ATLANTA -- Just like nearly everybody else, Cam Newton doesn't get it. Which is to say, when it comes to a given college football season, he is the best player ... ever. So it only made sense that while he continued as a splendid mixture of power and speed at an absolutely ridiculous 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, he uttered the absurd down the stretch of Saturday night's SEC championship game at the Georgia Dome.
He turned to Bo Jackson on the Auburn sideline, then he said with a straight face to the legendary running back for the Tigers, "I want to be the greatest player in Auburn history."
In Auburn history?
No, Newton doesn't get it. And this has been the wrong question in recent weeks: Does he deserve the Heisman Trophy?
I mean, nobody was better than this guy ... not only for this college football season, but for any during the annals of time, including those featuring Herschel and Hornung, The Galloping Ghost, and even the ones in that stretch when Princeton and Harvard were the 19th century version of Notre Dame and Texas.
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Vince Young. Johnny Lujack. Desmond Howard. Hopalong Cassady. O.J. Simpson. Carson Palmer.
Oh, and Tim Tebow.
Yes, even if you include The Anointed One, Newton trumps them all for a given college football season, and this goes beyond the biased tongue of Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who said after his quarterback triggered Auburn's 56-17 rout of South Carolina: "I can say this with one game left (the national championship game), so he can't get too big of a head. He's probably the best football player I've ever seen."
Chizik doesn't get it, either.
For a given college football season, nobody ever was this dominant, this spectacular and this focused -- you know, despite the NCAA police, SEC officials and the FBI dissecting his world.
Every time you thought Newton couldn't become greater than Newton, along came something like Saturday night, when he used his arm, his legs and his everything else to help Auburn storm into that national championship game against Oregon.
That's because the extraordinary Newton and his mostly ordinary sidekicks destroyed South Carolina in the biggest mismatch you'll ever see in any conference championship game.
Officially, this was for the SEC. Unofficially, this was Newton showing again that he couldn't care less about the haters associated with Mississippi State (and likely the ones at Florida and at Alabama) trying to damage Auburn's season by any means necessary.
No question, Cam's father, Cecil, didn't follow many of the Scriptures he uses as an Atlanta pastor when his son was free to sign with any school after his prolific stint in junior college last year. In fact, the NCAA ruled last week that it was true Cecil concocted a pay-for-play scheme to shop Cam to Mississippi State for as much as $180,000.
It's just that the timing for these revelations was a little strange (as in those haters) since it came with Auburn in the midst of a national championship run and Cam sprinting toward a Heisman.
About those haters: You had one guy saying this about a conversation with the Newtons involving money. Then you had another saying that. Whatever was said, it wasn't said to Cam -- at least, not according to the NCAA, which has cleared the son of any wrongdoing involving the father (for the moment), which means Cam is eligible this month to receive the Heisman Trophy that he deserves.
"Well, I don't know. I leave that up to the voters," said Newton, who was slightly better than great again. This time, he threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more.
Only Tebow, Newton and Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick have thrown for 20 or more touchdowns and rushed for 20 or more in the same season. In addition, Cam is the only player in SEC history ever to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Only nine college players have done it, period. And not only did he lead the conference in rushing, but he was the only player in the country to rush for 170 yards or more five different times.
That's nothing compared to this:
One moment, you look at Newton, and he is Michael Vick with long glides instead of zigs and zags through defenders.
And this was so strange. I kept having flashbacks watching Newton in person against South Carolina and against Georgia. It was the way he dropped into the pocket, then felt the pressure from those charging, and then moved forward like a ballet dancer before throwing with grace to a receiver in the flat or downfield.
Let's just say I worked in the San Francisco bay area during the 1980s, when I did more than a few 49ers games.
As in Joe Montana.
This was like Dan Marino: On the third play of Saturday night's opening drive, Newton flicked his wrist with the greatest of ease, and the ball traveled forever to complete a 62-yard pass play. Seconds later, Auburn led 7-0 after Newton waited and waited some more without happy feet before delivering a 12-yard touchdown pass.
There also was that time with seven seconds left before halftime, when Newton flung a Hail Mary toward the end zone from Auburn's 49-yard line, and it was deflected into Adams' hands.
The stuff of Doug Flutie.
There were those splendid runs, too. Along the way to 73 yards rushing, none was dandier for Newton than the one near the start of the fourth quarter. With Auburn at South Carolina's 22, he leaped over one defender like Billy Sims, then bruised two of them like Herschel Walker, and then became a gentleman like Cam Newton.
After that 10-yard run, Newton grabbed an official's cap off the ground and handed it to the guy with a smile.
He was having a fun. He always does. So this was just more of the same when he skipped onto the field before the game and tried to shake the hand of every Auburn fan in the building afterward.
"I've just been living the dream this whole year, and I thank God for putting people in my life (who have) my best interest," said Newton, his smile growing while recalling how he was carried onto the field on the shoulders of teammates after the final horn. "I can't stress it enough how blessed I truly am. And I just thank the people that's in my corner."
It's everybody who enjoys watching the greatest of the greatest, even when the greatest is oblivious to it all.