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Writer: SEC Athletic Directors Must’ve Been Voting Against Cecil Newton

Since the SEC started handing out a “Male Athlete of the Year” Award back in 1976, every SEC Heisman Trophy winner has walked away with the conference’s top prize, too.  Except for the last guy to win the award — Cam Newton.

Instead of Newton, Tennessee tennis player John-Patrick Smith won the top male award.  And that’s left Mark McCarter of The Huntsville Times looking for answers in an excellent column on the subject:

“No offense to John-Patrick Smith, but voting for him over Newton for this award is like voting a guy playing the kazoo over Springsteen on ‘American Idol.’

Smith is obviously an accomplished athlete.  He’s won academic honors as well as his athletic awards.  He opted to stick around UT and finish his degree rather than leave early for pro tennis.  He’s probably a terrific guy who is kind to old people and knows which is the salad fork and which is the dinner fork.

But he didn’t even reach the NCAA quarterfinals.  He finished ranked #10 in the nation in singles tennis.

That isn’t being ranked #1 among players in college football.

Makes me believe the SEC ADs voted against Rev. Cecil Newton — not for John-Patrick Smith.

Makes me believe the SEC ADs, at least enough of them to swing the vote, were impacted by the controversy involving Cecil Newton’s alleged pay-for-play deal for involving Cam and decided to shun him.

There could be no other reason.”

Well, not exactly.  Rather than trying to “shun” Newton, the league’s ADs could’ve been trying to protect the SEC’s reputation against the possibility of the proverbial “other shoe” dropping in the future.  Better to give the award to someone else than to give it to the man most deserving… only to have to take it away later.

That said, if that was the logic used by athletic directors in this vote, it leaves a lot up to assumption.  They’re assuming the NCAA will eventually dig up something concrete on Newton, his daddy, Auburn (or Mississippi State) and — as of yet — that simply hasn’t happened.  Not even with NCAA investigators, internet sleuths and rapid Bama fans working the Newton case 24/7.

In our view, the SEC and NCAA ruled Newton eligible to play prior to the SEC Championship Game.  If the league says he’s clean — and he’s clean at the time of the voting for his honor — he should win the honor.  Well, as of voting day, he was clean.  We would’ve given him the award.

But not giving him the trophy doesn’t mean ADs were trying to punish him.  It could be that they were just trying to save themselves from potential embarrassment down the road, a la Reggie Bush.


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