Who Really Deserves the Heisman Trophy?

Thomas McGrathContributor IDecember 6, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 5:  Quarterback Colt McCoy #12 of the Texas Longhorns is sacked by Ndamukong Suh #93 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first quarter of the game at Cowboys Stadium on December 5, 2009 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

I have always thought the Heisman trophy was overrated.  I can think of countless snubs, plenty of undeserving winners, and an award ceremony that acts as if the winner is the next President of the United States. 

That being said, I have never been alive for a year where the media has been SO off on their favorites.  By my count there are FOUR deserving Heisman candidates, only two of which are getting any serious consideration for the award.  First, let's take a look at ESPNs current top-five candidates.

1. Colt McCoy - This is without a doubt the most undeserving candidate and would go down as the most undeserving winner in the history of the award.  McCoy's stats look fine: 3,500 passing yards, 27 TDs, 12 INTs and a 70 percent completion percentage certainly doesn't exclude him from consideration. 

When looking at McCoy's schedule, however, there are only three real games he played against quality defenses.  Against Oklahoma, McCoy went 21 of 39 (53.8%) for 127 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.  Against Oklahoma State he played a little better going 16 of 21 (76.2%) for 171 yards and 1 TD.  His last chance to really show something against a good defense was the Nebraska game. 

Instead of responding with a great performance, he turned in one of the worst of his career.  Against Nebraska, McCoy went 20 of 36 (55.6%) for 184 yards, 0 TDs (one rushing) and 3 INTS.  In that game, he gave up as many points (6) off his interceptions than he scored on his 1 yard TD run (not exactly a Heisman defining play). 

Worst of all, he almost cost his team the game at the end by not using the clock wisely.  In those three games McCoy finished 57 of 88 (64.7%) for 482 yards (5.4 yards per attempt), 2 TDs (plus 1 rushing) and 4 INTs.  There is NO WAY a guy who puts up those numbers in big games deserves to hoist this award.  The Heisman isn't for who can run up stats on Wyoming or UCF, so McCoy in doesn't deserve this award.

2. Toby Gerhart - Deserving choice.  This guy definitely deserves the award.  Unlike McCoy and Tebow he isn't playing with 10 NFL players around him.  Gerhart carried Stanford (and many defenders) on his back this year and made them bowl eligible for the first time in eight years. 

He, unlike McCoy, played well in every game.  His season low was 82 yards rushing against Wake Forrest, which was just one of two games where he didn't surpass 100 yards rushing. 

In Stanford's biggest game of the year, against Oregon, Gerhart responded with 223 yards rushing on 38 attempts (5.9 yards per carry) and 3 touchdowns in a Stanford upset.  He finished the season with 1736 yards on 311 attempts (5.6 yards per carry) and 26 touchdowns. 

3. Tim Tebow - It's really hard to criticize a former Heisman winner and two time national champion, but Tebow did nothing this year to deserve this award.  His statistics weren't amazing.  Tebow finished 182 of 279 (65.2%) for 2,413, 18 TDs, 5 INTs, 859 yards rushing on 203 attempts (4.2 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns. 

His best games came against the worst defenses (Florida Int., Florida St. and Troy) and struggled against the good defenses like Tennessee and Alabama. 

I fully expect Tebow to make the trip to New York (even I don't think he can win it), but after the loss and poor performance against 'Bama he doesn't deserve to.

4. Mark Ingram - Deserved choice.  Ingram's statistics don't match-up with Gerhart's, but he does play on the best team in the country.  He finished the season with 1,542 yards on 249 carries (6.2 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns.  Those are great statistics considering the conference he plays in. 

He has been inconsistent in some games with performances on 56, 50, and 30 yards rushing in three games.  That being said, the main reason why Ingram is a great candidate is that he has come up huge in the big games. 

Unlike McCoy, Ingram put his best foot forward when he played top competition.  Against Tennessee, Ingram ran for 99 yards on 18 carries (5.5 yards per carry), against LSU he ran for 144 yards on 22 carries (6.5 yards per carry), and against Florida he ran for 113 yards on 28 carries (4 yards per carry) with 3 TDs and caught 2 passes for 76 yards. 

Ingram's inconsistency makes him the weakest candidate of my four deserving choices, but because of the team he plays on he is also the most likely to of my four to hoist the trophy.

5. Kellen Moore - This selection has to be a kick in the groin to any college football fan who has seen Ndamukong Suh or CJ Spiller play this year.  Moore is a fine player.  He is accurate, smart, and heads a very good Boise State offense.  That being said, there is no way he deserves to even make the trip to New York. 

His team played one real team all year when they took on Oregon in week one.  In the game, Moore was anything but spectacular.  He relied heavily on the defense, completing 19 of 29 passes (65.5%) for 197 yards and 1 TD.  Those are good numbers, but not the type of performance that he needed to show he could dominate against top competition. 

Unfortunately, none of his other games were played against quality defenses, leaving most of his stats as irrelevant and not comparable to the other players in top conferences.

Now that I got that out of the way, here are the four DESERVING candidates in the order they deserve it. 

1. Ndamukong Suh - There are players who make you want to watch the game, then there are players who CHANGE the way you watch the game.  They don't come around very often, but Suh falls into the latter category (name me another defensive tackle who you watch INSTEAD of the quarterback as the play unfolds?). 

Nobody has ever dominated college football more from the defensive tackle position.  He single-handedly lead Nebraska (with the worst offense in the Big 12) to a nine-win season and within a second of a conference championship and a BCS bowl berth.  In the biggest games, he came up huge.  Against Virginia Tech, he finished with 9 tackles and 4, that's right 4, pass breakups. 

Against Missouri, he finished with 8 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception (that's not a typo either). 

Finally, in the biggest game of the year, against Texas, Suh made 12 tackles, 8 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks (a Big 12 title game record).  Suh dominated ESPN's No. 1 candidate Colt McCoy all night, and anyone who watched the game could see that he was the most outstanding player on the field- just like he was all season. 

There is no way he wins the award.  He doesn't play on offense, he doesn't return kicks, and he doesn't play on one of ESPNs favorite teams, but there is no player in the country who is more outstanding than Ndamukong Suh.

2. Toby Gerhart - see above.

3. CJ Spiller - When the season began, most announcers were salivating over California's Jahvid Best.  He garnered numerous comparisons to former USC standout Reggie Bush and was labeled the most dynamic playmaker in the country.  At season's end, there is no question who the most dynamic player in the country ACTUALLY was. 

Spiller was the ultimate do everything player.  He rushed for 1,145 yards on 201 carries (5.7 yards per carry) with 11 TDs, he had 33 receptions for 445 yards (12.8 yards per reception) with 4 TDs, and he had 34 returns (13 punt, 21 kickoff) for 918 yards (27 yards per return) and 5 touchdowns. 

Overall, that's 2,508 yards on 268 touches (9.4 yards per touch) and 20 TDs.  That is unbelievable.  Add to that the fact that Spiller lead Clemson to their first ever ACC championship game and you get a very deserving Heisman candidate.

4. Mark Ingram - see above.

I realize that this is not the way the Heisman will end up.  That's why I don't take it seriously and don't think it's a good award.  Of my four candidates, only Gerhart and Ingram will go to New York, and only Ingram has a real chance to win the award. 

Chances are McCoy goes home with the hardware because he is the most recognizable face and because writers, who are paid to know what they are talking about, won't take the hour I just did to look over the resumes of these players.  The Heisman has always been the biggest sham in sports, and this year is likely to be the one of most prominent examples of that.


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