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November 12, 2010

Will Newton allegations impact Heisman race?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in college football.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Are the allegations against Auburn QB Cameron Newton going to have any effect on the Heisman race?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
The allegations are sure to have some impact. In fact, they already have. Some Heisman voters already have stated they wouldn't vote for Newton and risk the trophy being further disgraced like it was in the Reggie Bush scandal. Others have gone so far as to urge voters not to cast a ballot for Newton and have started a campaign for Boise State's Kellen Moore. I am a Heisman voter and I will still vote for Newton until there is concrete proof that he accepted money. What if it turns out that the allegations are false and he didn't win the trophy he deserved based on accusations? I will keep a close watch, and if more evidence mounts, I won't hesitate to vote for another contender.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
They shouldn't, but I think the allegations will impact Newton's chances of winning the Heisman. Voters need to remember that like everyone who is accused of wrong-doing, Newton is innocent until proven guilty. If the Heisman Trust needs to go back and take away the award in the future -- as it did with USC's Reggie Bush -- then so be it. It would be more tragic if voters denied Newton the Heisman and it turns out he's innocent of all of these allegations. For now, Newton is eligible to win the Heisman and should be awarded that honor if he remains eligible through the voting deadline.

David Fox's answer:
The only way the allegations will affect the Heisman race are if Newton is ineligible or if the distractions cause him to slip up against Georgia, Alabama or in the SEC championship game. While some voters have said they won't vote for Newton, others have said it's not the job of voters to judge Newton's eligibility. The allegations may cut into Newton's lead, but ultimately I imagine Heisman voters will vote for Newton as long as he's eligible. The SEC and NCAA are privy to more information on Newton's off-field issues than the average Heisman voter. When it comes time to vote, I imagine most will vote for what they've witnessed on the field, not for what they've read in the news.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Yes, they are going to have an impact. Already, you have voters saying Newton won't be on their ballots. Still, I think the majority of voters are going to realize that these are allegations, and unless the NCAA rules quickly -- the chances of that happening are roughly akin to the chance of Nancy Pelosi leaving Congress and getting hired by Fox News -- those voters are going to go by what happened on the field. In that scenario, barring a meltdown by Newton against Georgia, Alabama or in the SEC championship game and/or a few mind-blowing games from LaMichael James, I'd say Newton still has a better-than-even chance at winning the award.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I'm sure the allegations will have at least some effect. Let's work on the assumption that we don't have any more major news developments in this case between now and December. As long as Newton avoids a poor performance against Georgia or Alabama, I'd expect him to receive the most first-place votes. He seemed on his way to winning the award in a rout before these accusations were revealed. I have to think the vast majority of voters who aren't going to take the off-field issues under consideration will have Newton atop their ballots. But I also would bet that plenty of voters won't have Newton on their ballots at all in an attempt to avoid the possibility of another Reggie Bush-type situation in which the Heisman winner eventually has to give up the award. It wouldn't surprise me if Newton gets the most first-place votes and still ends up behind LaMichael James or Kellen Moore in the final balloting.

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