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THE FRONT ROW with JASON ELLIOTT Dec. 11, 2010

| December 11, 2010 8:00 PM

There are plenty of reasons why Auburn quarterback Cam Newton will win the Heisman Trophy tonight.

But for all of them, there is probably the same reasons why he shouldn't get the award, exactly why paying players should be examined again.

NEWTON HAS turned this season into a career year, leading the SEC champion Tigers into the BCS national championship game in Glendale, Ariz.

He also helped lead Blinn College of Brenham, Texas, to the NJCAA title last year after leaving the University of Florida the previous season after being arrested and later kicked off the team.

Of the four candidates that have been invited to New York, including Kellen Moore of Boise State, Andrew Luck of Stanford, LaMichael James of Oregon and Newton, his numbers are far and away the best of anyone playing this year.

And although a win by Moore could be viewed as some sort of redemption for the Boise State program from missing out on a BCS game, don't expect it to happen either.

As the season unfolded, Newton was the best player, having the best season and leading what was then the best team.

Then in early November, reports began to surface of Newton being involved in a pay-to-play deal with another school, though nothing has been pinned on him with Auburn quite yet.

THROUGH IT all, Newton has remained on the field for Auburn, although his eligibility has came into question a couple times.

When rumors about Southern California running back Reggie Bush receiving improper benefits, he ended up returning his Heisman after being ruled ineligible.

So why not just eliminate the middle man here - just start paying the players.

When players are unable to hold down full-time jobs because of practice schedules, or because of classes or other obligations to the school, including classes and homework.

By the time some players are good enough to play at the professional level, they leave for either the NBA or NFL to collect a big paycheck.

CHANCES ARE, paying players to compete at the college level will never happen.

Mainly, because those athletes are at school to learn - not to negotiate a rookie contract.

Either on a basketball floor or the football field, once a player begins to have some success, the belief that they are doing it for the love of the game will disappear for me.

Whoever wins the Heisman tonight will likely go on to earn more money in their football career than they'll know what to do with.

If they haven't already.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d'Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via e-mail at jelliott@cdapress.com.

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