- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
- LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Newton was the obvious pick in my mind. Quite honestly the best college football player I've seen (that carries less weight considering I've only been covering it since 1998, but still). Spare me the moral outcry about the NCAA's investigation into his recruitment. He was ruled eligible and hasn't missed any games (nor was he ruled retroactively ineligible for any games, so they still count). That's good enough for me.
James is outstanding and consistently put up big numbers for the Ducks, regardless of competition. He leads the nation in rushing, so I put him second. Luck got the nod at No. 3, although I just as easily could have put Michigan's Denard Robinson in that spot. It's not his fault the Wolverines had no defense.
The Heisman finalists will be announced this evening, once the votes are tabulated. The winner will be named Saturday in New York (I'll be there, by the way).
But Auburn is up for some other pretty big awards today. Here they are:
- Head coach Gene Chizik is in the running for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, which will be revealed at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Chiiz's competition is Wisconsin's Bret Bielema, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, Stanford's Jim Harbaugh, Oregon's Chip Kelly, TCU's Gary Patterson and Boise State's Chris Peterson.
- Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is up for the Frank Broyles Award, which goes to college football's top assistant. It will be announced at a banquet at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, Ark. Malzahn is up agaainst TCU defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen and Stanford offensive coordinator Greg Roman. The only other Auburn coach to win the award? Chizik, as defensive coordinator in 2004.
- And lastly, defensive tackle Nick Fairley is up for the Bronko Nagurski Award, given to the FWAA Defensive Player of the Year. It will be presented at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C. Other finalists include Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, Georgie linebacker Justin Houston, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. Fairley has 21 tackles for a loss and 10.5 tackles for a loss this year.