When college football fans across the country tune into ESPN at 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday night to watch the 2008 Heisman Trophy presentation—they will be treated to a must-see presentation.
They’ll watch highlights of Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford's calm hand guiding his team to five straight 60 points or more performances—a feat no other team in college football history has accomplished.
Fans will watch Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's superhuman strength and the punishment he put on defenders in leading his Gators to the SEC title and another BCS National Championship berth.
Tebow’s face will look strikingly familiar because he won the award last season. Also because of ESPN's love affair with Tebow—constantly playing his highlights and stories about Tebow's missionary work in the Philippines.
Fans will also get a good look at Colt McCoy, the golden boy and gunslinger extraordinaire for the Texas Longhorns. McCoy’s 77 percent passing accuracy this season is uncanny.
Fans will get to hear about McCoy, Bradford, and Tebow, but the one player they won’t be hearing about is Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell.
Harrell, for some odd reason, wasn’t invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony—despite posting numbers comparable to the other three finalists.
This year, Harrell was an assassin with the pigskin, commanding the nation’s top ranked aerial assault. The Red Raiders tormented defenses all season long with their passing attack this season, piling up over 417 yards per game.
Harrell’s numbers are difficult to put up in EA Sports NCAA Football ’09, let alone in real life!
Let’s put it this way, in the 2008 season, Harrell was ranked in the top ten in the nation in five major categories: second in total passing yards(4,747), second in passing yards per game (395.5), ninth in passing efficiency(163.0), second in total offense (390.8), and fourth in points responsible for (23.83).
He also managed to complete a staggering 71.4 percent of his passes despite leading the nation in passing attempts with 568. Now compare that with Tebow’s 64.9 completion percentage and only 268 pass attempts and Harrell's statistics look even more impressive.
Then you look at McCoy’s ridiculous completion percentage and nearly 200 fewer pass attempts and you see the impressive accomplishments of Harrell.
Finally, take a look at Bradford’s 68.3 completion percentage with only 442 pass attempts. All three of those stats prove one thing—Harrell’s completion percentage with over 550 pass attempts is out of this world!
Did I mention that Harrell also passed for more yards this season than any of the three finalists? Oh yeah, and I guess that whole game-winning touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree never happened in the Texas game either! Who will ever forget that beautifully lofted “back-shoulder fade” to stun the top-ranked Longhorns before a nationally televised audience?
Last, but not least, this is the same Harrell who played with two shattered fingers in his non-throwing hand against Baylor and lifted his team to a 35-28 comeback victory.
The Red Raiders were trailing by 14, but Harrell drove the offense down the field multiple times to put up 21 straight points—ensuring the Red Raiders of their first 11-win season since 1973.
I’m not trying to belittle the accomplishments of the Heisman finalists—Bradford, Tebow, and McCoy are all very deserving. They all posted astronomical numbers on the gridiron this season and led their teams to dazzling campaigns.
I’m just saying that Graham Harrell deserves to be invited to New York with them. I realize his chances of winning the award were slim because the Heisman committee decided to choose the finalists due to a “natural breaking point” in the votes.
Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach was justifiably furious about the snub. Leach said Wednesday that, "If Graham is not invited to the Heisman, they ought to quit giving out the award. It is a shameless example of politics ruling over performance."
Leach has every right to be mad, because his quarterback had one of the best seasons in college football history and the Heisman committee was too blind to see that.
Just remember that when you’re watching the ceremony on Saturday night and you feel like there’s something missing—there is.
And it's Graham Harrell.