march through college football that ended fittingly: With the Heisman Trophy.