Saturday Night Bias: Heisman Trophy, You're Dead to Me

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Stupid award is stupid.

Jameis Winston deserved the 2013 Heisman Trophy, without a doubt. He's been brilliant, leading his team to an undefeated regular season as a first-year starter as one of the most accurate and efficient players in college football. His biggest adversary was an off-field incident, of which he was not charged and we will probably never know entirely about. There's no question, the award was his.

My grievance, and why the award is dead to me, is with the rest of the field; more specifically, I take offense to a severe lack of Marcus Mariota.

Let's take a look at the full Heisman standings:

  1. Jameis Winston - no complaints here.
  2. AJ McCarron - ...what?
  3. Jordan Lynch - Crazy rushing numbers in a non-AQ conference, 26-57 passing in his last two games, lost to Bowling Green by 20.
  4. Andre Williams - rushed for over 2000 yards, that warrants a trip to NY.
  5. Johnny Manziel - Lots of stats, 13 picks, crumbled down the stretch as badly as Lynch did.
  6. Tre Mason - Earned the trip to NY vs. Missouri. Only 73 yards rushing vs. Washington State.
  7. Bryce Petty - Passing game monster, should have been higher.
  8. Derek Carr - The passing game version of Lynch. He's already got a championship belt, he doesn't need Heisman votes.
  9. Braxton Miller - Runs the Wildcat better than anyone in the country. 14-36 in his last two games.
  10. Ka'Deem Carey - Rushed for 100+ in every game this season. Fine.
It's not a terrible list, it's really not. I just find it impossible to believe that Marcus Mariota could go from Heisman front-runner to out of the top 10 with this stat line for his last 4 games:

83-135 (61.4%), 1129 yards, 10 TD 4 INT, 25 carries for 71 yards, 2-2 record

Are those numbers brilliant? No. Are they going to win a Heisman trophy? No. Am I surprised Oregon went 2-2 in those games? No. But those aren't numbers that make a player disappear, especially when compared to how other Heisman finalists finished the season.

Johnny Manziel's last 4 games: 86-139 (61.8%), 1138 yards, 11 TD 5 INT, 44 carries for 190 yards, 2 TDs, 2-2 record

Jordan Lynch's last 4 games: 69-111 (62.1%), 805 yards, 4 TD 2 INT, 101 carries for 731 yards, 10 TDs, 3-1 record

Braxton Miller's last 4 games: 35-82 (42.7%), 544 yards, 7 TD 2 INT, 66 carries for 623 yards, 8 TDs, 3-1 record

Apparently, the lack of rushing numbers were so important that Braxton Miller can put up that mess of a passing line and somehow blow by Mariota. And Manziel's numbers, record included, are nearly identical to Mariota. Yet the 8-4 quarterback with worse decision making goes to New York, and Mariota stays home.

Right now, the Heisman Trophy doesn't know what it is. Is it an award for the best player on the best team (Winston, McCarron, Mason)? Is it for the guy with the most impressive stats (Williams, Lynch, Carr, Carey, Petty)? Or is it for for an exciting dual threat quarterback (Manziel, Lynch again, Miller)? I don't think it's clear at this point, and the award won't make any sense until it does. Let's look back and see if we can find a pattern.
  • 2013 - Winston: Best Player on Best Team (BPBT)
  • 2012 - Manziel: Exciting Dual Threat QB (EDTQB)
  • 2011 - Robert Griffin III: EDTQB
  • 2010 - Cam Newton: BPBT/EDTQB
  • 2009 - Mark Ingram: BPBT
  • 2008 - Sam Bradford: BPBT/STATS
  • 2007 - Tim Tebow: BPBT/EDTQB
  • 2006 - Troy Smith: BPBT
  • 2005 - Reggie Bush: BPBT/STATS
  • 2004 - Matt Leinart: BPBT
So we took a two year break from voting the best player on the best team (would have been Trent Richardson in 2011, and God knows who last year) because we became infatuated with RGIII and JFF. And now we're back. And if that's what the Heisman trophy is, then that's fine. I won't bother worrying about it, because that's a stupid premise for an award, but if that is the premise, then Marcus Mariota should have been a finalist over the likes of Williams, Lynch, Carr, and Carey. If it's about stats, then you can make more of a case for Mariota than you can for McCarron, Miller, or Manziel. And if it's about simply whoever is left when the dust settles at the end of the year, then the award is dumber than I thought.

Ultimately, this is just me being upset that Marcus Mariota had one of the greatest individual seasons in Oregon history, and one of the best seasons of any player in college football this season, and he isn't getting the credit he deserves.
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