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Don't vote Newton for Heisman

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Thayer Evans

Senior College Football writer Thayer Evans previously wrote for The New York Times and Houston Chronicle, as well as contributed to The Economist, USA Today, The Washington Post and more. Follow him on Twitter.

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For Halloween, Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton wore a white fairy costume.

And if you’re a Heisman voter who casts a ballot for him, you’re just buying the fairytale that he and his father, Cecil Newton, a pastor, have been selling the last two years.

With ESPN.com reporting Thursday that a man saying he represented Newton allegedly sought $180,000 for him while he was being recruited by Mississippi State, it’s one they may have gotten paid for.

So listen closely, Heisman voters: Do not vote for Newton.

That’s surely a heartbreaking message for most of you, who basically had already given him the award for college football’s most outstanding player.

But remember, just less than two months ago, disgraced New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush in an unprecedented move returned the Heisman Trophy that he won in 2005. That was after the NCAA determined he was ineligible that season at USC for having accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits from two agents.

When Bush won the award, there were no signs of potential impropriety. Yet with Newton, a junior, now there are.

Yes, they are allegations, but the kind that aren’t worth risking the return of another Heisman Trophy.

Of course, there will be Heisman voters who still vote for Newton. They’re blinded by their love for him, just like most of the media, who have been duped repeatedly by him and his father.

After all, the supposed redemption story of Newton has always seemed too good to be true.

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  • Is Cam Newton your Heisman Trophy winner?
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The way he and his father told it was compelling. Their version was that the younger Newton had simply made a dumb mistake while at Florida in November 2008 when he was arrested and charged with burglary, larceny and obstruction of justice in connection with a stolen laptop.

They maintained he had not stolen the computer, but instead purchased it from a man selling electronics out of the back of his car. The charges, all felonies, were later dropped after Newton completed a pretrial diversion program.

When Newton left Florida in early 2009 to transfer to Blinn College, a two-year junior college in Texas, he and his father said he didn’t want to spend another year backing up then-Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, who decided to stay for his senior year.

And when as the nation’s top junior college recruit, Newton decided not to attend Mississippi State to play for Dan Mullen, his former offensive coordinator at Florida, and instead chose Auburn last December, the decision was made for him by his father, according to a recent Sports Illustrated article.

 

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All those extenuating circumstances never seemed to add up, but in light of the most recent allegations, perhaps they do to some extent. It’s no surprise either that Newton’s father has denied any wrongdoing to ESPN.com.

On the field, there’s never been much doubt about Newton other than his questionable passing ability. He’s one of the best running quarterbacks in recent memory and is essentially a one-man team who has willed undefeated Auburn to its No. 2 ranking in the BCS standings.

But there’s precedent of wrongdoing at Auburn. It’s as much a part of the university’s culture as a Bo Jackson stiff-arm or the toilet-paper tradition known as rolling Toomer’s Corner.

The Tigers have had seven major NCAA violations, which included players being paid under former coach Pat Dye, who resigned in 1992. But that doesn’t include other issues such as former players receiving high grades in sociology classes that required little work and no attendance.

The scrutiny surrounding Newton and Auburn’s past is too much to ignore, at least for now. And with all of Newton and his father’s spin, who knows how much they may have misrepresented.

So do what’s right, Heisman voters, and don’t you, too, get juked by the Newtons. Character should be a factor for the Heisman.

Plus, there’s a plenty more deserving candidate: Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. And unlike Newton, he doesn’t have to play dress-up to get attention.

Tagged: Florida

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