- Associated Press - Friday, December 10, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - Cam Newton and the other finalists for the Heisman Trophy strolled into the room together, posed for a couple of photos with the big bronze statue, then spread out to separate tables to speak with reporters.

Andrew Luck, LaMichael James and Kellen Moore looked a little lonely.

The Auburn quarterback certainly draws a crowd these days.

Newton sat back in a leather desk chair, frequently flashed a big grin and casually answered questions from about a dozen reporters for 14 minutes Friday, the day before he’s expected to win the Heisman.

Newton said he was not disappointed in his father, even though the NCAA believes Cecil Newton tried to get Mississippi State to pay him in exchange for his son playing there. The star QB was disappointed that his dad decided not to attend the Heisman ceremony on Saturday night.

“It hurts, but that’s a decision that he made,” Cam Newton said.

Newton has stayed an overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman, even though he played much of the season’s final month with a scandal developing around him.

The week before the Southeastern Conference championship the NCAA announced that Cecil Newton tried to pull off a play-for-pay scheme with Mississippi State, but there was no evidence that his son or Auburn knew about it. The NCAA decided Cam Newton would be allowed to play, but his father’s access to Auburn athletics would be limited. The sports governing body has left open the possibility that Cam Newton’s status could change if new evidence came to light.

Cecil Newton, in a statement released Thursday by his attorney, said he would not attend the ceremony.

“He’s doing it (for) the betterment of me. Whatever his decision is, I’m all for it. And I’ll stick to that,” Cam said.

Cam Newton said his mother, Jackie, and two brothers will be at the ceremony and he plans to speak with his father by phone soon after it is over.

“I said on numerous occasions how I feel about my father,” Newton said. “I love him with all my heart.”

On the field, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound junior has been the most dominant player in college football of 2010. He leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing, leads the nation in passer rating and has accounted for 49 touchdowns while guiding the top-ranked Tigers (13-0) to a spot in the BCS national title game. Auburn will play No. 2 Oregon and James in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 10.

James has said he’d vote for Newton to win the award and Moore, the Boise State quarterback, said the same on Friday.

“I don’t expect to win, no,” he said. “Certainly Cam is deserving of this.”

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