Tomorrow, Heisman voters will turn in their ballot to select the next Heisman Trophy Winner.
The Heisman Trust defines the mission of the award as follows: The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.
One could ask each of the top teams in college football what this means to them. In the historical past, the winners of this award were truly outstanding individuals that exhibited tremendous ability in their given position. Lately, the award has gravitated towards the best player on the best team in football. Part of reason for the more recent trend is that the best teams getting the most exposure for their player. The problem with picking the best player on the best team is that you don't always give the award to the best athlete.
This year the award is truly wide open as there is no real candidate that has set himself apart from the field. The leaders are Andrew Luck from Stanford, Trent Richardson from Alabama, Robert Griffin from Baylor, Ball from Wisonsin, Kellen Moore from Boise State, and LaMichael James from Oregon.
Let's go through each candidate on the list.
Andrew Luck has stayed in college for his senior year in an attempt to try to win a national championship for Stanford. Luck has had a great year but one could argue that his Junior year was more impressive. Stanford has had two disappointing losses this season and in both losses Luck still had stout performances. Luck should be given consideration as a candidate for his leadership, overall ability as a quarterback, and his body of work over his college career.
Trent Richardson falls in the category of the "best" player on the "best" team. Unfortunately, Alabama is not the best team at this point. Alabama lost to LSU and Richardson did not perform in Bama's loss. Richardson has put up nice numbers but not great ones. He finally broke the 200 yard mark in a game against arch rival Auburn, but Auburn's defense is not stellar. Richardson has 1,583 yards rushing, unfortunately, this would be the lowest total rushing yardage by any Heisman running back in history. This would be close to a hundred yards less than the least productive Heisman running back and former teammate Mark Ingram and almost two hundred yards less than the second least productive Heisman running back in 50 years. To put this in perspective, last year's Heisman winning quarterback, Cam Newton, had 1,473 yards rushing as a quarterback. Lastly, Richardson isn't even the nations leading rusher, that distinction goes to Montee Ball of Wisconsin. Richardson should not be considered the front runner for the Heisman.
Robert Griffin III from Baylor has captured the true spirit of the Heisman Trophy. Griffin has shown leadership to his team, elevating an annual cellar dweller to a Big12 team that beat both Oklahoma and Texas in the same year. To put this in perspective, under Griffin, Baylor beat Oklahoma for the first time ever. His performance against Oklahoma was stellar. Griffin didn't even need overtime to win as he ended the game by throwing a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone. Griffin also put on another show to end the season against Texas. Griffin should be considered one of the front runners. Griffin also brings the most valuable to his team to the forefront of the discussion.
Ball leads one of the best offenses and plays for a solid team in the Wisconsin Badgers. He leads the nation in rushing over Trent Richardson and leads a high powered offense. Ball should be considered the leading running back in this years class of Heisman candidates. Unfortunately, Ball also shares the spotlight with teammate quarterback Russell Wilson.
Moore from Boise State has demonstrated consistency like no other candidate in the field. He too is most valuable to his team and in Boise State's losses, Kellen Moore has still played well. Moore has been consistent throughout his career and shows leadership. One would have to wonder how good Boise would be without him. Kellen Moore should be given more consideration than he receives.
LaMichael James from Oregon is one of the most exciting running backs in the Nation to watch. James seems to come up big in big games and always seems to have at least one long run for a touchdown in every appearance. James has shown what he can do constantly for the Ducks over the past few years. Oregon's losses may drop Jame's stock but he too should be considered as a top running back.
All of the athletes on this list should be given some consideration. The Heisman should not be a popularity award for the best player on the best team. This year is a rare year in that the field is wide open with no true front runner. This year it would be wise to choose an athlete that means the most to his team and program, regardless of his team's ranking. With three good running backs to consider, but none truly ahead of the rest, I would pass on a running back this year. That leaves us with the quarterbacks. The leaders should be Luck, Griffin, and Moore. Luck has been solid and so has Kellen Moore. One quarterback has been truly valuable to his team and that quarterback is Griffin.
In this year's wide open field, I would consider Griffin, then Luck and then Kellen Moore. Outside of those three, the award would just be a popularity prize. Lets hope a good choice is made.