Monday, December 7, 2009



The wording on the ballot reads “The Most Outstanding College Football Player.” It doesn’t say “Most Valuable” or “Most Likely to be an All-Pro” or “Best Player on the Best Team.” Voters often get that confused, or just don’t care. This is the very reason I have grown to have a great deal of animosity towards the process that chooses the award winner each year. In recent years I have even wondered if the award should even be handed out each December. My rationale being that it should not be dictated by school driven campaigns or talking head “expert” spin, but strictly by a player’s performance on the field. Full disclosure, I have had Colt McCoy as my odds on favorite to win the award this year since the preseason and he stayed pretty much on track until his performance in the Big XII Championship game. However, other candidates had already forced their way into my head for consideration before the game and McCoy’s performance the other night just was too much to ignore and my deck has been shuffled.

I believe in “Competitive Greatness” which means that players play at their very best when their very best is what is called for. There is no better example of that than when a player comes through on their team’s biggest stage and this weekend’s championship games provided such a stage and I cannot overlook the performances turned in under the glare of the season’s brightest lights.

My ballot reads as follows:

1. Toby Gerhart

Stanford’s senior running back and American Football Coaches Association All-America Toby Gerhart rushed for a Stanford single-season record 1,736 yards and 26 touchdowns this season.

From Stanford’s official website:

“Gerhart ranks second in the nation in rushing, averaging 144.7 yards per game, and he leads the nation in scoring (13.33) and touchdowns (26). He has rushed for 100 or more yards in 10 of Stanford's 12 games this season, including three games in which he rushed for 200 yards or more.

Gerhart was at his best down the stretch, as he averaged 185.5 yards a game and scored 13 touchdowns over Stanford's last four contests against No. 7 Oregon (223), No. 11 USC (178), California (136) and Notre Dame (205). The Cardinal posted a 3-1 record in those games to finish the regular season with an 8-4 overall record, its most wins in a single-season since the 2001 campaign.”

2. Ndumakong Suh

Ndumakong Suh has been absolutely dominant this season and took full advantage of the big stage the other night in the Big XII Championship game. Time after time I watched as Suh tossed the Texas offensive linemen and Colt McCoy around like they were rag dolls.

Suh started all 13 games for the Huskers and finished with 82 total tackles (50 solo), 23 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, an interception, 10 passes broken up, 24 quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and three blocked kicks.

Between a stat line like that and what I saw on the field all season, I came within a hair of giving the Nebraska defensive lineman my first place vote as the Heisman Trophy winner.

3. C.J. Spiller

C.J. Spiller has been the driving force behind Clemson’s success this season and he has done impacted the game in each of the three phases as a runner, a pass receiver and as a kick returner. Spiller finished 1,145 rushing yards, 445 receiving yards, 210 yards on punt returns and 708 yards on kick-off returns and 20 total touchdowns and averaged 192.9 total yards per game on his way to 2,508 all-purpose yards for the Tigers.

4. Mark Ingram

Alabama’s Mark Ingram has had a fantastic season for the Crimson Tide this year highlighted by his 200+ yard rushing performance against South Carolina. However, Ingram’s back-up Trent Richardson is very productive making the two players virtually interchangeable in the Tide’s offense and that takes a lot of shine off of Ingram’s apple for me. You cannot say that about the players I have listed above Ingram on my ballot.

Rushing gp-gs att gain loss net avg td lg avg/g
Mark Ingram 12-11 221 1447 18 1429 6.5 12 70 119.1

Receiving gp-gs no. yds avg td lg avg/g
Mark Ingram 12-11 28 246 8.8 3 31 20.5


MikeInValdosta said...

Hard to argue with your picks, but I think Stanford's win/loss record hurts Gerhart. I guess the same could be said for each of your top three. That is why I believe Ingram will get it.

I would love to see Suh win it.

Spiller did not show up in enough games, IMO, but he is really exciting to watch.

Randy Powers said...

I tried my best not to worry about W/L and that is how I wound up here. I know it usually does figure in to the equation, but I tried to just focus on the MOP like the ballot says. Ingram probably will win it, but that is all the more reason for me to be ANTI the current voting trends.

dclarksbr said...

Being raised to holler ROLL TIDE practically before I could speak, I would have to vote for Ingram. However, since I don't follow stats (and couldn't honestly tell you what most of them mean) I wouldn't even pretend to vote. However, after reading your post, I looked into each of them in turn. All are very promising, and as predicted, I have no idea who my pick would be.

All that said, Ray Melick of The Birmingham News reminded me of what you said about the pressure of the big lights:

"The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the "most outstanding college foot ball player," according to instructions. Not the best. Not the most valuable.

The most outstanding.

And there is no help in how you define "outstanding."

And that brings me back to Ingram who, while he may not be the best player on his own team, you could certainly argue he had the most outstanding season, particularly in the biggest games, of any player on what looks to be the best football team in the country."