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December 10, 2010

Heisman vote not expected to be close

Heisman finalists in action: LaMichael James | Andrew Luck | Kellen Moore | Cameron Newton

Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton has been as unstoppable as O.J. Simpson in 1968, as explosive as Ricky Williams in 1998 and as spectacular as Desmond Howard in 1991.

Like those players, Newton will win the Heisman Trophy when it is presented by the Downtown Athletic Club on Saturday night in New York City. Whether he wins by a landslide margin, like the aforementioned trio, is the only suspense surrounding this year's ceremony.

Simpson won the Heisman by a record 1,750 points over runner-up Leroy Keyes of Purdue. Williams won by 1,563 points over Kansas State's Michael Bishop and Howard won by 1,574 points over Florida State's Casey Weldon.

Newton clearly has the on-field credentials that would support a landslide win over fellow finalists Andrew Luck of Stanford, LaMichael James of Oregon and Kellen Moore of Boise State.

He has led Auburn to a 13-0 record, a SEC championship and a berth in the BCS national championship game. He leads the nation in passing efficiency while throwing for 2,589 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also has rushed for 1,409 yards and 20 touchdowns, and he even has caught a touchdown pass.

But because his father, Cecil Newton, reportedly sought up to $180,000 in a play-for-pay scheme, some of the about 1,000 Heisman voters have indicated they left Cameron Newton off their ballots even though the NCAA, which is investigating the case, ruled last week that Cameron Newton was eligible because he apparently had no knowledge of his father's actions.

If it is eventually determined that Cameron Newton did indeed have knowledge of his father's scheme or received any improper benefits, he could be the second recipient to be stripped of the Heisman. USC running back Reggie Bush, the 2005 recipient, returned his Heisman earlier this year after the NCAA ruled he should have been ineligible after receiving illegal benefits.

Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi explained in his daily blog that he omitted Cameron Newton because of an "integrity" clause in the Heisman voting instructions.

"Hate to say I told you so, but I've never been more secure about my decision to leave Cam Newton off my Heisman ballot than I was a few days ago. That's when the NCAA determined that, yes, Newton's father, Cecil, a preacher in Atlanta, shopped his son in a play-for-pay scheme before Newton signed with Auburn," Bianchi wrote. "Do I need to remind everyone of the 'integrity' clause in the Heisman's mission statement? It says, 'The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.' "

Five voters in Wisconsin have told Madison radio station WTSO-AM that they would not have Cameron Newton on their ballots.

Still, that's six voters among almost 1,000.

Because of the controversy, Cecil Newton announced through his attorney earlier this week that he would not attend the Heisman ceremony.

"For all my 50 years of life, coupled with 25 years of marriage, I have made an exhausting attempt to be a good husband, father and generally a good person of integrity. The past 60 days have caused all that my family worked to accomplished to come into question," Cecil Newton said. "So that my son Cam Newton can receive all the honors and congratulations that he has worked so hard to accomplish and without distraction, I have decided not to be in attendance at the Heisman ceremony, as it will perhaps rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment."

Cameron Newton already has won the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback, the Maxwell Award as the nation's top player and the Walter Camp player of the year award.

"I'm a blessed individual," he told ESPN at the annual College Football Awards show at Disney World on Thursday night. "Any time you have a great team, individuals will be pointed out."

Newton would be the third Auburn player to win the Heisman, following quarterback Pat Sullivan, who edged Cornell running back Ed Marinaro by 1971 by just 152 points; and running back Bo Jackson, who beat Iowa quarterback Chuck Long by 45 points in 1985 in the second-closest Heisman vote ever.

Landslide winners
Here's a list of the 10 Heisman recipients who won by the widest margins. The total points of the winners and runners-up are in parentheses.
Year, winnerRunner-upMargin
1. 1968, USC RB O.J Simpson (2,853)Purdue RB/CB Leroy Keyes (1,103) 1,750 points
2. 2006, Ohio State QB Troy Smith (2,540)Arkansas RB Darren McFadden (878)1,662 points
2. 1993, Florida State QB Charlie Ward (2,310)Tennessee QB Heath Shuler (688)1,662 points
4. 1991, Michigan WR Desmond Howard (2,077)FSU QB Casey Weldon (503)1,574 points
5. 1998, Texas RB Ricky Williams (2,355)Kansas State QB Michael Bishop (792)1,563 points
6. 1986, Miami QB Vinny Testaverde (2,213)Temple RB Paul Palmer (672)1,541 points
7. 1955, Ohio State RB Howard Cassady (2,219)TCU RB Jim Swink (742)1,475 points
8. 1963, Navy QB Roger Staubach (1,860)Georgia Tech QB Billy Lothridge (504)1,356 points
9. 1951, Princeton RB Dick Kazmaier (1,777)Tennessee RB Hank Lauricella (424)1,353 points
10. 1959, LSU RB Billy Cannon (1929)Penn State QB Richie Lucas (613)1,316 points

Olin Buchanan is a senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.



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