December 9, 2012

Heisman History Made, Just Not the Right Kind

By - Keith Smith
Regardless of which of the three Heisman finalists won, last night's award was going to make history. Either the first freshman, the first defensive-only player, or the first Kansas State Wildcat was going to win it. As it turned out, Johnny Manziel took home the hardware.
In my mind, though, the wrong bit of history was made.
Don't get me wrong, Manziel had an amazing season, and I definitely believe he was the best offensive player in the country.
But if there was ever a year for a defender to win the award, this was it.
Manti Te'o had as good of a year as a middle linebacker could have, and when you add in his leadership skills and the fact that he was the heart and soul of the only undefeated team in the country, I thought he was the most deserving player.

Photo by: Matt Cashore
Manziel's Texas A&M squad lost two games early in the season. Many voters will tell you that two losses will take you out of consideration. Heck, it only took one to knock Collin Klein off as the front-runner and drop him to a distant third place finish overall in the final voting.
Yet last year's winner, Robert Griffin III, was on a team that lost three games.
I think that may be the most frustrating thing about this whole process. The voters don't seem to have any kind of consistency in what the criteria is to earn their vote. For years, many said they would never vote for a freshman.
Obviously, they changed their mind.
Some said they would never vote for a defender. But apparently, many abandoned that philosophy too, as Te'o received the highest point total ever for a defense-only player.
Still, if Te'o couldn't win it after being the first defender in the last five seasons with over 100 tackles and 7 picks, tying for most takeaways in the country with 9, being the captain and leader of the best defense in the country that only gave up 10 total touchdowns in 12 games, than the Heisman should be considered the best offensive player in college football award -- because a defender will never win it.

Also, I won't go so far as to say that I would never vote for a freshman or any other underclassmen, but I do see some problems that it creates.
Until 2007, when Tim Tebow won it as a sophomore, no one younger than a junior had ever won. That set off a string of three-consecutive sophomores winning, as Sam Bradford took home the award in 2008, and Mark Ingram followed in 2009.

But did you notice something? None of those guys ever won another one.
Coincidence? I think not.
We are talking about 20ish-year-olds, and it takes a very special person to not get just a little complacent after winning the award at that young of an age. I'm not talking about having humongous drop-offs in their game, just enough to make them no longer a Heisman winner.
That's the main reason I probably wouldn't have voted for Manziel this year.
Then again, I'm becoming a dinosaur, so what do I know? I still like to see 7-3 games where defense dominates.


  1. I take it your a Notre Dame fan? Stop hatin! The right guy won!

  2. I think Teo was underappreciated by the majority of people outside of South Bend, but the numbers don't lie. He had a big time season and was definitely the clue of that outstanding Notre Dame defense. Having said that, I still think the right guy won the Heisman. Manziel had a monster year, and as a freshman no less.

    1. All three were deserving. I'm not crazy about a freshman winning, as I think it affects their motivation the rest of their college career. There is no denying that Manziel had a brilliant season.

  3. Just more SEC biasness.

  4. I thought all three were deserving, but I think Klein means the most to his team because he has to do the most for them to win games.

  5. I'd put money on Te'o being the best pro out of the 3.

  6. "Also, I won't go so far as to say that I would never vote for a freshman or any other underclassmen, but I do see some problems that it creates."

    Listen, I know you need to make a point to get people riled up and whatnot, but this is something even Skip Bayless wouldn't be dumb enough to say.

    Tebow went from a stellar, National Championship-winning, Heisman Trophy-winning sophomore year (3286 yards, 32 passing TDs, 23 rushing TDs)to a not as exciting but still really good junior season followed by another National Championship his senior season. Sure, his numbers dipped, but he finished 3rd in the Heisman voting his junior year - it's not like he was doomed to fail because he won as a sophomore. BAD CHOICE, HEISMAN VOTERS!

    Bradford basically played one season at Oklahoma, where he won the Heisman. His junior season was cut tremendously short because of a shoulder injury - he only threw 69 passes the entire season. He skipped his senior year because he got the chance to make more money in a single snap of NFL football than any of us will make in a solid 12 months. But, you may be right that he was a bad choice for the Heisman as an underclassman because he only finished his sophomore season with 4720 yards, 50 passing TDs and 5 rushing TDs. Probably shouldn't mention that he then went on to break Peyton Manning's completion record as a rookie in the league, should I? Bradford's sophomore season also saw him take home the 2008 AP Player of the Year Award, Big12 Player of the Year Award, Davie O'Brien Award and the Sammy Baugh Award. Oh, and he was a consensus All American. BAD CHOICE, HEISMAN VOTERS!

    Ingram was in the same boat as Bradford, getting hurt his junior season and skipping town to cash in a dump truck full of money. If you want, I can list out all the SEC offensive records he broke in his Heisman-winning 2009 season. But since you've probably not read this far, it's probably not worth my time. I could also list out all of the ridiculously amazing SEC offensive players whose records were broken by Ingram, but I'll save you some reading. Once again, BAD CHOICE, HEISMAN VOTERS!

    1. Never assume there's something Skip WOULDN'T say. Lol

  7. First, I didn't say anywhere that any of those guys were bad choices, so before you put words in my mouth, read the article. Our better yet, have someone read it to you.

    I said that, giving a Heisman to a kid that young creates some problems. I think it makes them less likely to stick around and complete their education and their eligibility, two things I see as important in life. Obviously from your post, you are in favor of athletes bolting to the NFL early. I'm not. I think winning a Heisman takes away their motivation except in rare cases, such as Tebow.

    1. Ok, Keith. I followed your advice and just read the article again. Then I had someone else read it to me.

      Moving on.

      How did Ingram and Bradford lose motivation?! They were both injured after being awarded the coveted trophy and then decided to follow a career instead of another Heisman. The reason anyone gets an education is to learn how to skillfully hone a trade. If you have the contract of a first round pick in the NFL, you don't turn it down in hopes of finishing your accounting degree. You finish your education after you make all of your money. "Obviously" I'm in favor of someone doing what's best for themselves, which, in each of their cases, was the right decision - "bolting."

      In any case, Tebow clearly didn't get complacent. Bradford and Ingram got injured and if you're telling me they got complacent by trading their educations for first round picks in the NFL, then we'll just agree differently on why people get an education.