Tuck: Heisman Trophy Not About Wins

By Mike Tuck
Host, Tuck & O'Neill

First, let me say that the voting process for the Heisman Trophy is far from perfect.  When voters openly admit to giving their 3rd place votes to either a local (to their area) star or a great story, underdog, small-school, or whatever, then you’re admitting to not voting for the “3rd best player.”  It’s also quite obvious that despite our advanced technology where just about every game can be seen by everybody the voting still ends up “regionalized.”

Some people are stats based.  Some are wins based.  Some honor career achievement instead of a singular season.  Some factor in likability and off-field behavior.  Most only look at offensive players.  Even more only look at quarterbacks.  It’s a predictable award until it isn’t.  And then it’s like herding cattle.  TV and internet will direct the flow of traffic over the next two weeks on what should happen.  But be careful because you could get redirected quickly.

It’s funny in some ways because we pretend to say these certain guys are the best players for 6, 7, 8 weeks, and then they have a bad game, or their team has a bad game, and it’s like they aren’t any good any more.  They stopped being a great player worthy of the highest honor.  And a guy not even being mentioned is suddenly thrust ahead, often-times not for what they’ve done, but because they haven’t messed up.

So I found it amusing when the talk this weekend was about Bryce Petty, Marcus Mariota, and Johnny Manziel being eliminated from the Heisman race because their teams lost/they struggled.  Curious to me is that it was Petty’s 1st loss, Mariota’s 2nd, and Manziel’s 3rd.

What is the math on that one?

I am not saying losses shouldn’t count, but it’s funny how the number and when they happen changes based on the players or teams I guess.

It is an individual honor.  Teams win and lose games.  Individuals can be brilliant in defeat and mediocre in victory.  I just think that the losses matter less than most.

I laugh at the idea of these great players being “eliminated” because we’ve had players who have lost games win the award.

Johnny Manziel lost two games a season ago, and didn’t look very good in either loss.  But he deserved to win the Heisman because he was the best player, and most valuable player in the country and had an impressive, even historic, body of work.

Robert Griffin III won the award the year before.  Andrew Luck was probably the best player in the country, and even lost one less game, but it was the QB of a 3-loss Baylor team that took home the honor.  Baylor was even blown out in back-2-back weeks during the season, so not even that could deter voters.

Tim Tebow lost 2 games combined his junior and senior seasons at Florida.  But he won the Heisman in his sophomore season when he lost 3 regular season games because of his big stats.

If anything, we’ve seen the voters evolve to tolerate losing more recently, not less.  Paul Hornung once won the Heisman on a 2-8 team.  So the idea of there being eliminating losses is a fallacy.

Personally, FSU QB Jameis Winston has been my choice for weeks now, and I see no reason to change it.  He’s meant the most to his team, and has played like the best player in America.  It just so happens his team is also unbeaten.

Even if he is charged next week with sexual assault, he’d still get my vote.  I’d feel worse about denying him the award if he is found not guilty than I would awarding him the Heisman and he is convicted.  It’s not as if the award hasn’t been giving to “cheaters” or “murderers” before.

If Alabama QB AJ McCarron happens to win, it would be like giving it to Miami QB Gino Torretta back in 1991.  A good quarterback leading the “best” team in the country.  Wins and losses and career achievement would become the biggest reasons why he’d win.  I like AJ McCarron as a player and he has put together a legendary college career, but the Heisman wouldn’t be given to the best player…which is what I thought was the idea of the award.

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