Thanks to a sizable bloc of sanctimonious voters, it wasn’t a record-breaking night in New York City for Cam Newton, but it sure the hell was a runaway one.
As expected. And deserved.
In one of the least surprising Heisman votes in the past (fill in number of years/decades here), the Auburn quarterback capped his brilliant on-the-field performance in 2010 by being named as the 76th winner of the Heisman Trophy. The junior joins Bo Jackson and Pat Sullivan as the only players in school history to win the award.
“Thank you to the Auburn family,” Newton said in statements distributed by the school. “Thank you for all the support that you have given me during these trying times. I also want to give a special thanks to my teammates. Without those guys I wouldn’t be here right now getting the recognition.”
“There is no question that Cameron is highly deserving of the most prestigious honor in college football, and I am so proud of him,” said head coach Gene Chizik. “Not only has Cam been the best player in college football this year, he has also been an incredible leader for our football team. Winning the Heisman Trophy is also a tremendous honor for our entire football team, our coaches and our support staff. This is a special day for Cam and for Auburn University, and I feel blessed to be a small part of it.”
Newton’s domination in the voting matched his play in the first 13 games of the Tigers’ unbeaten season; he finished with 2263 points, 1,184 points ahead of the second-place finisher.
The fact that Newton lapped the field was far from a surprise; the only question, really, heading into the ceremony was whether or not he would break percentage records in categories like margin of victory and first-place votes. That didn’t happen, thanks again to the 105 (out of 886) sanctimonious ones that didn’t include him on their ballots. It was still an overwhelming win for Newton — 11th biggest margin of victory, and his point total was sixth highest — and an emotional one as well as he appeared on the verge of tears several times while making his acceptance speech.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the order the other three finalists fell in behind Newton. In somewhat of a mild upset, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck finished as the 2010 Heisman runner-up. It’s the second straight year a Cardinal player finished second in the voting; running back Toby Gerhart finished No. 2 in 2009 to Alabama’s Mark Ingram in the closest vote in Heisman history.
Oregon running back LaMichael James, thought to be a near lock for No. 2, finished third in the voting, followed by Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.
While they weren’t in New York City for the ceremony, Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, Michigan’s Denard Robinson, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick, TCU’s Andy Dalton and Stanford’s Owen Marecic rounded out the top ten.
In the end, it wasn’t a record-breaking win for Newton, but the hardware ended up in the right set of hands. Even all of the noise swirling around the NCAA’s investigation into his recruitment couldn’t drown out one of the most brilliant displays of football seen at the collegiate level in many a year.
Who knows whether he’ll get to keep the Heisman, but there’s little doubt that, based on the evidence available both on and off the field, he’s worthy in the here and now.
The Heisman voters got it right, but they didn’t get it as right as they could have. Or should have.
UPDATED 10:39 p.m. ET: Here are the expanded vote totals for the top ten in this year’s Heisman race.