Manti Te'o: Why Notre Dame LB's Case for Heisman Trophy Comes Up Short
It's hard to argue with 103 tackles and seven interceptions., but it's even more difficult to argue with 12-0.
There's no denying that Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te'o has been one of the most dominant players in college football this season. He led the Fighting Irish to an undefeated regular season and helped them clinch a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.
However, there comes a point where Te'o's Heisman Trophy case falls short.
Who is the Heisman front-runner in your eyes?
Sure, he has 42 more tackles than the next leading Notre Dame defender this season. Yes, I know Te'o has three more picks than the next leading linebacker in the nation. But if Te'o supporters have any argument at all, it's that their man is the most valuable player in college football, not the most outstanding.
That honor belongs to Texas A&M redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel, who has racked up 4,600 total yards and 43 total touchdowns in 12 games this season while leading the Aggies to a 10-2 record in their first season in the SEC.
The Heisman is awarded to the nation's most outstanding player, not the best player on the best team. Baylor's Robert Griffin III proved that just last year. His numbers were phenomenal, but his team had three losses.
This from the Heisman's official website:
For the 78th time since its inception in 1935, the Heisman Memorial Trophy will be awarded to an individual designated as the outstanding college football player in the United States.
Awarding the Heisman to Manziel is not a knock against Te'o, but instead against what the award stands for. It's not a most valuable player award, but perhaps it should be. Otherwise Te'o would win going away. After all, there's no argument that can be made that Te'o hasn't been the most valuable player in college football this season.
He's carried Notre Dame's prolific defense on his back since September and has done it while overcoming tremendous adversity.
Te'o's individual accomplishments must be honored and awarded this December in some way. And if that way happens to be in the form of the Heisman, it will be well deserved and appropriate.
Having witnessed Te'o's impact on the Irish all year long, and learning what kind of high character person he is, I would be the first to congratulate him on winning the most coveted individual award in college football.
Unfortunately, his highlight reel plays have been few and far between in comparison to Manziel, and that's why many will associate the pose with Johnny Football in 2012.
At least until the Heisman is redefined.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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