Friday, December 10, 2010

And the Winner is...

While listening to one of my favorite morning shows Thursday, I was taken aback by the comments one of the co-host made about a particular Heisman candidate.
The individual, George Dunham of the Dunham and Miller Morning Show, said that if he had a vote, it would be hard for him to place Cam Newton on his ballot because of all the accusations swirling regarding the “pay-for-play” scheme hatched by his father Cecil Newton and former Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers.  The Trust’s mission statement regarding integrity, he argued, was all he needed to sway him towards the “others” in the voting.
But think about this for a second.  Let’s say Cameron did take money.  Let’s say he did have extra benefits and perks and all the things that come wrapped in a bow by boosters and agents.  Let’s say he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, the epitome of hypocrisy, or Auburn the week of the Georgia game as reported.  Then what?
Does that erase the fact that Auburn, leading up to that game was 11-0?  Would it have erased the fact that over the course of this season, there has been no player, and I mean no player, more dominant than Newton in all of college football?  Would it have made Auburn’s opponents feel any better that had Newton been suspended, all those whippings he and his team laid on them wouldn’t have counted and they could have pretended they had never been beaten like runaway slaves?
No.  And to me it shouldn’t matter. 
In my opinion college football is dirty—always has been and always will be.  It may not be as dirty as it was from the ‘50s through the late ‘80s, but it still is.  And there is no player highly touted, showcased and slobbered over that hasn’t had some type of benefit thrown at them.  Isn’t that the reason some kids take forever or change their minds when it comes to committing?  Aren’t they weighing their options or are they just trying to see who has the earliest English 1301?
Hell no.
They, like any of us out in the world, are looking for the best fit, the best opportunity and in most cases the program that is going to help them progress from Saturday to Sunday.  And I don’t blame them.  I mean if your future is to get paid to play, then why not start now?  Why should we demonize kids for doing what so many before them have done and then have the nerve to rail against them while sitting in their sanctimonious perch looking down their noses?  Why should we talk about how dirty a kid is when their university makes money on them hand over fist through jersey sales, tickets and other means and a kid may get his whole college career tainted for eating lunch with a pro or hitching a ride across campus instead of walking?  Why should we get on these kids when they take their teams to bowl games, help their school make millions and then watch them spread it around to everyone except the people who risk their bodies to earn it?
It doesn’t make sense.
And Cam Newton has now found himself in that category and has to worry about a bunch of self righteous bastards who want to punish him because something sounds fishy.  It doesn’t matter that the NCAA and the school have cleared him of any wrongdoing, some of these people want blood and the only way these non-athletic sports writing jerks can get even is by holding back a vote.  That’s their prerogative, even though I think it is an overly pompous stand to make.
But let’s say Cecil Newton did take money for his son to attend school, he still had to play.  And whether Cam got $18 or $180,000 he still had to play.  He passed for 2600 yards, ran for 1400, and had 48 total touchdowns with a 67% passer rating.  He never had a game where he threw under 50% and had only one game under 55% (vs. Clemson).  He also single-handedly orchestrated a comeback in one of the best college football games of the year against Alabama to advance to the SEC Championship—all this while he and his family were being questioned by the NCAA.  And he was money throughout.
So my challenge to Mr. Dunham is to look at the facts and stats before making a decision to vote against Newton.  Let’s not condemn this kid when we don’t know everything.  Also, don’t blame the kid for the sins of the father.  Maybe Cam didn’t know and maybe he did.  But if there is no money trail and just a litany of rumors, innuendos and a bunch of he said-she said, there should be no reason for voters to hold this kid’s greatness hostage in lieu of their self-righteous piety? 
I estimate the majority of voters will make Newton the Heisman winner because they choose to look at stats and his body of work.  But for that selective few that will vote against him, they will get the chance to ponder their protest votes when those seven words, “and the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner is…” is followed by “Cameron Newton.”   

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