We take a look at the final list of 2010 Heisman Trophy contenders, and analyze each ones chances of taking home the hardware in New York City on Saturday night.
Cam "Cameron" Newton, QB, Auburn
Weeks ago, we proclaimed in this space that the rebranding of Cam Newton was complete. A Heisman Trophy and a shot at the national title game certainly complete the picture, but there's a largely unquantifiable modifier in play here, and that's how voters will be interpreting the first sentence of the Heisman Trophy Trust's mission statement:
The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.
The Heisman Trophy is for amateurs. Cam Newton is the most outstanding player in college football. He may also not be an amateur, and the investigation into his status remains open. Voters on both sides of this aisle have logical cover for their choices.
While we're on the subject of integrity, however:
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
The nation's most aesthetically thrilling back to watch in flight, this Duck has sailed in the lofty company of Heisman Trophy finalist locks almost since the start of the season -- and it's only "almost" because when Oregon kicked off its 2010 campaign against New Mexico, James was serving a one-game suspension stemming from his arrest in a domestic disturbance.
The lesson here being that if you're going to screw up, do it early, or don't get caught, or be so good you transcend your troubles in the eyes of your voting bloc. (And getting to the national title game helps.)
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Luck is here thanks to separating himself from the peloton of brawny, prototypical NFL quarterbacks that led the list of Heisman candidates to begin the season. With Jake Locker's team-effort collapse (to say nothing of his injuries) and Ryan Mallett's failure to make the SEC Championship Game (though he did get a Sugar Bowl berth for his troubles), Luck was the logical pick of the pack.
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
A delight of a pure passer in a system melded perfectly with his talents, the sterling record is marred only by the fact that he plays for a mid-major team (which is apparently barely considered football at all, judging by the number of worthy candidates snubbed for their lack of BCS berths), compounded by the Broncos' late collapse last month against Nevada. (Which wasn't even Moore's fault, but as the chestnut knock on the Heisman process reminds us: Being the best player is good. Being on the best team is better.)
THE DEAREST DEPARTED
Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
If we ran the zoo, the Angry Ostrich would've received a summons to New York with a quickness. The senior dual-threat paragon rushed for over 100 yards five times this season, and is 94 yards away from recording a 10,000-yard passing career with the Wolf Pack, a mark he'll surely blow by with a quickness in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against Boston college.