Who’s your Heisman?

It’s that time of year again. The “Our Two Bits” staff and voters have to come to give you our 2012 Heisman Trophy Award® winner prognostication. Last year, we hit it right on the head by picking Robert Griffin III. This year, by all accounts has been weird…

The Heisman Trophy® is one of the most difficult awards to select because well… it’s the most subjective. It’s awarded to the “Most Outstanding Football player in America”. So what does outstanding mean? Historically, and to this day, the practice and philosophy is to award the trophy to a player on a winning team. When Tim Tebow was a candidate for the award in 2007, the knock on him was that Florida lost 3 games. By the nature of going undefeated, the feeling is that SOMEONE from that team should be a nominee… this is how AJ McCarron’s name kept creeping into the conversation this year.

The problem this year is that, winning teams, and the top teams in the country have all shifted to a more team based approach. Nick Saban could give Eddie Lacy 30 carries a game and he’d win the Heisman (could have done the same with Trent), but he’s not likely to win a championship that way (or keep Lacy healthy in the SEC). Florida went 11-1 this year with great individual talent on defense, but playing an excellent team scheme. Easley and Floyd played their roles and lost out on some sacks in order to keep containment of QBs who in turn threw the ball away. No sack, but no big play because you overpersued. Because of this team philosophy and style, a players true value is difficult to determine.

I say this tounge and cheek, but… with the 2012 Gators offense being inconsistent, and at times, anemic, was there a more valuable player than Kyle Christy? All the 3 and outs the Gators had from around their own 30 were then flipped by Christy’s punts. In the South Carolina game, it actually resulted in points from his booming kicks. Obviously, a punter isn’t going to win the Heisman, and in Christy’s case, he didn’t even win the Ray Guy award because the voters for that award can’t possibly watch college football. But to my point, being “the most valuable” or “on a winning team” is not a criteria for the award. Playing in meaningful games and the context of your “outstanding” play are not mentioned, but will always be considered. I’m not sure when this changed, but in today’s voting culture, Barry Sanders never would have won his Heisman. He won while Oklahoma State was on probabtion and was banned from TV (a practice the NCAA no longer engages in because it punishes the other teams you play) games. Braxton Miller was the QB for an undefeated, but ineligible Big Ten team this year and isn’t getting a sniff of New York.

So here we are. And with all due respect to this year’s slate of candidates, a middle linebacker is going to finish in the Top 2. It hasn’t been the greatest of seasons for this award. Again, team focus is a factor. If Georgia’s Gurley got all of Keith Marshall’s carries all season, we’d be looking at two freshman in New York this weekend. The aggravation of the candidate slate was summed up by one of the O2B staff in this e-mail in a response to the request for everyone’s Heisman votes:

“They all suck. Lets give It to someone who got robbed in a previous year:

1.       Peyton Manning – the original Andrew Luck snub for the someone being too good and people finding a way to vote against them

2.       Rex Grossman – back when Sophomores weren’t allowed to win

3.       Adrian Peterson – back when Freshman weren’t allowed to win (BM aka Before Manziel)

4.       OJ Simpson – back when Juniors weren’t allowed to win

5.       Larry Fitzgerald – when Receivers weren’t allowed to win (aka the present)”

So there you have it folks. Without further ado, the top 3 Our Two Bits candidates and the cases for and against them:

Colin Klein- QB Kansas State

The Case for Colin:

He’s the quarterback for the 1-loss K-State Wildcats. They have been in the Top 5 just about all season and were #1 for a week until they were pasted by the Baylor Bears late in the season. This is the 2nd year Klein has put up solid numbers, including 890 yards on the ground and over 20 rushing TDs. 20 TDs rushing for a QB was a big deal before Tebow became the 2nd guy to do it in 2007. Since then, it seems like one or two guys does it each year (Including Klein himself, who ran for 27 TDs in 2011). Did I mention he was the QB on a Top 5 team?

The Case against Colin:

15 TD passes against 7 INTs is not Heisman like. I mean… Driskel went for 11 and 3, so there’s that. Nobody watches Kansas State. The only time anyone really paid attention was when they got a text from a buddy or saw on Twitter, “Hey, are you seeing what Baylor is doing to K-state?!?!” Everyone then tuned in to see Klein have his one poor game during the season. There is much to be said for leadership, however, Klein is a clean cut kid. He’s married already. And he’s really, really quite a bore. Coaches love it. Not much “story”. Heisman voters eat up story. I’m afraid Colin’s invite to New York is just for a pat on the back. Enjoy the sights while you’re there buddy.

Johnny Manziel- QB Texas A&M

The Case for Johnny:

He’s the quarterback for the 2-loss Aggies. Not everyone’s losses are created equal though. Manziel lost to LSU and the Gators at home. Both, stout defenses, with a nose for the ball. Manziel looked like he was going to make it a long day for the Gators in the first half of their game in September; The first start of his career, Texas A&M’s first game of the season and first of the Kevin Sumlin era. The Gators adjusted and Manziel had a whole bunch of crazy scrambles for 1-2 yard gains or losses and a lot of throws out of bounds. It’s worth mentioning, the race for starting QB was so close that Manziel was only named the starter about 10 days prior to that Florida game. Johnny’s had a long way to come to get to New York (story!). Now to the good stuff… Manziel is a first year player and he’s a 66% passer, for just under 3500 yards, 24 TDs and only 8 INTs. That’s great. That’s great… that’s Aaron Murray numbers (65%/3466/31/8). Then things get weird. The SEC for all it’s great players like Gurley, Lacy, Yeldon, Marshall, Gillislee, etc… Guess who let the SEC in rushing in 2012? Six foot, one inch, two hundred pound Johnny Manziel led the SEC with 1181 yards and 19 TDs. Kevin Sumlin came into the league this year and ALL OF US thought the SEC defenses would hand him his ass for a couple years until he got it figured out. We weren’t counting on Johnny. Even in a “down” year for the back side of the SEC, Manziel quieted critics by beating #1 Alabama AT Tuscaloosa. Game over.

The case against Johnny:

He’s a redshirt freshman and much has been made of a “freshman” never winning the Heisman. I personally, was of the belief that if Herschel Walker didn’t win it as a freshman, then nobody will or should. Here’s the thing… he’s a redshirt sophomore. He just turned 20. Same age as Tebow when he won, and Mark Ingram when he walked away with the stiff arm trophy. This isn’t a big deal anymore. Freshmen football players aren’t the same as they were in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. With all of the guys who early enroll, even their physical frames are different (Hello, TJ Yeldon!). A&M lost 2 games this year. That’s a knock on them (vs. the other top candidates who have 1 loss between the two of them). A loss to the #3 and #7 team in the country. They are #8. Texas A&M in their first year in the SEC, with a new coach, and with first round draft pick QB Ryan Tannehill gone, are #8 in the country. I’m sorry, but nobody saw that coming.

Manti Te’o- LB Notre Dame

The case for Manti:

He’s the best player on the undefeated* #1 team in the country. He is the unquestioned leader of that team from a tactical and emotional standpoint. They all rallied around him when he lost his grandmother and his girlfriend this season (story!). It is without a doubt that he means a lot to that football team. He had 7 INTs from the middle linebacker spot, and while ne never took one to the house for 6 points, several of them were very timely. Im actually surprised they didn’t sneak him in at TE or fullback on the goal line and throw him one this year to give him that “moment”. He is a great kid and an amazing role model and it doesn’t hurt that he attends “The University of College Football in America”.

The Case against Manti:

This is the hardest one for me. I have a really difficult time giving the award to a middle linebacker. I could give it to an outside backer, who is a pass rusher (I even had Jadaveon Clowney on my ballot) because they can totally disrupt a game from top to bottom. But a middle backer..? On 90% of the plays he’s in… if he does his job well, he makes a tackle of a ball carrier for a gain of 2-3 yards. That’s a good play! Manti’s candidacy brings me back to the definition of the award. Is it leadership? If so, how does Tebow not take his 2nd trophy home in 2008. Also, I have issues with Notre Dame being undefeated*. What if the refs don’t screw up that call against Stanford and they call the touchdown that Stepfan Taylor scored correctly(I understand, OT is just extended in this case)? What if Pitt’s kicker makes the chip shot? Notre Dame isn’t undefeated if either of those things happens. Is Te’o still the most “outstanding” player? Does he even get an invite if they lost both of them? Te’o is a great player, it’s just difficult for a lot of people to get their head around a middle linebacker being the best player in the country.

That’s the Top 3 candidates in the Our Two Bits poll. Without further ado, here are the others who received votes and points:

Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB- Georgia    1 point

Jordan Lynch, QB- NIU                   1 point

Kenjon Barner, RB- Oregon         2 points

Jadaveon Clowney, DE- SCar       2 points

Braxton Miller, QB- Ohio State*                4 points

Marquise Lee, WR- USC                                7 points

Our third place finisher, with 20 points (Two 2nd place votes, and four 3rd place) is:

Manti Te’o

Our runner p, with 28 points (Two 1st place votes, and three 2nd place votes) is:

Colin Klein

And our winner; with 33 points (Five 1st place, two 2nd place votes):

Foreshadowing? We may never know…

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M Aggies.

Congratulations Johnny. And our apologies to everyone having to hear about this dude for 3 more more full eff-ing years!!

If you all thought Tebow got stale by 2009… wait’ll you get a load of Johnny <<insert nickname>>. Good luck and enjoy the ceremony tonight.

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