NEW YORK (AP) — Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy — as if there was any doubt.
Whether he gets to keep it is still to be determined.
Auburn’s hulking quarterback brushed off an NCAA investigation of his recruitment as he did so many tacklers this season and captured college football’s biggest individual award Saturday night in a landslide vote.
“Honestly, it’s a dream come true for me, something every child has a dream that plays the sport of football, and I’m living testimony that anything is possible,” Newton said.
Newton, the third player from Auburn to win the Heisman, received 729 first-place votes and outpointed runner-up Andrew Luck of Stanford by 1,184 points.
Oregon running back LaMichael James was third, followed by Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, the other finalist.
On the field and off, Newton has been the story of the college football season. He’s carried the top-ranked Tigers to the BCS national championship game against No. 2 Oregon, running and passing over opponents who looked helpless trying to stop him. But his story is stained: Recently, the NCAA determined his father tried to peddle him to Mississippi State for cash.
Not even that ruling stopped Newton. The NCAA cleared him to play before the Southeastern Conference title game because it found no evidence that he or Auburn knew about Cecil Newton’s pay-for-play scheme. It also suggested that it was still investigating. The FBI and the Mississippi secretary of state’s office also are looking into the case. Cam Newton has denied any wrongdoing.
Still, it invites speculation the newest Heisman winner could perhaps be heading down the same path as Reggie Bush, who returned his Heisman three months ago after the NCAA ruled that he and his family received cash and gifts while he was at Southern California.
To be eligible for the Heisman, a player must be in good standing with the NCAA. And for most of November, after news broke of claims by a Mississippi State booster who said Newton’s father tried to get the Bulldogs to pay $180,000 for his son to play for them, it was unclear if Cam was clean.
The NCAA didn’t punish Cam Newton but did say that Cecil Newton’s access to Auburn athletics would have to be limited.
What that means is unclear, but Cecil Newton did not attend the Heisman Trophy ceremony Saturday night. In a statement released by his lawyer earlier in the week, he said his presence could “rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment.”
Before winning the award, Cam Newton said: “He gave me some words of encouragement before I came here and I know he’s with me in spirit.”