The current Heisman Trophy finalists are: Andrew Luck, Kellen Moore, and Trent Richardson. Russell Wilson (Wisconsin) and Landry Jones (Oklahoma) both lost on Saturday and eliminated themselves completely. There’s little doubt that Luck is the favorite to win it. That leaves one other contender, Richardson. (There’s an argument for Moore because he’ll get the record for most wins by an FBS quarterback, but the respect factor for Boise State is so low because his team ranks 45th in strength of schedule and they play in the Mountain West Conference.) Although Luck is the second coming of Elway and has an NFL tagline of “Suck for Luck,” on a college scale he plays in a weaker conference and doesn’t have the stats that you need to be a Heisman winner. Honestly, he’s just a part of a trend where quarterbacks win any individual offensive MVP award. Here’s the list of Heisman winners since 2000.
2000- Chris Weinke (he was 30 when he won; a 30 year old playing with 18 and 19 year olds. No surprise he won.)
2001- Eric Crouch (my favorite player as a kid. He was exciting.)
2002- Carson Palmer
2003- Jason White (business owner in Oklahoma, what a waste.)
2004- Matt Leinart (coolest college athlete of all time, he hung out with Nick Lachey!)
2005- Reggie Bush (doesn’t matter that he vacated the trophy, we all know)
2006- Troy Smith (smaller faster version of Tebow, just too small)
2007- Tim Tebow (this man is inhuman. Never never never flustered.)
2008- Sam Bradford (accuracy)
2009- Mark Ingram (no doubt about it, clear cut from the beginning he should’ve won)
2010- Cam Newton (absolute stud in college, soon to be an absolute stud in the NFL)
Of the 10 winners, eight were quarterbacks. There are arguments for every player that did win. Tebow is the best college player of all time, Bradford threw 50 touchdowns, and Cam Newton made Auburn a superpower. But did Carson Palmer deserve it more than Larry Johnson who rushed for 2,000 yards? Or did Jason White deserve it more than Larry Fitzgerald who had 87 catches for 1,600 yards and 22 touchdowns? Yes, most of those quarterbacks threw 40 or more touchdowns with less than 10 interceptions and many running backs that are finalists have 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. So there is your standard for what players need to win the award because spread offenses give quarterbacks four and five wide receiver sets and have them in shotgun most of the game and throwing 45-50 times. Compare it to a running back that may only get 15-20 touches a game, but with easy games against inferior opponents, their stats need to reach a certain point too. It’s hard for a running back to win, but when the evidence is there, it should be noticed and rewarded.
Here’s a comparison on the two favorites.
That’s 6.6 yards a carry on only 18 carries a game. To compare, a solid NFL running back averages about 22-25 carries a game. He’s second in rushing yards (50 behind Virginia Tech’s David Wilson) while playing on an Alabama offense who has a game-manager for a quarterback and no explosive offensive threats like a Julio Jones. He also plays in the SEC, the toughest conference in the country and runs for touchdowns like this. The conference has eight of their 12 teams with winning records (compare that to Luck’s PAC-12 that has five of their 12 teams with winning records). The SEC has six teams in the BCS top 25 with four of them being BCS bowl eligible with LSU and Alabama as the top teams in the country. The SEC is known for having the best and fastest defenses and Richardson is embarrassing them. Those statistically around him (like Wilson, Bernard Pierce, and Ray Graham) are in weaker conferences like the ACC, Atlantic 10, and Big East. If he finishes with 225 carries for the season he’ll have close to 1,800 yards and 28 touchdowns (projected). Reread that last sentence.
It’s funny that the best pro prospect in 25 years went to the same school as the best pro prospect 25 years ago. It’s also funny that if Andrew Luck lives up to Elway’s hype, then Stanford will have had two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL as their alumni. Having said that, in competition for a college sport’s “Most Outstanding Player,” do Luck’s NFL potential and talent equate him to winning the Heisman? He ranks 23rd in passing yards and 8th in touchdown passes. His three interceptions are third amongst that top 20. It sounds like a solid ratio, but look at the teams he played against. Of the seven teams, ONE team had a winning record,Washington. The others had losing records and Colorado was 1-7. His conference, the PAC-12 has three teams in the BCS top 25 with two of them being bow eligible. The Cardinals don’t play a team in the BCS top 25 until Oregon on November 12; the loser will drop far enough in the BCS that they won’t be BCS bowl eligible. So save Luck’s parade in New York for another day.
The both of them have their biggest games coming up in a few weeks and it will make or break their Heisman hopes. If Richardson runs all over LSU, arguably the best defense in the country, then he will no doubt be the favorite to win the Heisman. The same can be said for Stanford against Oregon. If Luck goes off against the Ducks then that ONE game against ONE good team will propel him far enough in the eyes of voters to win. That’s unfortunate because Richardson is the rightful owner to the Heisman Trophy.