I don’t like it that ESPN was granted an opportunity those of us who cover Auburn every day were not, but I understand. Nobody from Auburn wanted quarterback Cam Newton to be grilled on stage during ESPN's College Football Awards Show.
Phillip Marshall, Senior Editor, Phillip Marshall
What I don’t understand is why that wasn’t enough.
Newton swept every award for which he was a finalist, and in ever instance the interviewers on stage referred to – either directly or by implication – the controversy of the past month. In my mind, there was just no need for that.
The interview was a journalistic exercise. Chris Fowler did a good job. He asked hard questions, but he asked them in a professional and non-judgmental way. The awards show was not a journalistic exercise and should not have been treated as one.
But nothing people do in the coverage of Newton surprises me anymore.
Newton, as he always does, handled himself with grace. In stark contrast to Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s demand for attention, Newton quickly gave credit to others, particularly his offensive line.
A day before Newton credited everyone but himself, here’s what Pryor told The Chicago Tribune in comparing himself to other quarterbacks up for awards:
"I'll put it like this: You put me in any of their offenses - any of them - and I'd dominate. They carry the ball 30 times a game. I carry the ball maybe five times. There are times I didn't even run the ball in a game. You put me in any of their offenses, where I can run the ball and have a choice to throw, I would dominate college football."
No matter what anyone believes or doesn’t, what is beyond question is that Newton has endured more scrutiny and more criticism than any college football player in my experience. The NCAA says there is no evidence he did anything wrong. The SEC says there is no evidence he did anything wrong. And still it continues.
Despite all that, the awards show is further evidence that no college football player ever had a better season than Newton has had. The Heisman Trophy presentation will be yet further proof. And if he leads Auburn to a victory over Oregon and the national championship, there won’t even be room for debate.