NEW YORK - 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.
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."
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."
Chris Huston, who polls a sampling of Heisman voters throughout the season and post the results at www.heismanpundit.com, predicts a landslide victory for Newton, though the scandal probably will keep him from breaking any records.
O.J. Simpson of Southern California has the record for largest margin of victory in the Heisman voting. He beat Purdue's Leroy Keyes by 1,750 points in 1968.
Huston predicted a result more like 1998, when Ricky Williams of Texas beat Kansas State quarterback Michael Bishop by 1,563 points, the fifth-largest margin in Heisman history.
Many voters have said that as long as Newton was eligible to play, they would treat him like any other candidate. However, a few voters have said they would not vote for Newton because of the scandal. It was only three months ago that Reggie Bush, the 2005 Heisman winner for USC, gave back his trophy after the NCAA ruled he had broken rules by accepting cash and gifts while he was in college.
Newton said that the way he's been portrayed in the media since news broke six weeks ago of his father's dealings with Mississippi State has bothered him at times.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
"I thank God for putting me in a lot of situations because a person can get stronger by adversity. And for me to go through that, I feel like I'm a stronger person. And God won't put no more on you than you can bear."
He said winning the award would "be a dream come true."
"Will I cry?" he said. "I don't know you'll have to see tomorrow."
CFT: The University of Nevada is honoring longtime coach Chris Ault, who stepped down in the fall, by renaming the school's football field after him.
CFT: The Detroit Lions are expected to own and operate their own bowl game at Ford Field, starting play in 2014, according to a report by ESPN.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
HBO Real Sports: Bill O'Brien
Penn State football coach and 2012 National Coach of the Year shares the challenges in turning around a program shattered by scandal. Real Sports premieres Tuesday, May 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
BCS title game
Pregame color, key plays and other moments from 'Bama's blowout win.
Check out the action from the postseason.
Check out which players were best of the best at each position.
Check out some of the college football cheerleaders from across the country.