Dear Nebraska Cornhusker Fans,
I just wanted to send you a quick note affirming what you already know. Ndamukong Suh, titan of the interior line and the prized jewel of your '09 blackshirts...totally got robbed. The Heisman was his, and they took it from him. There is no doubt in my mind.
Now, I know that I am not the only one telling you this. All of you know this good and well. However, I wanted to put this injustice into perspective by utilizing a bit of Cowboy history. If you don't mind lending me your attention, I will briefly make my point.
In 1988, Barry Sanders ran away with the Heisman Trophy. Literally. Breaking the single season rushing record and record for touchdowns, Sanders was a no-brainer for the Heisman. While the Cowboys finished with a 10-2 record and No. 11 in the polls, it was quite clear, Sanders was the man everyone would remember from 1988.
The reason? Barry Sanders was irreplaceable. There was no other running back in the league that could even approach his level that year. There were better teams, and many a great game that year. Every single one of those teams, Notre Dame and Miami included, would have bent over backwards to have Sanders on their team.
What does this have to do with Suh? Simply put, Suh fits the profile perfectly. While he may not have shattered any single season records along the way, Suh wowed everyone by leading his team in tackles, something that basically never happens when you are on the defensive interior line.
He controlled games. He was a one man highlight reel. He was not only the best player on his team, not only the best at his position, but on the entire defensive side of the ball. There is not a team on the face of the planet, not Texas, not Alabama, that wouldn’t sell their grandmothers for ransom in order to have Suh playing for their team. He is clearly the most dominant player on defense bar none.
However, the key to my argument is that, quite unlike Barry Sanders, every other finalist is far from irreplaceable. When it comes right down to it, Mark Ingram and Toby Gerhart are almost interchangeable stat wise (1,542 yards and 15 TDs to 1,736 yards and 26 TD's...if anything, Gerhart was the more impressive back).
One can make the argument that neither back is even the most important player on their team. Ingram had a big SEC championship game, we've seen running backs have games like that before. Suh's performance in the Big XII championship was one of a kind. The image of Suh tossing around McCoy like a ragdoll is worthy of sharing a highlight reel with some of Barry's runs. I wouldn't say the same of Ingram.
The same goes with the Quarterbacks. McCoy and Tebow are both inferior versions of past campaigns. And let’s not forget that the same game Suh dominated was the same game Colt McCoy did his best ’09 Jake Delhomme impression. Not only that, there doesn't seem to be all that much, stat-wise or in regards to importance to their team, that really separates these two from a Jimmy Clausen or a Case Keenum for that matter.
Except that Texas and Florida, (and of course Alabama) are all playing for BCS bowls. Nebraska, of course, is not. In 1988, even if their would have been a BCS series, there’s a good chance Barry and the Cowboys would have set out as well. Perhaps that will always be the problem with the Heisman anymore.
If your team isn't playing in a BCS game, then you're probably not going to take home the hardware. Which is a shame. It would have been a shame in ’88, and it’s a shame in ’09. Suh is a one of a kind player, and should be rewarded for making 2009 such a memorable defensive campaign. Just like Barry Sanders made 1988 a year we Cowboys would never forget. I send you my deepest condolences.
An OSU Cowboy fan