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Question of the day: Will the suspicion surrounding Cam Newton hurt his Heisman chances?

Cam_500 

Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Desmond Conner, Hartford Courant

Unfortunately, it probably will for some and probably already has, but not for those of us who actually believe in that ridiculous statement: innocent until proven guilty.

Allegations are allegations. That's all they are. No beats skipped in my opinion. Cam Newton has this Heisman voter's vote.

He has led Auburn to a 10-0 start and a No. 2 ranking in the BCS poll.
He has passed for 1,890 yards (123-for-183, 67.2%) and 19 touchdowns with only five interceptions. He has rushed for 1,146 yards (6.5 a carry) and 16 touchdowns. He has averaged 303.6 yards a game in total offense. His team has scored 50 or more points in half its games.

Those are the facts. Right now the rest are allegations, so until proven...

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune

It was easy to blow off the first Cam Newton-might-be-dirty story. It was based on allegations put forth by a booster at a rival school. Chapter 2 brought ugly accusations of academic cheating at Florida. By not denying them, Newton actually gained some credibility in my book. Maybe Auburn had not attached a blank check to his scholarship offer.

But now, after Cecil Newton told ESPN.com he would neither “confirm nor deny” the latest charges of a play-for-pay plot involving his son, it’s time to step back.

No, it wouldn’t shock anyone that boosters or coaches at a competitive SEC school would drop six figures to hire the best player in college football. But if more evidence surfaces, I might feel compelled to leave Newton off my ballot. Glad I have until Dec. 6 to decide.

[Updated at 12:43 p.m.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times

It isn't a question of "if" Cam Newton's Heisman chances have been damaged by the various and disturbing pay-for-play allegations swirling around him this week.

There is no question many Heisman voters will be wary of casting a vote for a player who may end up being another Reggie Bush.

This may be unfair if the allegations are not true, but you can blame Bush for making every one a little bit more suspicious about players and the sleazy underworld of college football.

Remember, Bush's smile was as wide as Newton's and he denied allegations for years until an NCAA report as thick as a phone book told another story. USC is appealing some of those sanctions but did not contest the basic findings of guilt.

Do we want to go through that again? The difference here, of course, is the Newton allegations are not coming after the fact. They are happening in real time as the Auburn quarterback tries to lead his team to a national title.

Heisman voters I have spoken to are praying the Newton situation gets resolved one way or another before their votes are due in early December. They don't want the allegations lingering. They don't want another tainted outcome and another AD sending another trophy back to the Heisman Trust. They want resolution but may not get it.]

[Updated at 2:32 p.m.

Matt Murschel, Orlando

As much as I would like to believe that most of the Heisman Trophy voters would look past the recent suspicions about Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and vote based on straight performance, I know that’s not going to happen.

Internet rumors and anonymous sources are stronger than pure, hard facts these days, it seems, and in Newton’s case, it looks like it could be enough to derail his chances of winning college football’s highest honor. You can thank Reggie Bush for that one. His situation has voters scrutinizing players for even the slightest indiscretions.

The Heisman Trust’s mission statement says the award should go to the player who exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Until proven otherwise, Newton should be given a fair shake. It’s just unfortunate that he probably won’t.]

 

Photo: Cam Newton. Credit: Al Messerschmidt / Getty Images

 
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