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Why Andrew Luck Should Win Heisman Trophy Over Cam Newton

I understand the concept of integrity means little to many of you. I understand that the idea of amateurism means even less. But for some people, most notably the Heisman Trophy Trust, those two ideals are incredibly important and they’re the reasons why Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck should win the Heisman Trophy over Cam Newton, who was the most outstanding player in college football.

Because most people don’t bother to do the research and understand what the significance of certain awards are, here is the Heisman Trust’s Mission Statement:

The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and integrity of this award. The Trust, furthermore, has a charitable mission to support amateur athletics and to provide greater opportunities to the youth of our country.

Cam Newton was an incredible player for Auburn and led them to a 13-0 season and appearance in the National Championship Game. Newton threw for 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions while rushing for 1,409 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was a one-man wrecking crew and the best player in college football. The problem is his pursuit of excellence was not done with integrity, and it undermined amateur athletics.

We know that Cam Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, shopped his son to Mississippi State. The NCAA has ruled Cam eligible saying he didn’t know what his father was doing. That’s fair because we don’t have enough information to determine whether or not Cam knew. The problem is the child is still supposed to be responsible for what the parents do because that’s the only way to prevent parents from undermining the amateur status of players. And yes, although many people argue that college players should be paid, I’m emphatically against that idea.

After Cam Newton, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was the next most outstanding player in college football. Luck threw for 3,051 yards, 28 touchdowns, and seven interceptions and led Stanford to an 11-1 season, their best year since 1940. Stanford scored at least 31 points in all but one of their games, and he helped the Cardinal run through rival Cal 48-14.

LaMichael James and Kellen Moore both had excellent seasons, but neither player was as outstanding as Luck. As fantastic as James is, Oregon’s offense would have allowed other backs to have similar levels of success (backup Kenjon Barner averaged more yards per carry in the same system). With Moore, he had a great year but his team’s success was due to the defense at least as much as the offense. Additionally, Moore played against the weakest competition by far, allowing his numbers to be better than they likely would have been if he played in a different conference.

Cam Newton was the most outstanding player in college football, but his accomplishments do not fall within the mission of the Heisman Trust. That means for the second year in a row, the Heisman Trophy should have gone to a Stanford player.


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  • Anonymous

    The NFL draft will tell you which is better

  • Gene

    Good post. I like your reasoning and agree with it. In a few years, let’s see whether Cam Newton and his dad have done even more shady things and how much it will cost Auburn. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck will be an up and coming star in the NFL.

  • Believelander

    This comment is coming from a man who is firmly entrenched in the idea that college players should be ‘paid’.
    I feel that your post is completely correct. Cam Newton’s father auctioned his son off to the highest bidder, and “I didn’t know” is the thinnest and most unprovable alibi in the book. In addition, as you said, the rules (ones that other teams’ players have to follow when they break them, like the OSU players who ‘didn’t know’ they couldn’t hock their gear) should apply because they say that if Cam Newton’s dad broke the rules, Cam Newton needs to pay for it, whether he knew or not.
    To bring my point around, I’m on the moderate side of the ‘pay the players’ argument; I feel that college players who get ‘paid’ a free college education (while making their university much more money than their uni spends on them) should be ‘paid’ a stipend by the NCAA to essentially ensure that they are financially independent of their families and of the need to take a job (or hock your gear, or illegally receive money from a university/scout/etc). The NCAA gets billions of dollars for free on the hard work of these youth, while these kids don’t truly even get a ‘free’ college ride in many cases. And the kind of stipend I feel the NCAA should pay them is just that, a stipend, in line with a few hundred dollars per week.
    As such, the organization would seem like much less of a bunch of sanctimonious, blowhard hypocrites, and would have more authority to better guide its regulations.
    Amateurism is all well and grand, but these ‘student-athletes’ have been transformed into ‘athlete-students’, and for the 99+% who aren’t going to make it to the big time, they’re still expected to work 80+ hours a week as part of their team, their education be damned. It’s a joke, and for all the kids who fall behind in their studies and their sports scholarships dry up, it’s a problem. So as much as I appreciate the idealism of the stance of ‘true’ amateurism, the ideal means diddly squat. Less than nothing. The NCAA and universities rake in billions, and most of the kids who work for them for free never see a cent of reward for it.
    That’s not amateurism, it’s exploitation.