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Auburn's Newton wins Heisman in landslide

Quarterback Cam Newton of the Auburn University Tigers

Quarterback Cam Newton of the Auburn University Tigers speaks after being named the 76th Heisman Memorial Trophy Award winner at the Best Buy Theater. (Dec. 11, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Everyone knew it was a foregone conclusion - except Cam Newton.

For the first time this season, the Auburn quarterback seemed taken aback and off his game, struggling to find the right words.

Game-time heroics trumped off-the-field transgressions last night, as Newton - the clear favorite - bested Stanford's Andrew Luck, Oregon's LaMichael James and Boise State's Kellen Moore for the 76th Heisman Trophy Award.

Newton received 729 first-place votes (78.7 percent) - the third-highest percentage in Heisman history behind Troy Smith in 2006 and Charlie Ward in 1993. Newton finished with 2,263 points.

Luck was runner-up to Newton with 1,079 points and 78 first-place votes, followed by James (916 points) and Moore (635 points).

The announcement was anticlimactic, but Newton was nonetheless overwhelmed. After he kissed his mother, Jackie, he lowered his head and whispered "Oh my God" before addressing the crowd at the podium. He paused several times during his speech, unsure of what to say. The stillness in the room was broken when someone shouted "We love you Cam" from the back of the room, prompting Newton to smile and the audience to applaud.

"I wasn't nervous," Newton said. "It was just a lot of words going through my head."

For months, Newton was the clear favorite, despite numerous off-the-field incidents that still threaten to tarnish his collegiate career.

Most recently, the NCAA found his father, Cecil, guilty of engaging in a pay-to-play scheme for his son, who at the time was deciding between Auburn and Mississippi State. As a result, Auburn limited Cecil Newton's access to the athletic program and on Thursday he released a statement through his attorney saying he wouldn't attend the ceremony for fear of being a distraction.

Newton said he was "hurt" by his father's decision, but ultimately understood. "I love my father," he said. "He gave me some words of encouragement before I came here and I know he's with me here in spirit."

Newton said when he embraced his mother, he "really didn't want to let go. It's been hard for me but it's been extremely hard for her just to see how much her son has been through. I just wanted to hug her the whole night, just make her feel at ease, knowing that it's over for this particular moment of our lives."

Ultimately, the questions surrounding Newton's integrity couldn't overshadow his playmaking ability. The junior quarterback compiled a highlight reel of jaw-dropping plays, en route to throwing 2,589 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Newton, who finished with a 188.2 QB rating, also rushed for 1,409 yards and 20 TDs, becoming just the third player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to throw and rush for at least 20 TDs in a single season.

His next challenge will be leading No. 1 ranked Auburn against No. 2 Oregon in the BCS national championship in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 10.

But even in the afterglow of his Heisman acceptance, Newton's off-the-field issues were brought up. Asked if he's worried about the ongoing NCAA investigation, Newton said, "I have two letters for you my friend: No."

Bo Jackson, a former Auburn running back who won the Heisman Trophy 25 years ago, said he was impressed by Newton's leadership.

"He's the type of guy I would want on my team," Jackson said. "He's the type of guy anyone would want on their team."

Last night, Newton was happy to join the Heisman team.

"This whole thing right now is just beyond me right now," he said. "I feel like I'm in a dream. I'm just a blessed individual."

New York Sports