Judging by various straw polls, predictions and those earnest nosy-pokers at Stiff Arm Trophy, Johnny Manziel will win the Heisman Trophy in a landslide. Cool. No complaints. Good choice.
The kid is a blast to watch, and there’s nothing wrong with making history – first freshman winner and all that. I voted him third, behind Manti Te’o and Collin Klein, the other two finalists.
My Heisman ballot isn’t a reflection of me trying to atone for my lapsed Catholicism, or an endorsement of chastity, or reflexively cranky old guy-ness that can’t vote for a freshman. I went with my gut, as much as numbers. I have no quarrel with any of the three.
No qualms with anyone who has Marqise Lee or Jadeveon Clowney or Braxton Miller on their ballots, either. The Heisman Trophy Trust states that the award is for “the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuits of excellence with integrity.” Any of the above might be the best player somebody saw all season.
Nowhere does it state that the Heisman winner must be a quarterback or a running back. It simply works out that way most years.
All three are, in truth or essence, quarterbacks of their respective teams. It’s a safe argument that none of their teams would be where they are without them.
Te’o’s Heisman candidacy benefits from the Notre Dame publicity machine, an unbeaten season and No. 1 ranking, and the Fighting Irish’s lack of signature offensive players.
Manziel benefits from outrageous offensive numbers, his ability to conjure plays from nothing, or worse, and a late-season win at Tuscaloosa against the Empire. Plus, the fact that he led Texas A&M to 10 wins in – pause for dramatic music – the S-E-C.
I think Klein took too large a hit, in the Heisman derby, for the furball he and K-State coughed up against Baylor. It cost the Wildcats a shot at the national title. Still, they went 12-1 and won the Big 12 with a team picked to finish sixth.
Yeah, I know Texas A&M was picked to finish fifth in the SEC West. If you had ranked the entire conference, the Aggies probably would have been picked 10th or 11th out of 14.
Comparing Manziel’s and Klein’s numbers is a waste of time. Both are asked to do different things in their respective systems. Both directly accounted for the bulk of touchdowns in their offenses – Manziel 43 of 68, Klein 37 of 56. That doesn’t take into account how many TDs for which they were indirectly responsible, making plays beyond the norm and extending drives that led to scores.
There’s no telling if either one would have been as successful in the other’s system. Klein doesn’t appear to be the athlete that Manziel is, so he might not flourish in Kevin Sumlin’s offense. It would have been fun to watch Bill Snyder’s head explode when Manziel started his sandlot improv routines.
Attempting to quantifiably compare Te’o to Manziel or Klein is aburd to the third power. Judgments have to be based on qualities such as leadership and stature and respect within each program. All get exemplary marks there, too.
While it’s true that Teo’s tackle numbers are down from the previous two seasons, he is the unquestioned leader of a team that absolutely no one believed would be in this position. Something to be said for that.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun