Sunday, October 31, 2010

Has Cam Newton Already Surpassed the Chosen One?

Perhaps this has been written about before, and I've missed it. But I've been talking to some of my closest college football confidants lately, and we keep circling back to the same subject: how awesome Cam Newton is. Week after week, he does something else to amaze us. Against LSU, he breaks free and blazes by every LSU defender for a 49 yard touchdown. This past weekend, he shows us that he can tightrope a touchdown catch.

Dude is incredible. On that we all agree.

But in these conversations, I've started tossing out a question that has brought some of my ordinarily strong-opinioned know-it-all buddies to a long pause. And it's an idea that I believe would make Gary Danielson cry.

Is Cam Newton better now than Tim Tebow ever was?

Some have reacted strongly that there's no way. We haven't seen enough of Cam yet. Maybe. But the fact that we've only seen Cam for eight games isn't fazing me. Tebow was a major benefactor of the amount of hype he received coming out of high school, and the ticker line tracking his every move during recruitment. The Tebow train started early.

Tim Tebow was recognized by media as the greatest college football player of all time as soon as he took his first shotgun snap in a Florida uniform. The talking heads loved this kid. And why shouldn't they have? Great athlete, good looking, great personality, and an unmatched off-field storyline. A broadcaster's dream.

And I'm not writing this to say that Tim Tebow wasn't great. He most certainly was. But I think the Gary Danielson and crew cheerleading Tebow as a "once in a generation" athlete and quarterback talk has been disproven in less than twelve months.

By a guy who was once Tim Tebow's teammate.

Before this season, Cam Newton wasn't exactly getting a lot of pub, as most of the attention statewide and nationally was whether or not Alabama was going to repeat as national champions or if Alabama was ever going to lose a football game again.

Now, just eight weeks in - is there even another option for the Heisman Trophy? USA Today is trying to tell me that Kellen Moore and LaMichael James still have a chance. Please save the ink.

To give you an idea of the type of impact Newton is having: last year, Auburn was 7-5 and won the Outback Bowl. Gene Chizik was the head coach, and even after the season no one had a clue why Auburn had hired the Iowa State coach that had only five wins in two years.

Now - if the season ended today, Auburn would be in the national title game. What was the difference between last year and this year? Pretty simple: #2.

Cam Newton showed up to play with a team that still has a quarterback playing wide receiver. That's Kentucky-like stuff.

This offensive line that so many of the talking heads are now praising as the best in the SEC? Auburn had ONE offensive lineman in the first or second team pre-season all-SEC.

Onterrio McCalebb and Michael Dyer have played very well, and Auburn did have a running back make preseason all-SEC. That running back was Mario Fannin, however. (Ha!)

You what kind of team Tim Tebow joined and took over as the quarterback when he was a sophomore? A team that had just won the national title his freshman year, and had players with names like Percy Harvin, Brandon James, Kestahn Moore, Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez, and others. (Chris Rainey didn't even see much of the field in '07: 1 carry, 10 yards. Florida was pretty good.)

Tebow was (only? - it's still pretty good) able to take that team to 9-3. Here we are in 2010, and Cam Newton is taking a lesser team overall (yep) and they are 8-0, currently #2 in the BCS.

I'm sure there are some statistical arguments that can be made in Tim Tebow's favor, but I'm also sure that there are some strong stats that would back Cam. I'm not looking for a statistical debate. What about just watching how the guys play?

Right now, if you were the team captain for a pick-up football game, who would you take first: Tim Tebow or Cam Newton? Remember, you want to win.

It'd have to be Cam Newton, right?

One of my friends described Cam as a more 'dynamic' player than Tim Tebow. I'll do my friend one better: not only is Newton more dynamic, he is the living, breathing representation of "a man playing among boys". Cam Newton, against SEC competition, gives the appearance of a bunch of 13 year olds playing with one of their 30 year-old uncles, and the uncle is showing no mercy on the children.

Consider this: if Cam Newton had stayed at Florida, what would there record be right now? Anyone want to disagree with undefeated? Didn't think so.

Let's take it a little bit further. If Cam Newton was the starting quarterback for Mississippi State - who are already 7-2 without Cam (amazing, right?) - would the Bulldogs be on top of the BCS standings? I can't say they wouldn't be.

It's a whole other level of talent and athleticism. Cam Newton is a level of player that Terrelle Pryor cannot even fathom. That's how much better he is than everyone else.

I've said before that Reggie Bush was the greatest college football player that I had seen in my lifetime (I'm 29). Some favored Tim Tebow in this debate. I was fine with a Tebow v. Bush debate.

But now with Cam Newton, I'm not sure there's one to be had.