“The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award is presented each year to the Outstanding College Football Player in the United States.”
That’s it. The only other instruction is that candidates must be students of an accredited college or university, and in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA Student-Athlete. Oh sure, you can track down the Heisman Trust mission statement and find this: “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.” When it comes time to vote, however, the very simple instructions we are given do not include the words “character” nor “integrity.” As a voter, I take solace in that. Let’s be honest -- I do not know what these young men are like away from the football field. It is not possible to make informed character decisions on each of the candidates, as I watch them play football on my TV. If the NCAA, or one of its member institutions, decides to suspend a player for misconduct, that changes things. Otherwise, who am I to sit in judgment? We are not electing a Pope, people, we are voting for the most outstanding college football player in the United States.
The Heisman is an annual award. That means only this season matters. I don’t care if a player was all-world last year, or fourth string. Only the 2013 season counts. Finally, we are splitting hairs among the very best players in the country. While I am extremely confident in my first choice, the second and third spots could have gone to any number of deserving candidates. Chances are you will disagree with my selections. I am not right, and you are not wrong. So let the debate begin…
Honorable mentions: AJ McCarron, Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater, Andre Williams, Ka’Deem Carey, Marcus Mariota, Tre Mason, Jordan Lynch, Braxton Miller, and Carlos Hyde.
A note on Jordan Lynch: He is one heck of a player, but piled up numbers against lackluster competition. Just imagine what Johnny Manziel would have done against Northern Illinois’ schedule. Now think about Lynch versus Texas A&M’s opponents. I think we’re done here.
A note on AJ McCarron: Consider this – if Alabama had beaten Auburn, McCarron might have had a puncher’s chance of winning the Heisman. Instead, a loss that ended with a bizarre special teams touchdown killed those hopes. That tells you his candidacy was more about Alabama’s team success, than McCarron’s individual prowess. Some people want to make this a Lifetime Achievement Award after his three tremendous seasons. It’s not. Good player, but not one of the top three in the country this year.
The three players on my ballot are all quarterbacks. That should not surprise you, it is the most important position in sports. They are the only players ranked among the nation’s top ten in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and passing efficiency. Each is also a threat to run.
Third place - Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
By the numbers: 270-391, 3,732 yards, 69.1%, 33 TD, 13 INT, 686 yards rushing, 8 rush TDs
National ranks: 9th in passing yards, 6th in passing TDs, 4th in passing efficiency, 6th in points responsible for. Texas A&M was the SEC’s highest-scoring offense, and 6th in the nation, at 43.6 points per game.
At his best, Manziel could easily be considered the most outstanding player in the country for a second-straight year. We often hear about the “eye test.” Manziel passed it week after week, leaving me shaking my head and asking, “How did he do that?!” Against Nick Saban’s two-time defending national champs, Johnny Football racked up 562 yards of total offense and five touchdowns. It was the second most total yards in SEC history, and he did it against one of the best defenses in the country. Manziel is the consensus First-Team All-SEC quarterback, not McCarron. There was inconsistency, however, and Manziel bears varying degrees of responsibility for the Aggies’ four losses. I talked about penalizing players who are suspended for misconduct, and Manziel was. It was only a half, and he was still the most important player on the field that day, but it is part of my overall thought process.
Second place - Bryce Petty, Baylor
By the numbers: 220-356, 3,844 yards, 61.8%, 30 TD, 2 INT, 192 yards rushing, 11 rush TDs.
National ranks: 7th in passing yards, 9th in passing TDs, 2nd in passing efficiency, 6th in points responsible for. Baylor had the #1 in scoring offense in the country, at 53.3 ppg. The Bears won a school-record 11 games, and their first Big 12 championship.
Petty is the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. He led Baylor to unprecedented heights, and that is saying something, just a couple years after fellow Bear Robert Griffin III won the Heisman. Petty is the engine that made Baylor’s up-tempo offense go. This is where some of you will scream, “He’s a product of the system!” Yep, he sure is. By the way, every football player is a product of his system. I am not going to penalize Petty for running his system at a high level, any more than I would Boston College’s Andre Williams, or Arizona St.’s Ka’Deem Carey, who ranked 1-2 in the country for most carries. Some will knock Baylor’s schedule. The reality is the Bears faced four defenses which ranked in the nation’s top 50 in both total defense and scoring defense. That is the same number the eventual winner of this award faced this season. Petty only has one loss on his resume, and it came on the road, against a very good Oklahoma St. team. In that loss, Petty threw for 359 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Auburn’s Tre Mason is the Flavor of the Month right now, and deservedly so, but for purposes of this discussion, I’ll take Petty’s season-long consistency over Mason’s late-season surge.
First place - Jameis Winston, Florida St.
By the numbers: 237-349, 3,820 yards, 67.9%, 38 TD, 10 INT, 193 yards rushing, 4 rush TDs.
National ranks: 8th in passing yards, 2nd in passing TDs, 1st in passing efficiency, 4th in points responsible for. The Seminoles had the second-highest scoring offense in the country at 53.0 ppg. FSU is 13-0, ranked #1, and will play Auburn for the National Championship.
As a voter, this is simply a question of whether you are going to penalize Winston for being the subject of a sexual assault investigation. As the vote totals will reveal, there is little question he is the most outstanding college football player in the country this year. Winston led the Seminoles to an undefeated regular season, and a spot in the National Championship game. He is the ACC Player of the Year. If you are into so-called “Heisman moments,” Winston has a highlight reel full of them. His patience, poise, and leadership ability are uncommon for a redshirt freshman. There is no doubt Winston has outstanding weapons at his disposal, but didn’t first-round NFL draft pick EJ Manuel have most of them last year? You can question FSU’s strength of schedule, but not the results. The Seminoles led the nation in margin of victory, winning by an average – an average! – of 42.3 ppg.
The United States of America has the best judicial system in the world. It is far from perfect, but it is the best. Jameis Winston was not arrested, nor charged with a crime. He was not suspended by Florida State at any time. I am not paid to collect evidence, nor interview suspects. All I can do is trust the decisions made by those in law enforcement. Mistakes are sometimes made, and perhaps they were in this case. Unfortunately, I don’t know and neither do you. What I do know is this: Winston was a student of an accredited university, and in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA Student-Athlete.
Some of my fellow Heisman voters will choose to play the role of morality police, and penalize Winston. I would love to know what evidence they have, that the police and Tallahassee State Attorney’s office didn’t. They will pass judgment because of an accusation, while assuming from the comfort of their couches that other candidates are of high moral fiber, as they individually define what that is. I find this irresponsible.
So there it is, my 2013 Heisman Trophy Ballot – Winston, Petty, Manziel. It was a season unlike any other. For Jameis Winston, it must have been surreal.
Note: Joe Girvan has been a Heisman voter since 2002.
From ESPN Press Release
ESPN Regional Television, a subsidiary of ESPN, announced the creation of the Boca Raton Bowl in a six-year agreement beginning in 2014. The pre-Christmas bowl game will be affiliated with the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference with each conference participating an expected four times during the six-year span.
The bowl game will be played at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla., on the campus of Florida Atlantic University and nationally televised on ESPN or ESPN2. The open-air stadium opened in 2011 and seats just under 30,000 fans.
The local sales of the bowl game will be handled by ESPN West Palm, which is the FAU radio broadcast partner.
From Palm Beach Sports Commission
Looking to become just the second repeat winner in Groza history, Tulane senior Cairo Santos headlines the thirty-player Watch List for the 2013 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, as announced by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
Santos won the 2012 Groza with the first 21-for-21 field goal season in FBS history. If he defends his title, he would join former Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski (1998 & 1999) as the only players to win multiple Grozas. In addition to last year’s winner, 10 other semifinalists from last season return, including San Jose State sophomore Austin Lopez, whose 17-for-17 season made him the only other kicker to stay perfect on field goals with at least one attempt per game.
Coming just short of perfection, all eight returning kickers who attempted at least 10 field goals and connected on better than 85% make the Watch List: Northwestern senior Jeff Budzien (95%), Clemson senior Chandler Catanzaro (94.7%), Eastern Michigan sophomore Dylan Mulder (90.9%), Boston College senior Nate Freese (90%), Colorado State junior Jared Roberts (90%), Michigan senior Brendan Gibbons, a Cardinal Newman grad (88.9%), Oregon State junior Trevor Romaine (88.9%) and Duke sophomore Ross Martin (87%).
Moving from accuracy to volume, all eight returning kickers who converted at least 20 field goals were also part of the Watch List: Toledo junior Jeremiah Detmer (24), Rice senior Chris Boswell (23), Notre Dame junior Kyle Brindza (23), TCU sophomore Jaden Oberkrom (22), Santos (21), Virginia Tech senior Cody Journell (20), Martin (20), and Vanderbilt senior Carey Spear (20).
Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2012 season and 2013 expectations. Ten conferences are represented among the 30 kickers, led by four each from the ACC, Big Ten, Conference USA and the MAC, while the Mountain West placed three representatives. The American, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and the Sun Belt each had two kickers recognized, along with independent Notre Dame. While the Watch List highlights thirty of the best returning kickers in the country, Santos, who was not on the 2012 Watch List, stands as proof that the Groza Committee will be watching all FBS kickers during the season, and releasing a weekly “Stars of the Week” feature on www.lougrozaaward.com.
Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award will announce its 20 semifinalists on Monday, November 4th. From this list, a panel of more than 300 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members, and former winners selects the top three finalists for the award by Monday, November 25th. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Thursday, December 12th during the Home Depot College Football Awards, broadcast live from Orlando, Fla.
From ESPN 106.3 Staff and Northwood Media Relations
This past season, Tyrone Davis was an NAIA All-American at Northwood University (West Palm Beach, Fla). This season, Davis will be a Harlem Globetrotter.
The point guard was one of five athletes selected in the seventh annual Harlem Globetrotters player draft.
The 5-2 guard from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla, led the nation in assists (7.86 per game), and also led the Seahawks – where he played for legendary coach Rollie Massimino – with 2.3 steals a game, earning a spot on the Sun Conference All-Defensive Team to follow up his 2011-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year campaign. Davis set the school record for career assists and steals before he even entered his senior season, a season in which he helped lead Northwood to a 30-4 record.