The father of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton said Thursday he will not attend the Heisman Trophy award ceremony because his presence might "rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment."
Cecil Newton, who was invited to attend Saturday by the Heisman Trust, released the statement Thursday through George Lawson, the Atlanta-based Newton family attorney.
"For all of my fifty years of life, coupled with 25 years of marriage, I have made an exhausting attempt to be a good husband, father and generally a good person of integrity," said Cecil Newton, who was involved in a failed pay-for-play scheme during his son's recruitment to Mississippi State. "The past 60 days have caused all that my family worked to accomplish to come into question.
"So that my son Cam Newton can receive all the honors and congratulations that he has worked so hard to accomplish without distraction, I have decided not to be in attendance at the ceremony as it will perhaps rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment."
Cam Newton is the favorite to receive the Heisman Trophy Saturday in New York. The other finalists are Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and Oregon running back LaMichael James.
The junior-college transfer has led the Tigers to a Southeastern Conference title and into the BCS national championship game against Oregon on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.
The NCAA reinstated Newton after a one-day suspension by Auburn last week, ruling that neither the player nor Auburn knew of his father's attempts to get money.
Newton told ESPN Thursday that he hadn't directly asked his father what transpired between him and Mississippi State, but "at the end of the day I can look him in the eye and know he has my best interests at heart."
Newton said it wasn't for him to say if his father had done anything wrong, but he knows his father is there for him.
"My love for him is unconditional," Cam Newton said. "This type of situation can split a family but it makes us stronger."
Cam Newton was in Florida on Thursday for ESPN's College Football Awards Show, where he picked up the Maxwell Award given to the national player of the year and the Davey O'Brien Award for the top quarterback. Earlier in the day, he won the Walter Camp player of the year award.
■ Oklahoma State sophomore Justin Blackmon won the Biletnikoff Award presented annually to college football's best receiver.
■ D.J. Williams of Arkansas won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end.
■ Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley won the Lombardi Award as the nation's top lineman.
■ Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi won the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman.
■ LSU junior cornerback Patrick Peterson won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation's best defensive player. He also took home the Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back.
■ Oklahoma State's Dan Bailey won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker.
■ Florida's Chas Henry won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's best punter.
■ Oregon's LaMichael James won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back.
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton could be headed to one of the biggest wins in the Heisman Trophy's 75-year history. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Newton has accounted for 49 touchdowns (20 rushing, 28 passing, one receiving) in 13 games. He ranks No. 1 in the country in pass efficiency, No. 10 in total offense and No. 15 in rushing for No. 1 Auburn, which will play for the national title on Jan. 10.
StiffArmTrophy.com, which tracks the Heisman voters' ballots, has Newton with 127 first-place votes. The site had tracked down 146 ballots of the roughly 900 as of Thursday, about 16 percent. Voters cast a ballot with first, second and third place.
The Web site is projecting a 1,596-point victory for Newton, which would be the fourth-largest margin of victory. USC running back O.J. Simpson won the 1968 award by a record 1,750 points over Leroy Keyes. Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith won the 2006 trophy by 1,662 points over Arkansas running back Darren McFadden. And Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward beat out Tennessee QB Heath Shuler by 1,622 in 1993.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said Thursday Dave Wannstedt will be the acting coach when the Panthers face Kentucky in the BBVA Compass Bowl next month.
Wannstedt, who announced his resignation as coach Tuesday, did not appear at a news conference to promote the upcoming bowl game on Jan. 8 at Legion Field. Bennett stood in Wannstedt's place to represent him.
"Dave will coach the game," Bennett said. "He's just back handling some details right now. But the plan is he will coach the game and then go into his role in administration."
Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips said he believes the Pitt players can use Wannstedt's impending departure as motivation.
"It's just another incentive for those guys to play hard," Phillips said. "But this is a football game, and those kids are football players. They'll be fired up and ready regardless of the situation."