Columnists, Sports

TUESDAY’S TAKE: Who cares about the Heisman?

Who’s going to win the Heisman trophy?

That seems like all anybody is talking about after this weekend of college football. A couple of big games, an Alabama loss and all of a sudden, we’re talking about who will win college football’s most coveted prize.

There are some interesting candidates out there, so I’ll go through the motions and entertain those of you who care.

Let me tell you, it’s a little bit soon to be calling Johnny Manziel anything other than Johnny Manziel. Not Johnny Football, and certainly not Johnny Heisman.

First, and foremost, he’s a freshman. No freshman has ever won it. And he won’t. Period.

But there’s no question his play this weekend was superb as he led Texas A&M to victory over ‘Bama on Saturday. But to say that qualifies him as a Heisman winner outright is flat-out ridiculous. A guy named Adrian Peterson was a freshman back in 2004 and broke almost every first-year rushing record there is. He still finished second behind quarterback Matt Leinart. Johnny won’t win it this year.

Does Alabama’s loss this past weekend eliminate A.J. McCarron from the discussion? I think so. Two interceptions basically cost his team an undefeated season. I think his numbers aren’t the flashiest either. He’s had five games where he hasn’t thrown for more than 200 yards. To win the Heisman, you have to be consistently throwing for at least 200 yards.

Quarterback Collin Klein creates all of the offense for Kansas State. He’s racked up 31 total touchdowns this season, but has only thrown 12 of them. The senior quarterback hasn’t proven his arm is the real deal and that could affect his chances. If he increases his passing yards, it could give him a leg up.

Linebacker Manti Te’o is the force behind the Irish defense this season. He has 92 tackles, six interceptions, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery thus far.

But is a defensive player likely to win it? I’m about to graduate college and the last time it happened, I was graduating kindergarten. Charles Woodson won it in 1997. Defensive players are always overlooked when the voting takes place, and even if Te’o and the Irish defense can help lead Notre Dame to a national championship, he’ll still probably be judged crookedly.

Braxton Miller isn’t getting too much play because Ohio State won’t be playing any Bowl Games this year after an NCAA ban.

The kid is legit. He’s the fourth-leading rusher in the Big Ten, making him a big double-threat as far as quarterbacks go. But since Ohio State is banned, Miller, in effect, is banned from winning the Heisman.

Everybody seems obsessed with it, but I truly don’t think it matters who wins the Heisman.

Seeing someone do the pose drunk is as impressive as winning the trophy itself.

The last really good player to win the Heisman was Reggie Bush in 2005, and it didn’t even count. He had to give back the trophy over allegations that he was given special treatment and prizes for playing at USC.

As football shifts to a quarterback-driven sport, the Heisman has been awarded to more quarterbacks (10 of the last 11 have been QB). The quarterbacks who’ve won aren’t all they were cracked up to be now in the NFL.

Things looked great in Cam Newton’s first year in the NFL, but he hasn’t done anything remarkable this year. He’s thrown eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season.

Not the big, hyped-up Heisman winner we all remember last year who shattered rookie records.

Mark Ingram, the only running back to win it since 2000, won in 2009 and isn’t what he used to be. After leading the Crimson Tide in 2008–09, he ran for almost 500 yards and five touchdowns in his first year with the Saints. This season, he has fallen in the depth chart and only has one touchdown.

Sam Bradford? Brutal. The Rams haven’t been good since Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk were on the team. Bradford isn’t their savior and continues the trend of disappointing Heisman performances in the NFL.

Tim Tebow was allegedly Jesus incarnate when he played for Florida. He won the Heisman as a sophomore in 2007 and now he’s riding the bench behind the equally awful Mark Sanchez.

So who cares who wins the Heisman? It’s just an excuse for an ESPN College Football special.

Of the 76 men selected the Heisman Trophy winner, just five have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It’s overrated, so don’t buy the hype.


Mike Neff is a weekly columnist for the sports section. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or via Twitter at @mneff2.

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