On Saturday night in Time Square Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel was crowned the 77th winner of the Heisman trophy, becoming the first freshman and only the second Aggie ever to receive college football's most coveted honor. While “Johnny Football” was an electrifying talent who almost singlehandedly catapulted A&M back to national prominence and led them to a marquee matchup with rival Texas in the Cotton Bowl, he still wasn't the nation's best player in 2012.
You'd be hard pressed to find any college football fan that doesn't like NFL football. Unlike college hoops — where those who like the NBA tend not to follow the college game and vice versa — college football tends to have a somewhat bipartisan appeal that stretches across both party lines; namely, the idea that college football is, for all intents and purposes, the NFL's minor league affiliate. Putting aside the 55-50 scores or teams running the triple option, most fans of the NFL can sit back and watch Eddie Lacy bust through the line and have an opinion on whether or not he will succeed as a pro.
That brings us back to Johnny Manziel, who might have been one of the most transfixing athlete in college football, but due to his collegiate status as a freshman and the offensive system under which he played, is maybe just another really good college quarterback. At this point, it leaves us guessing as to whether or not he'll be a decent pro, if and when that day ever comes.
Therefore, for us who view college football as the NFL's minor league system, the clear winner of this year's Heisman Trophy should have been Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. Whether you think the Irish are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation type season and will inevitably conform back to second-tier status next year, or you believe that the Golden Domers are on the verge of returning as one of the nation's elite programs, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't think Te'o will be a success in the NFL.
Since 1990, the Heisman has been awarded to 15 quarterbacks, 6 running backs, one wide receiver, and only one primarily defensive player (Charles Woodson) who also happened to return kicks and lined up at receiver as well. Of the 15 quarterbacks taken, only one has been voted to multiple Pro-Bowls (Carson Palmer), and none have received All-Pro honors.
While Cam Newton was must-watch TV last season in the NFL, setting a record for most passing yards by a rookie, he's plummeted back to earth this season and struggles at being everything an elite NFL quarterback is supposed to be. And while it would appear that Robert Griffin III is the total package, the list of Heisman quarterbacks whose career either never got off the ground or flamed out completely is staggering: Gino Torretta, Danny Wuerffel, Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, Jason White, Matt Leinart, Troy Smith, and depending on how you feel about Tim Tebow — Tim Tebow. Which begs the question, if the Heisman Trophy is supposed to be awarded to the best player in college football, why do so many face plant in the NFL, a league compiled by what is essentially said players' peers? What is about quarterbacks that the Heisman voters love so much?
While every college signal callers has inflated numbers. It would appear that the award goes to the most popular quarterback with the biggest win on his resume in the later part of the season. RGIII wasn't even on many voters' ballots until the mid-point of the season, and it wasn't until his Herculean performance against sixth-ranked Oklahoma in Waco that put him in a head-to-head battle with the odds-on favorite from Week 1 of the 2011 season, Andrew Luck.
Without the Alabama win, would we really be talking about Manziel as the Heisman winner?
The same argument could be made of Manziel; his numbers were inflated by matchups with likes of SMU, S.C. State, Louisiana Tech, and Sam Houston, yet it would appear in the eyes of the voters that the Aggies' upset win over unequivocally the best team in the country in Week 11 swung the voters his way. Without the Alabama win, would we really be talking about Manziel as the Heisman winner?
Total Stats from 2012 season:
Stats vs. weaker opponents (SMU, S.C. State, Louisiana Tech, Sam Houston):
True, a perfectly valid argument can be made that Manti Te'o didn't keep opposing offensive coordinators lying awake at night wondering about the ramifications about running and throwing in his general vicinity, and his team didn't exactly have a buzzsaw of a schedule either. But he did rack up 103 tackles and a national-best 7 interceptions from the linebacker position. And most importantly, Notre Dame is the top-ranked team in the country and is playing for the BCS Title against Alabama, in no small part due to the play of their defensive captain.
I'm not hating on Manziel's epic year. Yet this would have been the quintessential opportunity to give the award to a senior defensive player who led the nation's best statistical defense. The Heisman voting system is in the same need of a shakeup as the Electoral College, and this year with no true alpha offensive star, that beginnings of an overhaul could have started with Te'o striking the pose.
This column has been updated.
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Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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