Bernstein: I’m Still Voting Newton For Heisman

Yes, I have a Heisman ballot.

Go ahead and get your bewilderment out of the way, and make your comments about how little we talk college football on the show. We live in Chicago, goobers. It’s a big city — a professional one.

The name atop my ballot at the moment is that of Auburn Quarterback Cameron Newton.

Newton is in the process of leading his team to a perfect record with both his arm and his feet. He has thrown for 1890 yards and 19 touchdowns. He has run for 1146 yards and 15 TDs. He is the best player in college football.

Numerous reports, however, allege that his recruitment was auctioned between Auburn and Mississippi State. He bounced from Florida to a JuCo due to multiple accusations of academic cheating and an incident involving a stolen computer.

All of it may be true, and none of it means he isn’t the best player in college football this year.

Here’s what the Heisman Trust’s official website says in its mission statement: “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”

The key word, you see, is “performance.”

It is entirely possible that both his choice of program and academic record are stained by actions that fall outside the criterion of “integrity,” but I am not being asked to vote on that. I am asked to vote on the best performance, and Newton’s is unquestioned.

And we don’t really have to argue semantics. We’re talking major-college sports, where billions of dollars of revenue are at stake and more players than we know have been induced to attend school with big bags of cash, and kept happy with more goodies while there. There are venal coaches running outlaw programs, and there are good coaches who have no idea what wealthy boosters are doing, and don’t want to know.

(Even the venerated UCLA basketball teams of John Wooden – the ones about which paeans have been sung, books written and statues built to honor their collegiate glory – were dirty beyond belief. Look up “Papa Sam” Gilbert.)

I voted for Reggie Bush in 2005. Bush was later found to have been playing professionally, essentially, while at USC. The school has since been penalized and Bush returned his trophy voluntarily.

Do you really want to dig into the all-time list of winners? Do you really want to know everything about every recruitment and college career so we can retroactively determine who gets to keep their award? I’ll answer that – you don’t.

Given the chance, I’d vote for Bush again. I never demanded he return his Heisman. Unless I am directly instructed that a player is ineligible for the ballot, I am voting for the best player that season.

This is not like the issue facing Baseball Hall of Fame voters, who must decide on the validity and integrity of a player’s actual performance when considering the effects of drugs.

How Cam Newton got to Auburn is not material to what he is doing on the field. When I am asked to vote on recruiting practices and conformity to arcane NCAA rules, I’ll be happy to do so.

Newton is eligible for my vote, and he has it.

More from The Boers and Bernstein Show
  • Chicago Tough

    Come on Bernstine that’s 2 blogs in a row with no concussion talk. What’s going on here?


    Hear hear!

    And, until something happens in South Bend, the NCAA can holster their pieces for the time being.
    Dangerous game, and they’re worried that someone may have not gotten a recruit for whatever reasons. If you read accusations more than twice, and still don’t understand them, do they bear pursuing. “You see, he could have been blah blah blah.”
    Paging Dr. Goodhockey. We are looking for Dr. Goodhockey

  • mad as hell fan.....

    college sports are loaded with cheats/liars/thieves, nothing to see here move along. As Whitlock tweeted……Cam Newton = Dope on the table. If you watch the Wire you know exactly what that means.

  • Denver Smeghead

    “Yes, I have a Heisman ballot.”

    Yes, I am bewildered by this, and rightfully so. In the past, Bernstein has show a particular disdain for the college level of sports, which makes me wonder why he would want to vote at all.

    And Bernstein is entirely misreading what the Heisman website says, because if there’s one thing Newton is not doing, it’s pursuing excellence with integrity. Newton has already shown a lack of integrity in the past, and the smoke indicates that he still doesn’t have any. Nor does his father.

    Do I need to go over every Heisman winner in the past? No. But then, this is the here and now. And the here and now leads me to believe that if you give Newton the Heisman, it won’t be 5 years like with Bush before he’s giving it back.

  • 2nd Half Adjustments

    Just because something ‘is’ a certain way doesn’t mean you have to reward the illicit behavior and actions of those who participate in the system. Try being above it. And I’d still argue that Shoelaces should get some votes. ‘Cept for the suckage that is the Michigan line.

  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    THANK YOU to our Vets and men/women on active duty.

  • bronzo

    Wow …for a change I actually agree 100% with Bernsie. I am not interested in how how he got to Auburn …and the NCAA is one of the most irrevelant governing bodies with less integrity than a Cook county politician. Does any of this collateral and yet to be proven stuff about Newton matter? NO as far as I’m concerned.

  • bronzo

    Absolutly Chet hats off to our Veterans…

  • Mr. Justice

    Those who agree with Bernsie show their character. It seems that many people no longer think integrity is important in life. Those of you who agree with Bernsie seem to show your lack of integrity. The key word is not “performance” but rather the key phrase is “exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”

  • bronzo

    I bet you went to Notre Dame “Mr. Justice” Sorry we all lack your “character”. I’m just a fan. Not here to “Judge”

    • Denver Smeghead

      “I bet you went to Notre Dame “Mr. Justice””

      What the frell does that have to do with anything? You might as well accused him of going to Florida or MSU for all the sense (re: none at all) it makes.

  • Chicago JB

    I’m not riping you, but I’m truly curious… how many college football games do you watch? 1 a week, at most? Not even in its entirety? It just doesn’t seem right to give a Heisman vote to someone that doesn’t watch a lot, but I know there are a lot of people just like you who vote. Suh should’ve won last year, but people in the Northwest that didn’t get to watch him voted for Tebow and McCoy because of their names from the previous years. It proves that the Heisman is just a product of who ever gets the most of the ESPN hype machine.

    • D.O.

      If I’m remembering correctly, Berstein voted for Suh last year. He may not watch nearly as much college football as pro, but his heisman choices have seemed good ones to me.

      • Chicago JB

        I’m sure he did vote for Suh last year (he said something about his family having ties to Nebraska so I’m sure he watched him). But the point remains, you get a guy like Kellen Moore who he maybe watched for a half at most against Va Tech, or LaMichael James. Has Bernstein watched LaMichael James? Have most Heisman voters? I’d seriously doubt it, at least more than a game of him. However, Newton is the talk on ESPN and he’s in SEC country so he gets all the hype. That’s all it is.

  • bronzo

    I honestly watch 3 or 4 games a week. I love college football.

  • Chicago JB

    I was asking that to Bernstein, Bronzo… I know he sometimes browses this so I was just curious if he would mention how often he watches college football. My guess is not a whole lot.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    post: part 1 of 2

    i’m so torn on this subject, i like cam newton, and i would vote him for the heisman if i had a vote, or would I???

    i know what the heisman trust mission statement says: “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity”.

    i think that based on performance, newton is the obvious choice, and based on that alone, i would vote for him. but what goes on in the players recruitment is what makes him eligible to play. and if auburn paid him to come to their school, is that fair? and would newton be leading the heisman chase if he were at MISS STATE? probably not.

    but who am i to judge what goes on off the field? should i just vote for who has had the best “performance” and leave the “integrity” part to the NCAA? i’m sure they’ll take care of cam & auburn 5 years down the road. i don’t want to dig into the past heisman winners and look for violations, am i going to go back to the 40’s and look for that kind of stuff? how am i supposed to know which guys weren’t eligible and who was? i obviously know bush was tainted at USC, but he did have the best year out of anybody that season, so does it really matter if the kid was eligible or not? just what he does on the field is important, and even though bush gave back his trophy, we’ll all still remember bush as the heisman winner.

  • bronzo

    sorry about that JB..I think you are right by the way in regards to Bernsies’ college footbal watching habits

  • Jon, Montgomery

    post: part 2 of 3

    so if auburn ends up winning the title game and newton wins the heisman… will it be tainted if they collect this evidence? i think so. but that’s for the NCAA to decide. after all, it’s not like they were stealing coaching signs or on steriods, they just had one player who carried them to a title game. so what should a heisman voter do?

    i don’t know what the interpitation of “integrity” is for this situation, but it’s obvious that something was amiss when auburn recruited newton, but i believe after looking at all the angles, that voters should vote for the best player, and let the NCAA decide whether or not it was okay for newton to win. and 5 years down the road… if the NCAA has taken away newton’s heisman and a possible national title by auburn, we’ll all still remember them as the way they were, auburn winning, and newton as the best player that season. just like bush and USC. it’s not my responsability to make sure ineligible players don’t win the heisman, it should be the NCAA’s.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    hello? it won’t let me post part 3

  • Jon, Montgomery

    part 3 of 4

    clamp down on schools paying players under the table to get players to come to their schools, it’s your responsability, if you would stop turning a blind eye to these crooked programs, (especially in the SEC), then maybe i wouldn’t have ANY issue voting for newton, if you let auburn recruit newton, then i’m going to assume he’s eligible, i’ll take care of my part and vote for the best player, which this year… is cam newton in my opinion. you NCAA, take care of whether it’s okay for him to be there.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    part 4 of 4

    by the way, like i said, would cam newton be having the same year with MISS STATE? probably not. so obviously neither auburn nor MISS STATE would be in the top 10, so this leads me to ponder…. how many more ways can boise state get scr#wed?

    and this is lame i had to post this in 4 things. stinkin’ character count probably.

  • Jake from Da Burbs


    I disagree with your assertions. The mission statement clearly states the underlying criterion for which “Performance” should be based on and hence considered when voting; that is: Pursuit of Excellence with Integrity. Thus the Hiesman Trust is telling you as a voter that Performance and Pursuit of Excellence with Integrity are not unrelated considerations when awarding the Hiesman. To extract the word Performance out of a Mission statement while basically disregarding the background context and premise is a disservice of votership to the Hiesman.

    Furthermore, the reason why “Integrity” is so important in Newton’s case here is not based on his youthful indiscretions that allegedly involve cheating on tests or stealing computers. But the primary allegation of “cash for play” is a clear violation of NCAA rules and thus also thretens the very premise of your vote: His Eligibility. Newton has clearly been one of the top college football players this year but if his eligibility is in question, then it might also nullify his accomplishments. Its the equivalent of voting for the clear, best candidate into Presidential office whose eligibility to run for office is in question. It demands a responsible voter to hesitate, if not withdraw completely till more information is ascertained.

    To publicly state your full intention right now to vote for Newton despite all the uncertainty and concern is irresponsible.

    Just my $0.02

  • AT3374

    So will we have talk about the big showdown between Bears and Vikes on the show or this ? Boring .

  • Jon, Montgomery

    either that or rose turf toe talk. B&B have been really boring lately with their shows. but that seems to happen in the middle of bears season.

  • meesohawnee

    Way to go Bernstein!! Agreed.

  • BearsFanInHoustonTX

    Overrated trophy! Means nothing come time to play with the big dogs in the NFL. Besides, until defensive players are more in the mix…it means nothing to me to see who ESPN makes you all vote for. Besides, it is to cover ALL college football players….but those who vote don’t take or have the time to watch EVERY game and EVERY good player out there.
    And to MR. Montgomery….the SEC is NOT the only conference with issues….please understand that….it is like corporations…some get caught…and some don’t….
    And, Hey Chet…your welcome! I am a proud vetern! US NAVY

  • Glockster

    I’m pretty much in agreement with Bernstein on this one. I fully understand that big time college sports programs are basically professional teams with the name of a university on the front of their jerseys and that many of the players do not care about education and feigning some outrage about that really just makes me sound like an old man and isn’t a particularly good use of my time. When I turn on college football, I want to see the best players who aren’t old enough for the NFL playing football. Whether or not said players are getting money, cars, etc. from coaches or boosters does not make the least bit of difference in my enjoyment of the game. As far as I’m concerned, if Newton is the best, he gets the trophy. And then I’ll look forward to watching him on Sunday he will no longer have to pretend that he is something he isn’t. And don’t get me started about the NBA’s rules…

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