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Jenni Carlson: Why Cameron Newton will win the Heisman without my vote

Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton is the best player in college football. Trouble is, the NCAA bylaws and Heisman Trophy rules make it clear he's not eligible for the award.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: December 9, 2010 at 9:40 am •  Published: December 8, 2010

Cam Newton is the best player in college football.

I just couldn't vote for him to win the Heisman.

This isn't some sort of protest vote. I'm not trying to make a statement about crooked parents or shady boosters or NCAA loopholes or cockamamie explanations or inexplicable exonerations. The reason I left the Auburn quarterback off my Heisman Trophy ballot is much simpler than that.

I'm not sure he's eligible to win the award.

On a night when Newton is sure to make several trips onto the stage at the College Football Awards Show, the trophies he wins tonight will be a precursor to Saturday night's coronation. Oh, I have no doubt that Newton will win the Heisman. He's a cinch, a shoo-in, a sure thing.

And I had every intention of voting for him when I sat down at my computer Monday afternoon to fill out my ballot.

I always like to take one last look at the candidates before voting, but Newton was a for sure No. 1. He not only threw for 28 touchdowns but also ran for 20 more, and he did it playing in the toughest conference in the land.

The only question I needed to answer was who else was going on my ballot. Oregon running back LaMichael James? Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck? Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon? Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore?

After poring over statistics and weighing my options, I finally decided how to vote: 1. Newton, 2. Luck, 3. Blackmon.

I typed in their names and their schools. I checked the spelling. All I needed to do was enter my email address so a confirmation letter could be sent my way, then hit the “Submit My Vote” button.

But I happened to glance at the top of the ballot and the bold words “Rules Governing the Vote” caught my eye.

I started reading.

“In order that there will be no misunderstanding regarding the eligibility of a candidate, the recipient of the award MUST be a bona fide student of an accredited college or university including the United States Academies. The recipient must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA Student-Athlete.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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