The 2009 Heisman Voting Debate – It is the Heisman Award for 2009… NOT 2006 through 2008!

December 7, 2009

Read Loyal Homer’s argument and Sports Geek’s argument about who their picks for the 2009 Heisman Trophy are.

There are a lot of different theories on how voting should take place in the annual awarding of the Heisman Trophy. Some argue that the trophy should be used as recognition for the most outstanding player over an impressive collegiate career, while others would argue that a strong close to the season in high-profile games is all that is necessary to lock up the award. I, on the other hand, feel that the award for college’s most outstanding player should actually go to COLLEGE’S MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER – how silly of me!

Many people are going to be clamoring for Colt McCoy to be named the 2009 Heisman winner. Their reasoning is that he has had an outstanding college career, and deserves the award for his consistently strong performances. That reasoning is flawed, though. Two thousand and nine has been one of McCoy’s WORST seasons, statistically! Both 2006 AND 2008 were better seasons for McCoy, with 2007 as the only year in his career where he threw for FEWER touchdowns, and MORE interceptions than in 2009. If you were TRULY interested in recognizing the player with the best collegiate CAREER, it would be Tim Tebow who deserved the award, not Colt McCoy!

The REAL reason that some folks want McCoy to win the award is because he has not yet, and Tebow and Sam Bradford have. The last time I checked, though, the Heisman is for the MOST OUTSTANDING player, not the player we feel most sorry for. McCoy’s BEST seasons did not stack up against Tebow or Bradford, so why would one of his WORST seasons suddenly earn him the award? It just does not make sense.

The player who DOES deserve to win the award this year, however, is Stanford running back Toby Gerhart! By far the best running back of the 2009 season, no player has had a greater impact on his team than has Gerhart, who led the nation both in rushing yards (1,736) and touchdowns (26). And while you would expect strong performances against weak teams (such as Washington State and San Jose State), Gerhart actually turned in his BEST performances against some of the toughest teams in the country!

In 2009, Stanford took the field against four different teams that were ranked in the top-25 at the time – Washington (#24), Oregon (#8), USC (#9) and California (#25). In his four games against those top-level opponents, Gerhart rushed for a combined 737 yards (an average of 184.25 yards per game) and 11 touchdowns. In addition, Gerhart helped to send Charlie Weis packing as he tacked on an additional 205 yards and three more touchdowns in his final regular season game against Notre Dame!

Gerhart scored MULTIPLE touchdowns in nine of 12 games this season, and reached the end zone at least once in every game (except one). He also eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark in three different games this season, including a season-high 223 yards and three touchdowns against the Pac-10 champion the Oregon Ducks!

Toby Gerhart was the most outstanding player of the 2009 season! Simply put, he made the difference between winning and losing in 2009 for Stanford. Last season, the Cardinal managed to win only five games all season. For his part, Gerhart put up only 1,136 yards and 15 touchdowns. In 2009, however, he rushed for an additional 700 yards and 11 touchdowns in the same number of games played, helping lead Stanford to an eight-win season and a Sun Bowl invitation against the Oklahoma Sooners on New Years Eve. When Gerhart was held to less than 100-yards rushing (which occurred only twice in the entire season), Stanford lost. On the flip-side, though, he rushed for at least 175 yards in four separate games, including both the USC and the Oregon matchups, leading Stanford to victory all four times. He is an outstanding player on a mediocre team. Thanks to his presence that mediocre team became a Pac-10 contender with two wins against top-10 teams in 2009. I would call that making a Heisman-worthy impact!

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The Heisman Trophy Sleepers Debate – The “Best” of the Rest

August 21, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s and Loyal Homer’s arguments on which of the Heisman Candidates are the most likely ‘sleepers’ to break the ranks of Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, or Colt McCoy.

Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, and Sam Bradford are all favorites for the 2009 Heisman trophy for one reason only – they will be the featured players on teams that are expected to compete for the BCS National Championship. As the quarterbacks for Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma respectively, expectations are that at least one, if not all three, will be leading their teams towards a chance at the national crown. When you have that kind of supporting cast and spotlight around you, it is kind of hard NOT to be a favorite for the award.

That does not mean those quarterbacks are the best three college football players in the NCAA for the 2009 season. With all due respect to the three Heisman “favorites,” it can be easy to look like a superstar when you are on the best team in football. Just ask Tim Tebow, for example. His Florida Gators are the reigning National Champions. They lost very little of their talent to graduation and the NFL last year (wide receiver Percy Harvin is the only departure of note), and are the proud owners of one of the weakest non-conference schedules in college football. Anything short of absolute DOMINATION during those games is utter failure. By my count, Florida should AVERAGE a 24-point margin of victory against Charleston Southern, Troy, Florida International, and Florida State. On their way to collective domination, Tebow should rack up some impressive statistics of his own.

More impressive in my book is the ability to succeed DESPITE a lack of fanfare. The player who will do that in 2009 is California running back Jahvid Best.

Here is the difference. Oklahoma is still a great team this year WITHOUT Sam Bradford. Likewise, if Texas were without Colt McCoy, or Florida played sans Tebow, they would still make formidable opponents and would likely remain in the top 25 rankings all season long. The Golden Bears of California, however, NEED Jahvid Best if they are going to compete for the Pac-10 title and a shot at a BCS bid in 2009. Bradford, McCoy, and Tebow are very good players in high-profile positions on great teams. Best is a great player on an average team, and he elevates the talent of those players around him.

Best is an explosive runner with big-play potential. In 2008, he ran for touchdowns of greater than 80 yards THREE different times! He combines speed with power, all packed into a 5-foot 10-inch frame. He is difficult to tackle, and nearly impossible to catch once he gets into the open field. Expect him to be a dominant presence on the field all season long.

Last year, en route to a 9-4 record and a fourth-place finish in the Pac-10 for California, Jahvid Best managed to rush for over 1,500 yards on only 194 attempts. That is an average of more than eight yards per carry! While four other running backs gained more rushing yards than Best, (Donald Brown of Connecticut, Shonn Greene of Iowa, MiQuale Lewis of Ball State, and Javon Ringer of Michigan State), they each needed at least 100 more carries to reach their totals. When you add his receiving and return yardage to those numbers, Jahvid Best finished the 2008 season with the second most all-purpose yards in the nation, behind Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin. Simply put, when Best gets the ball, yards will follow!

Many believe 2009 is the year that Cal FINALLY has a chance to end the perennial domination of Pete Carroll and the USC Trojans in the Pac-10. With the much depleted USC starting lineup (having lost 11 players to the NFL draft last year, including sux on the first day), fans in Berkeley hope this is the year their Golden Bears have the opportunity to end the current seven year streak of USC championships. If Cal is truly going to make that push, it will have to come on the shoulders of Jahvid Best.

Best does not have an easy road ahead of him. But, if Cal finds themselves sitting atop the Pac-10 standings in December, then expect to find Best sitting atop the Heisman vote totals!

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The How to Judge a College Player Debate – What’s the Best Way to Judge a College Football Player’s Success?

August 19, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s argument that performance at the collegiate level is the measure by which college athletes should be rated and evaluated, and Loyal Homer’s argument that the players potential to perform in the NFL is a better standard by which to gauge and evaluate them.

When the media’s pre-season All-SEC team was announced at the beginning of the month, there was no surprise seeing Tim Tebow’s name. There was some surprise, though, in the fact that he was NOT the name on top of the list. Somehow, there was another player in the SEC who garnered more of the 64 votes than Tebow did (granted, it was only one more vote, but it was enough to cause a buzz!). That person was defensive back Eric Berry of the Tennessee Volunteers.

Berry’s place at the top of the list is not without justification. He was a unanimous All-American last year, and is expected to set a new NCAA record for interception return yards very early in the 2009 season. The surprise lies in the fact that Tim Tebow, a favorite to win the 2009 Heisman Trophy award (which would be his second) and the leader of the reigning national champion Florida Gators, has been a dominant presence in the media since becoming the first player in NCAA history to both rush for AND pass for at least 20 touchdowns in the same year, 2007. He was expected to receive the most votes.

When considering the accomplishments Tebow has already racked up, add to those accomplishments the expectations for Tebow and the Gators this year – I do not think anyone would have disagreed if Tebow was named a unanimous selection. So you can imagine our surprise when he not only fell short of the unanimous vote, but also was not even the top vote getter on the list!

It made us wonder what, exactly, was the criteria these voters were using when they cast their ballots?

There can be little doubt that Tim Tebow is one of the most accomplished players in college football history. He has two national championships, has one Heisman award, and is a favorite this year to add to both of those totals. Eric Berry cannot boast a resume like that. What Berry CAN claim, at least in many media circles, is that he has a greater likelihood to move on and be successful in the professional ranks.

Berry is already considered to be a top prospect for the NFL Draft next year. His head coach at Tennessee, Lane Kiffin, is a former NFL head coach and agrees that Berry will be a very likely success at the next level. For Tim Tebow, on the other hand, expectations are not as high. Many believe that Tebow will move on to the NFL, but few expect him to continue as a successful quarterback once he leaves the college game.

So the question posed to Sports Geek and Loyal Homer today is:

Which is the better criteria by which to evaluate a college player, college success or pro potential?

NCAA Football is generally considered to be a feeder system into the professional ranks. Does that mean that a player’s potential to take the next step should be the key benchmark by which to rate their success? On the other hand, is a players ability to produce and succeed within the college game the better standard, even if that player is not likely to see continued success once they move on to the professional game?

Sports Geek will argue that the better measure is the player’s collegiate resume. While the NCAA football programs are viewed unofficially as a feeder system into the NFL, they are NOT minor league organizations. NCAA football is a separate entity from the NFL, and accomplishments and credentials garnered while in that game should be evaluated on their own merit, not how they would translate into a professional game.

Loyal Homer will argue that a player’s professional potential is the better barometer for evaluating their talent. Athletes at the highest level of college football are expected to move on to the NFL, so that naturally should be the standard by which those players are evaluated and compared against one another. If fans and the media expect those players to move to the next level of the game, then the best method for rating those players is to determine their likelihood of success.

As for me, I’m going to try and answer the question of what happened to Tim Tebow’s shirt?

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