P.S.R. 2010 Heisman Watch: Week 12
By Paul Myerberg // Nov 15, 2010
I keep coming back to the Heisman Trust’s mission statement, which can be summed up in one sentence:
“The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”
That’s all: simply combine your on-field excellence with off-field integrity. Simple, though not quite. Suspicious circumstances surrounding your recruitment, enough so where the N.C.A.A. — not to mention the F.B.I. — is paying close interest? Check. A star running back who was handed a one-game suspension for an off-season altercation — whether blown out of proportion or otherwise — with his girlfriend? On the list. A wonderfully talented wide receiver who was suspended for a conference game after driving under the influence? He’s in the Heisman mix. The options are clear: simply go for the best player in the country, which would be easy, or begin to inspect each player’s candidacy according to the mission statement put forth by the Heisman Trust. That’s hard.
1. QB Kellen Moore, Boise State (Last week: No. 3)
Week 11 W 52-14 at Idaho (19 of 26 for 216 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT)
Year to date 174 of 242 for 2588 yards, 21 TD, 4 INT
Why Moore and not Cam Newton? See below. Why Moore and not LaMichael James in this spot? It’s neck-and-neck, and for good reason. James is the engine behind the nation’s top team; Moore is the engine behind the nation’s top story, a Boise State team hungry for a title shot. The lone difference — and the difference is only by a hair: Moore has been overwhelmingly consistent, while James sputtered in Oregon’s near disaster in Berkeley. Now, one week does not a season make. Still, when each player is so close, one average performance can mean the difference. Moore’s game against Idaho, all achieved in one half of play: 19 of 26 for 216 yards and 3 scores. Just another day at the office.
Week 12 vs. Fresno State, Friday
2. RB LaMichael James, Oregon (Last week: No. 2)
Week 11 W 15-13 at California (29 carries for 91 yards; 2 reception for 11 yards)
Year to date 225 for 1522 yards, 17 TD; 10 receptions for 149 yards, 1 TD
It says much about James that rushing for 91 yards is disappointing. If not disappointing, his struggles against California were surprising. Credit the Golden Bears and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, who made a concerted effort to stop James first, making the rest of the U.O. offense a secondary concern. In doing so, Pendergast may have identified a way to beat the Ducks. Don’t count on this happening twice: Chip Kelly will make changes, and James will be back to his normally potent self when Oregon returns to play against Arizona next Friday. As if the Wildcats don’t have enough to worry about: now they’ll have to take on a running back hungry to make amends for his worst performance of the season. Here’s betting James has a big day against Arizona.
Week 12 bye
3. QB Cam Newton, Auburn (Last week: No. 1)
Week 11 W 49-31 vs. Georgia (12 of 15 for 148 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 30 carries for 151 yards, 3 TD)
Year to date 135 of 198 for 2038 yards, 21 TD, 6 INT; 196 carries for 1297 yards, 17 TD
I expect to be dismissed for moving Newton down this list, particularly given this important fact: there’s no doubt that Newton is playing the best football of any player in the country. There’s also no doubt that Newton is the most important player in the country; without Newton, Auburn’s no better than 8-3 at this point, I feel safe in saying. Regardless, I fear that Newton’s candidacy is tarnished by the circumstances surrounding his recruitment. Let’s go off the fact that Cecil Newton, his father, has admitted to attempting to broker a pay-for-play deal with Mississippi State. Even if Auburn did not pony up a dime to land Newton’s signature, Newton’s eligibility would eventually be voided. Forget about integrity; if Newton’s ineligible, he’s obviously not eligible for the 2010 Heisman.
So why include him on this list at all? You’ve got me there. Perhaps because Newton likely didn’t do anything wrong — it was his father, along with Kenny Rogers, who seem to be at fault in this potentially dreadful situation. Punishing Newton for that pair’s missteps seems wrong, even if it follows the N.C.A.A.’s letter of the law. So Newton remains on this list; if everything were equal, if the rising specter of N.C.A.A. sanctions were not hovering over his head, Auburn’s quarterback would be the clear leader.
Update There’s a great comment below, which I’ve placed here to avoid it getting lost in the shuffle:
I think you need to begin with an understanding of the actual voting process and the rules by which it is governed. This is what the very short and simple ballot says:
“I hereby designate _____________ as my First Choice to receive the Heisman Memorial Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding college football player in the United States for 2010. To the best of my knowledge, he conforms to the rules governing this vote.”
RULES GOVERNING VOTE: In order that there be no misunderstanding regarding the eligibility of a candidate, the recipient of the award must be a bona fide student of an accredited college or university including the United States Academies. The recipient must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA Student Athlete.
That’s it, plus places to list your second and third choices.
Too little information exists at this time to deny Newton the Heisman and you even say “Newton likely didn’t do anything wrong.”
Further, this is not a fact: “Even if Auburn did not pony up a dime to land Newton’s signature, Newton’s eligibility would eventually be voided.” NCAA rules are not that simple.
You are also jumping to conclusions about Cecil Newton’s actions. You go too far in saying, “Let’s go off the fact that Cecil Newton, his father, has admitted to attempting to broker a pay-for-play deal with Mississippi State.” That specific allegation you make is not a fact. All we know, through a TV report paraphrasing a source, is that Cecil Newton “admitted having conversations with an ex-Mississippi State University player about the possibility of under-the-table money.”
Having conversations does not equal having attempted to broker a deal. We do not know who initiated the conversations or what actions were taken by whom. I could describe to you several scenarios where Newton was approached by former Mississippi State football players who attempted to orchestrate a deal.
Let’s be honest, you’re not denying Newton your Heisman ‘vote’ based on integrity, facts or anything other than your assumptions and the unknown. That’s not what governs the Heisman voting process.
Very fair points. I can’t argue with any of it. But I do feel we need to consider the fact that Newton might very well be declared ineligible before the end of his college career.
4. QB Andrew Luck, Stanford (Last week: No. 4)
Week 11 W 17-13 at Arizona State (33 of 41 for 292 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; 3 carries for 3 yards)
Year to date 208 of 275 for 2405 yards, 19 TD, 7 INT; 40 carries for 333 yards, 3 TD
Luck’s the leader among the second grouping, the next tier of players who are battling for an invite to Manhattan but are clearly trailing the top threesome. His candidacy rests on a simple premise: consistency, even in defeat, and the leadership coveted at the game’s most important position. Then there are his numbers, which are superb. Then there’s the fact that Stanford, only shortly removed from incompetence, is very much in the mix for a Rose Bowl berth. Luck has it all — but it will be hard for him to leapfrog into the top three.
Week 12 at California, Saturday
5. WR Justin Blackmon, Okla. St. (Last week: No. 10)
Week 11 W 33-16 at Texas (9 receptions for 145 yards, 1 TD)
Year to date 84 receptions for 1430 yards, 16 TD; 4 carries for 77 yards, 1 TD
Blackmon’s numbers are simply impossible to ignore. Double-teamed, triple-teamed, bracketed, what have you: it doesn’t matter. Blackmon’s getting his yards, getting his catches, getting his scores, and no team — not even Nebraska, with the nation’s best secondary — has been able to slow him down. Texas, which has a talented secondary of its own, was the latest to fall victim to Blackmon’s rare blend of size and speed. The count continues: at least five receptions in every game, at least 125 yards receiving in every game and at least one touchdown in each of the nine games Blackmon has played.
Week 12 at Kansas, Saturday
6. QB Andy Dalton, T.C.U. (Last week: No. 5)
Week 11 W 40-35 vs. San Diego State (21 of 36 for 240 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT; 3 carries for -3 yards)
Year to date 185 of 279 for 2482 yards, 23 TD, 6 INT; 73 carries for 415 yards, 5 TD
Currently 11-0, T.C.U. can clinch a perfect regular season with a win on Nov. 27 against New Mexico. I think the Horned Frogs will finish 12-0. Little did we know that getting to 11-0 would be so difficult: T.C.U. turned an early 14-0 deficit into a 34-14 lead, but needed a late defensive stand to hold onto a 40-35 win over San Diego State. Like the offense as a whole, Dalton did most of his damage in the first half; all four of his touchdowns, along with most of his yardage, came over the first 30 minutes. It wasn’t a bad thing for T.C.U. to be tested, especially with New Mexico coming up in two weeks, but the narrow margin of victory hurt T.C.U. on a national level. Dalton performed well, however, and remains the top senior on this list.
Week 12 bye
7. QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas (Last week: No. 6)
Week 11 W 58-21 vs. UTEP (19 of 26 for 215 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT)
Year to date 191 of 284 for 2663 yards, 23 TD, 7 INT
Poor UTEP never stood a chance against Mallett and the Razorbacks, who pounded out 49 points through three quarters before cruising through the fourth quarter. Mallett didn’t play in the final quarter, giving way to his eventual replacement, Tyler Wilson, but nevertheless tied a career-high with five touchdowns. Above all else, Mallett continues to make great strides forward in his accuracy: Saturday’s performance marked the seventh time in 2010 he had completed at least 65 percent of his attempts — only once all season has Mallett hit on less than 60 percent of his attempts. For a quarterback with his type of arm, this added accuracy only makes Mallett all the more dangerous.
Week 12 at Mississippi State, Saturday
8. QB Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State (Last week: No. 7)
Week 11 W 38-14 vs. Penn State (8 of 13 for 139 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 9 carries for 49 yards)
Year to date 161 of 238 for 2136 yards, 22 TD, 8 INT; 93 carries for 512 yards, 4 TD
It’s not going to happen for Pryor in 2010: his numbers are very good, though not great, and his Buckeyes — barring an absolute miracle — won’t be playing for the national title. In fact, Pryor has been fairly average for weeks, if held against his torrid first month. He’s thrown at least one interception in four straight games, though he has remained efficient with the football, and hasn’t rushed for more than 56 yards since the first weekend of October. Injuries have surely played a role in the latter category, but Pryor’s numbers don’t stand up to the handful of quarterbacks running ahead of him in the Heisman race.
Week 12 at Iowa, Saturday
9. WR Alshon Jeffery, S. Carolina (Last week: No. –)
Week 11 W 36-14 at Florida (6 receptions for 53 yards)
Year to date 65 receptions for 1087 yards, 7 TD
I think one player from South Carolina deserves to be mentioned: U.S.C. is having its finest season in decades — if not ever, all things considered. Marcus Lattimore, the freshman running back, has been here before. He spent two weeks on this list in the early season before his slow start to SEC play. He’s been terrific, but a tad inconsistent; he did rush for 212 yards in the biggest win in program history, but it was only his third 100-yard rushing game of the season. The skill player most worthy of acclaim is Jeffery, who has been terrific: take note that his six-reception, 53-yard showing against Florida was his weakest statistical performance of the season. He’s been terrific, nearly unstoppable, in fact, and will be a fixture in the Heisman race in 2011.
Week 12 vs. Troy, Saturday
10. QB Dan Persa, Northwestern (Last week: No. –)
Week 11 W 21-17 vs. Iowa (32 of 43 for 318 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 18 carries for 50 yards, 1 TD)
Year to date 222 of 302 for 2581 yards, 15 TD, 4 INT; 164 carries for 519 yards, 9 TD
This final spot has always been reserved for a wild card. Persa certainly fits that bill: his season is over following an Achilles injury suffered in Northwestern’s win over Iowa, so Persa’s inclusion will last only a week. What he does the rest of the year doesn’t matter, however. All that matters is what he’s done for Northwestern through 10 games: carry an otherwise bumbling offense on his back, helping N.U. land a 7-3 mark with two games to go in the regular season. On his final play of the season, Persa found Demetrius Fields for the game-winning touchdown. It was a Heisman moment, albeit merely for a fringe Heisman contender for a team battling for the outskirts of the Top 25. Nevertheless, Persa’s deserved a spot on this list for one week.
Week 12 vs. Illinois (in Chicago), Saturday
QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor (Last week: No. 8 )
RB John Clay, Wisconsin (Last week: No. 9)
Week 11 list Cam Newton, No. 1
Week 10 list Cam Newton, No. 1
Week 9 list Cam Newton, No. 1
Week 8 list Kellen Moore, No. 1
Week 7 list Kellen Moore, No. 1
Week 6 list Denard Robinson, No. 1
Week 5 list Kellen Moore, No. 1
Week 4 list Kellen Moore, No. 1
Week 3 list Kellen Moore, No. 1
Week 2 list Kellen Moore, No. 1
Preseason list Kellen Moore, No. 1
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Tags: Alshon Jeffery, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Dan Persa, Justin Blackmon, Kellen Moore, LaMichael James, Ryan Mallett, Terrelle Pryor, The Heisman Trophy
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