As I sat comfortably on my couch this past September, probably stuffing my face with Twinkies and Doritos, a fast scrolling note across the bottom of my TV screen caught my attention.
The words sped across the screen at what seemed like a blistering rate and in utter disbelief I was forced, against my will of course, to sit through another segment of SportsCenter before believing the disappointing news.
“Reggie Bush to return his Heisman trophy” the headline read.
This news didn’t catch me by surprise, Bush had been suspected of taken money during his time at USC for years, but the confirmation of this news was certainly disheartening.
The player I had deemed one of the greatest athletes of my generation, the flashy playmaker, the most complete college football player I had seen since the days of Ricky Williams, maybe better even, suddenly seemed mortal.
I wasn’t as much upset with Reggie as I was distraught at the thought of the ripple effect this news could have on the future of college football.
Flash forward nearly three months later and here we sit with a Heisman trophy award to hand out and a chance to make good on Bush’s all but obligatory decision.
But, as sportswriters around the nation get set to convene for their annual vote, the obvious choice, one Cam Newton, has become even less of a sure thing than a Lupis diagnosis on an episode of House.
Newton has been the heavy favorite for the award since posting a four-touchdown, 188 rushing yard performance against BCS contender Arkansas in early October.
The distance between Newton and the rest of the pack grew with each passing week and rushing touchdown.
On his way to an SEC record setting season, Newton seemed almost untouchable when it came to Heisman Trophy murmurs across the country.
That is until that fateful day in November, when allegations of Newton’s father soliciting money for his son’s talents broke to the media, turning what should have been Newton’s moment in the sun into a rainstorm of accusations and nay saying.
The 22-year olds image was suddenly tainted and further speculation of a pay-to-play plan continued to break throughout the weeks ahead, causing even more college football pundits to question Newton’s eligibility.
But even with his eligibility fully reinstated and his father now the focus of any such investigation, Newton is still under mass amounts of scrutiny when it comes to college football’s version of the MVP.
Some Heisman voters have even come out publicly already stating they are not voting for Newton come Saturday.
Could it be that other Heisman hopefuls such as Stanford stud quarterback Andrew Luck, Oregon tailback Lamichael James and Boise State QB Kellen Moore are better qualified for the award.
Or are these supposed “experts” simply judging the kid as ‘guilty until proven innocent’, a notion that goes against the very basis on which our country was founded.
Either way, the fact is that Newton was ruled eligible and cleared to play by the NCAA, so there is no Reggie Bush situation looming.
So, with this knowledge in tow, the only way to justly decide on the winner of the 2010 edition of the award is to base it on the numbers.
And by a quick look at the numbers, no one else really compares to the numbers Newton boasted on his way to clinching a 13-0 season and Auburn’s first ever berth in a BCS National Championship game (in 2004 they were named the AP National Champions).
To have any realistic shot at winning the Heisman, Kellen Moore had to be damn near perfect. After tossing 33 touchdowns and only five interceptions to go along with 3500 yards and 71 percent completion rate, it’s hard to find many mistakes.
But Boise lost in their final test of the season against Nevada and even Moore’s late attempts at heroics came up short, along with any chance at the Heisman.
Andrew Luck stormed 5th ranked Stanford out to an impressive start this season, tossing an impressive 28 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, while posting a 70 percent completion rate for the season.
But in the biggest game of the season, Stanford’s blowout loss to Oregon, Luck threw two picks, both coming at key moments in the second half, that ultimately eliminated the Cardinal from title contention all together.
The person who benefited most from Luck’s disappointment was Oregon sophomore Lamichael James. Even after missing the first game of the season due to suspension, James still managed to top his impressive freshman campaign with 1,682 rushing yards and an eye popping 21 TDs on the season.
James even carved up the Cardinal defense in maybe the most impressive performance of the college football season with 257 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.
In any other season James would have wrapped up the trophy by now, and there aren’t any negatives to pin on the star tailback either, other than the two games in which he didn’t total at least 100 yards rushing (91 and 94 respectively).
But the fact still remains that Newton is by far the greatest of them all.
Just take a quick peek. 28 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions, 2589 passing yards and completing an impressive 67 percent of his passes. That may not exactly bowl you over in comparison to Luck or Moore, but then again that’s not all.
Newton also found a way to use his 6’6”-250 pound frame to an unbelievable 1402 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in SEC history with at least 20 touchdown through the air and on the ground.
That is an unfathomable mark. 49 total touchdowns (forgot to mention his one TD catch). WOW!
Not to mention being widely regarded as the best quarterback in SEC history. To even be on the same list as Spurrier, Wuerffell, Tebow and the rest of the greats is one thing, but to top that list.
When I sit down Saturday and begin to consider my vote for the Heisman, only to realize that my opinion doesn’t truly matter as I am yet to be considered trustworthy of the Heisman Trust’s trust (confusing? I thought so), I just can’t look past the numbers.
So, until the Heisman Trust deems me eligible to vote on the annual award, I will continue to place my vote where it is freely accepted.
Thus, in regards to the annual Hughesman Trophy award, congratulations Cam Newton.
You’ve earned it and let’s just hope that you don’t turn out to be Reggie Bush 2.0.
I’m not sure I could take it.