When the Downtown Athletic Club presented the Heisman Trophy to Mark Ingram, those of us who disagreed with the selection took a considerable amount of heat for various reasons. Accusations of spitting on Ingram were thrown around—the rationale being that Ingram is such a great player and an even bigger sweetheart that the coronation must be swallowed with a smile—anything less implies he was unworthy of the award.
If your definition of unworthy is "not the worthiest," then I guess that's an accurate—if uncharitable—characterization of our stance. I'd argue we're saying that all of the finalists were, by definition, "worthy" of the Stiff Arm, but only one player deserved it above the others, and it wasn't Ingram.
The Alabama Crimson Tide running back may very well have been the best football player in that room and he is, undoubtedly, one of the brightest beacons of hope for the future character of college/professional athletics.
But I don't see how an individual award based on some combination of outstanding performance and value to the team went to a kid with comparably inferior bodies of work in both categories for the season.
Those inclined to do so can defend the selection by contending it stayed consistent to the spirit of the Heisman Trophy, which is meant to recognize the best player on the best team in the country. It's sound logic, and yet it's not much of a defense.
If that's the case, why the hell invite anyone but the Texas Longhorns' Colt McCoy and Ingram? After all, only the Tide and 'Horns are squaring off for the Crystal Football.
If you want to stand on ceremony and fill out the room, where were the players from the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs, Cincinnati Bearcats, and Boise State Broncos? I mean, if playing for one of the best teams in the country is truly a prerequisite for the Heisman, it seems cruel to pretend anyone else has a legitimate shot.
It also seems repulsively absurd to indirectly give the Bowl Championship Series even MORE sway over college football. But that's just my opinion.
Back to the point...
Sadly, those wayward souls residing in the "you're spitting on Ingram" camp won't be appeased by what I'm about to write; they'll probably be further incensed.
Hopefully, a different set will be mollified—those who accused me of attacking Ingram's victory simply because I'm a Stanford alumnus and because the Cardinal's Toby Gerhart didn't emerge from the scrum with hardware in hand.
I still think Gerhart should've won the Heisman because he was the most outstanding and most valuable player in America. That will not change.
Yet I'm well aware the margin between Toby and the Nebraska Cornhuskers' Ndamukong Suh was so razor thin that my bias probably explains a clear preference for the running back.
Which is why I can truthfully say the Associated Press absolutely NAILED the voting for its College Football Player of the Year .
The institution tabbed the ferocious defensive tackle for its honor, once again leaving Gerhart to play the bridesmaid. It's unfortunate, but any vote that had the dynamic duo in red and white finishing first and second can't be criticized.
Even if my guy didn't win (happy?).
The fact remains that both Suh and Gerhart were unadulterated beasts for their respective squads. They posted unreal numbers, made enormous imprints on huge games, and overcame media vacuums to garner national attention.
Don't bother searching for a second fiddle in Palo Alto or Lincoln.
King Kong and Gerhart the Great were the appetizers, main courses, and desserts. Suh was quite literally the whole enchilada for the 'Huskers, whereas Gerhart obviously got considerable help from his fantastic offensive line. Nevertheless, he was basically Stanford's only hope to move the pigskin effectively (read—to win).
Regardless of how you define outstanding—in terms of numbers, in terms of value, relative to the player's own team, relative to the national field—these two were Nos. 1a and 1b.
Or vice versa.
The race between Ndamukong Suh and Toby Gerhart really was too close to call. Alas, somebody had to lose because one winner is always better than kissing your cousin.
So congratulations to the Cornhusker.
And congratulations to the Associated Press for getting it right.