Sports take: Heisman race raises questions

By Krista Pirtle

The 76th annual Heisman trophy will be awarded to the most outstanding college football player in the nation Dec. 11 in New York City.

This season, one name has been used in connection with this prestigious award, Cam Newton, the explosive quarterback at Auburn; however, after allegations came out about his conduct while attending the University of Florida, this front-runner might not leave with the Heisman after all.

While attending the University of Florida, he was arrested on charges of stealing a laptop, as well as facing a possible expulsion because of three separate instances of academic cheating.

On top of that, two sources who recruit for Mississippi State said Newton and his father, Cecil, based Newton’s college choice on monetary incentives.

All of these allegations have not hurt Newton’s eligibility to be included on the Heisman list, but should it hurt his votes?

With the recent issue with Reggie Bush returning his Heisman, this process has been taken a lot more seriously, which it should be.

If the Heisman Trust awards the Heisman to Newton but the allegations prove true, the moment of receiving such an honor has been ruined for Newton.

Moreover, the moment for the rightful winner has been taken away.

Back in 2005, the race was neck and neck between USC’s Reggie Bush and the University of Texas’ Vince Young. The Trust gave Bush the honor, after which Young played an outstanding game against Bush and his Trojans for the national championship.

On most award watch lists, Newton’s name isn’t alone. Alongside it are Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Oregon’s LaMichael James, Boise State’s Kellen Moore and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.

Sure, you can compare stats, but the Heisman runs much deeper than mere numbers on a piece of paper. It is the single most celebrated award in American collegiate athletics.

Actually, if you go by stats alone, Kellen Moore has more yards and touchdowns for the 2010 season than Newton. So what is it that puts him at the top?

Look at their conferences. Boise State is in the WAC, which hardly contains any powerhouses. Thus, a 6-1 record is not that impressive against sub-par teams.

Auburn is in the SEC, said to be the best conference in Division I college football.

Play on the field is important to determine the winner, but how does conduct off the field measure up? What if the allegations hold true, yet Newton receives the award? Is that ignoring his past conduct and making it permissible? Should it be looked over because that was years ago?

Those questions are going to go under great consideration this next week. After the conference championships are played, there will be a better understanding of who should get the Heisman.

But only Newton, James and Moore will get to prove themselves, as Moore and Blackmon finish out their seasons after the bids are given and the votes are counted.

Even though there does seem to be a front runner in this year’s race, will the off field conduct overshadow the on field performance?

Krista Pirtle is a sophomore journalism major from Olney and a reporter for The Lariat.