Auburn comes up empty-handed at ESPYs

July, 14, 2011
7/14/11
10:00
AM ET
The ESPYs have come and gone. There were some good laughs (especially at the expense of the Miami Heat) and there were a few very touching moments.

I literally got chills when Dewey Bozella was presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. And watching Abby Wambach's header against Brazil never got old. (Congrats to the fans for voting that as the play of the year. You got it right.)

But one thing that I found particularly interesting was how Auburn's football team failed to grab any of the five awards it was up for this year.

For starters, I can understand the Tigers not getting best team. The Dallas Mavericks were spectacular in the playoffs, especially after nearly everyone had them bowing out in the first round. Plus, they took down the Heat, and most of the country became temporary Dallas fans for the NBA Finals. I get it, and I'm fine with it.

But where was the love for Cam Newton? Controversy aside, all he did was win the Heisman Trophy after passing for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns while leading the SEC with 1,473 rushing yards and 20 more scores. Newton had a SEC record 4,327 total yards of offense last season. He set the SEC single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback and he was the third player in SEC history with at least 4,000 yards in a season and the first with 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season. All of that was good enough to catapult him into becoming the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

Oh, and he was the backbone of a Tigers team that went 14-0 and captured a national championship.

He went 0-for-2 Wednesday, failing to grab the awards for Best Breakthrough Athlete (Blake Griffin) and Best Male College Athlete (Jimmer Fredette).

Griffin was great to watch this season, especially because he played for the Los Angeles Clippers. It seems like he dunked on every single NBA player last season. He was the NBA's rookie of the year, averaging 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds a game and was the first rookie to appear in an NBA All-Star Game since Yao Ming in 2003.

That's great. It really is. But everyone knew about Griffin before he played last season. We all knew who he was during his final year at Oklahoma. Newton? You only really knew about him if you followed Florida and Auburn. What he did with very minimal real college football experience was tremendous.

And Jimmer was great this year as well. At BYU, he led the nation in scoring with 28.5 points a game and was one of the most clutch players around. I tuned into BYU games for the first time ever just to watch him.

I understand Newton's career at Auburn is clouded by an ongoing investigation by the NCAA. Even if the NCAA never finds Newton in the wrong, his career will always be tainted because of the actions of his father, Cecil. It's not fair, but it's the nature of sports. But it's also not fair for Newton's abilities on the field to be overlooked at the same time. We could spend all day debating Cam Newton's innocence or guilt, but there is no arguing that he was the best player every time he took the field in 2010. That is something even the SEC athletic directors forgot.

I was shocked to see Auburn's comeback win over Alabama not win Best Game. Eagles over the Giants? Come on, man! The Tigers erased a 24-point deficit to its biggest rival in one of the most hostile environments in college sports. For shame.

Auburn also lost out on Best Team (Mavericks) and Best Coach/Manager (Rick Carlisle).

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