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Heisman? Got to hand it to Newton

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Kalani Simpson

Kalani Simpson is an award-winning journalist who has earned national recognition as a sports columnist at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and editor at Nebraska Sports America magazine.MORE>>
 
   
 

Here is the thing about Auburn quarterback Cam Newton: You have to give him the Heisman Trophy. Have to. He is the very embodiment, this season, of the most outstanding player in college football. He is what this season has been about.

There are some seasons where there really isn’t anyone all that outstanding, and the guy who gets to go down in history is nothing more than the player who happens to receive the most votes that year. And other years  there are two or more good choices.

But this year it is Newton. He deserves it. There’s no getting around it – he IS it. He belongs with all those other greats, for all time. Put his portrait on the wall.

Really, the only reason to invite anyone else to New York for the ceremony is out of decorum.

But here’s the other thing about Newton. The Reggie Bush thing – giving his Heisman back, under a cloud of allegations about cash and gifts – was, what, September? And now, in the very next go-round, we get this. This!

You have to give it to him. But there’s been enough smoke you have to think that there’s fire coming down the line. But the NCAA has declared him eligible, as of the voting, which ended Monday at 5 p.m. So you have to give it to him.

But even his own program – Auburn University! – has stipulated that Cam’s dad had his hand out, at least in regard to Mississippi State.

You can’t make this stuff up. Reggie Bush sets the precedent. And in the very next election ... what is this, a set-up?

Bush’s stiff arm was stripped (ahem, returned) because he was ineligible. Check that, he was eligible at the time, or he wouldn’t have been on the field in the first place. But it turns out he shouldn’t have been.

Well, Newton is eligible – he even has it on NCAA letterhead. But that doesn’t mean that anyone – including the NCAA – has stopped looking. That doesn’t mean this is over. That doesn’t mean any of us can breathe easy. And wait. What’s that smell? (Sniff, sniff.)

Smoke.

But you’ve got to give it to him.

This whole thing is a Catch-22. Which brings to mind this old saying every Auburn fan knows by heart: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.

But you could just as easily tweak it to this: Just because it's a witch hunt – and it has been that – doesn’t mean the guy (or his dad) hasn’t flown a broom and mixed up a little eye of newt.

So what are we to believe? That Newton’s dad did a little fishing, and when no one bit, he ducked his head sheepishly and said, "Aw, well, never mind, then."

Or maybe it was this: Auburn’s a great program, sure. Auburn's a big-time team, one of the traditional powers. Auburn, what an education! Auburn, who wouldn’t want to go there?

But go to Mississippi State? No, you’re going to have to pay me for that.

(Dear MSU friends: This is just a joke for dramatic effect. Please do not clang cowbells outside my house.)

And if you can’t buy any of this, well, Auburn fans can. They have to. This is their moment, and someone's trying to taint it. It seems this always happens to Auburn. (Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.) No, Auburn fans, they have to believe.

(As I said in the wake of last week’s column, theirs is the classiest "hate" mail I’ve ever seen. True, one guy told me on Twitter to "go play out in traffic!" But I’m sure it’s only the 140-character limit that kept him from closing with "and a very happy holiday to you and your family." Hey, don’t worry, man. That’s how I heard it in my head.)

So, here we are. A scant three months after we excoriate Reggie Bush, we get this. Cam karma. Catch-22. But he’s going to get it, and he won it. He’s the one. Self-important types can talk about "integrity" all they want. But to give it to anyone else would take the integrity out of the award.

Newton will take the stage in New York and hold that trophy high. How long will he actually hold it? Well, these days we handle it one thing at a time.

In years past, Bush might have been there. I don’t know where he'll be as it happens. No doubt he’ll be shaking his head at the irony of it all.

Tagged: Auburn, Cam Newton

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