The first thing I learned when I started to dive into my Heisman vote is that the true parameters are somewhat vague. That by no means is meant to be a knock on the process or the system but it is simply a statement of fact. The Heisman is to be awarded to the “Most Outstanding Player” in college football…. So what exactly does that mean? Is it the Most Valuable Player? Is it the most Athletic Player? Is it the Biggest Game Changer? Is it the leader of an undefeated team, does a teams record even matter when it comes to deciding who is the most outstanding player? Essentially, I have overanalyzed this entire description in trying to come up with the best way to decide and vote on who I felt was the “Most Outstanding Player” in college football. The beautiful part of this voting process is that the process itself is left to each individual voter’s decision as to what defines the Most Outstanding Player in college football.
13 of the last 19 winners played on a team that was involved in the National Championship chase (either playing for or earning a National Championship). Trying to determine who is worthy of this honor obviously then has a lot to do with the success of the team surrounding the Most Outstanding Player, but of course not completely. Last years winner played in the Alamo Bowl and as amazing as 2011 was for the Baylor Bears, the Robert Griffin led Bears were never in the mix for the National Championship. Tim Tebow won the award in 2007 after his Gator team lost 3 regular season games and eventually lost the Capital One Bowl to
The one thing that did become glaringly obvious while deciding who would get my vote is that pre-season Heisman polls are about as relevant and fair as pre-season college football rankings. If the pre-season college football polls were taken as gospel,
So let’s get to the nuts and bolts of my decision. I put together a list of 13 guys that really stood out in my mind as worthy Heisman candidates. Landry Jones, Tajh Boyd, Jonny Manziel, Manti Te’o, Jadeveon Clowney, Collin Klein, Braxton Miller, Marqise Lee, Geno Smith, Aaron Murray, Montee Ball, Jordan Lynch and Tavon Austin.
If the Heisman Trophy truly went to the most outstanding athlete in college football, the final three might be the
That got me down to six:
Jonny Manziel, Manti Te’o, Collin Klein, Braxton Miller, Aaron Murray, and Jordan Lynch.
Enter the mind games…. Could I really have my first Heisman ballot include a guy that played in the MAC? I mean his numbers are absolutely phenomenal. He led his team in rushing with almost 2,000 yards on the ground; he threw for nearly 3,000 yards and was responsible for 43 touchdowns. 43!! But in the only loss of the season against the 1 of 2 AQ conference members that Lynch faced and he was just 6-16 passing and had a crucial 3rd quarter fumble. He was #3 nationally in Total Offense and truly a guy I wanted to put on my ballot. But I had to eliminate him.
The Heisman ballot allows you to vote for 3 players. I am down to five. So I struggle as to what do I weigh more, undefeated regular season? Individual stats? Leadership? NFL projection? Despite leading his team to 6 straight wins to clinch a spot in the SEC Title Game I eliminated Aaron Murray. Of all the quarterbacks I considered he might be one of the best NFL prospects. But his performance against
The elimination of
I eliminated Colin Klein. The performance against Baylor was too much for me to overlook. I tried… I rationalized it… but you can not have a 3 interception performance in a crucial must win scenario. I witnessed Colin Klein at his finest. Against
So I am down to my final two and believe it or not I think this is an easy decision. If Adrian Peterson did not win the Heisman as a freshman how can I possibly choose a guy who had lost two games already this season? But the numbers… OH the numbers. Johnny Manziel was responsible for 4, 600 yards of Total Offense. All games considered he was the SEC leader in Rushing, Total Offense, and was the leading scorer in the league. Plus he engineered the Texas A&M offense which was the leader in Total offense, passing, and rushing as a team in the SEC. Not as easy as I first thought. Hey his total yardage mark broke the record set by Cam Newton two years ago. Plus he had his Heisman moment with the incredible performance against
In the end, Manziel walked away with the hardware and he deserved the award. But my vote was for Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. Sure a defensive player that was a pure defensive player had never won the award. And yes Te’o is helped quite a bit by the defense that surrounds him… but what player is not made better by the cast that supports him? And true this is an award that is historically awarded to offensive players, but Notre Dame is playing for the National Championship on the heels of its defense. And the leader of that defense was and is Manti Te’o. As a middle linebacker Te’o picked off 7 passes. At key moments in the game he was the difference maker. Some of the performances that stood out to me:
* 8 tackles and two interceptions in a victory over
* He had 11 tackles in a victory over No. 8 Stanford.
* He had 11 tackles and an interception in a victory over No. 12 Oklahoma. Pretty much dominated the game.
* He had five tackles and an interception against USC.
I tried my best to not allow the Te’o story to get in the way of evaluating his season. The personal adversity is pretty incredible that Te’o has faced. But when Notre Dame needed a play to stay perfect in 2012 it seemed as if Te’o was always in the middle of every big play. Manti Te’o may not have won the Heisman Trophy… but he got my vote.
1) Manti Te’o
2) Johnny Manziel
3) Braxton Miller