Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - And the 2010-11 Southeastern Conference
Male Athlete of the Year is...John-Patrick Smith!
We can certainly all agree that the league's athletic directors made the
right choice. After all, there was no other candidate with credentials to
match those of Smith. Take a look at some of the nominees: Barnabas Kirui,
Michael Roth...CAM NEWTON.
This is not a column to bash John-Patrick Smith and his accomplishments. In
fact, let's give him his props.
Smith became just the second player in the history of collegiate tennis to be
named a four-time singles and doubles ITA All-American. The University of
Tennessee standout earned SEC Player of the Year honors in 2010 and 2011, and
he was certainly deserving of those lofty accolades.
But SEC Male Athlete of the Year over Cam Newton? No way.
Remember when Newton caught that touchdown pass against Arkansas, his
signature Heisman moment, proving that he really can do everything on the
Newton joined Tim Tebow as one of only three QBs in FBS history to throw and
run for 20-plus TDs in a single season. Tebow took home SEC Male Athlete of
the Year honors twice, so Smith over Newton can certainly be looked at as a
miscarriage of justice of sorts.
I will hold off on calling the SEC hypocritical for at least a couple of
graphs, but while I scan the trusty thesaurus for a less abused synonym, let's
get back to the Smith/Newton debate.
Consider the following: Smith was better as a junior than a senior. Still, it
was Alabama football player Mark Ingram who nabbed 2010 SEC Male Athlete of
the Year honors. While Ingram was great in leading the Crimson Tide to the
national title, he wasn't historically great like Newton was for Auburn this
So a less impressive resume and stiffer competition was the key to victory for
Smith in 2011? That certainly seems to be the case and makes absolutely no
sense. And please don't say he deserved it for his body of work. This isn't a
lifetime achievement award.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said all the right things when the 2011 Roy F.
Kramer SEC Male and Female Athletes of the Year were announced.
"The SEC is very proud to honor John-Patrick and Kayla (Alabama gymnast Kayla
Hoffman), as they are outstanding examples of what a student-athlete can
accomplish, both on and off the field of competition. Their hard work and
dedication to excellence have made them fine representatives of their
universities and this conference."
The reality is that Cam Newton should have been a unanimous choice for 2011
SEC Male Athlete of the Year.
Did Cam and/or his father seek and/or receive money for his athletic services
last year? Perhaps.
Still, the SEC didn't have the guts to uphold a suspension of Newton when the
allegations arose during the college football season, and the reason had far
less to do with a lack of evidence and plenty to do with the fear of lost
revenue. The hulking quarterback was the key to Auburns title hopes, and the
only thing folks in SEC country value more than oxygen is SEC championships.
So the SEC will take every opportunity to gloat about the latest major trophy
on the mantle courtesy of Auburn. And you can bet that the Tigers will be the
darlings of the 2011 SEC Football Media Days later this month. Yet, the man
most responsible for keeping the SEC atop the college football world for yet
another year isn't worthy of the conferences top individual award?
If there are ethical requirements that go along with the award in question,
change its name to Sportsman of the Year. Otherwise, give it to the best
ATHLETE during the year in consideration. It seems the thesaurus has failed
me, so I'll stick to my initial inclination and call the SEC hypocritical. It
may be unoriginal, but that doesn't make it untrue.
The Sports Network