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by Wayne Root - 11/29/2012
There's one week to go in the Heisman race to the NY Downtown Club. But first, let's review the past year.
The Heisman was initially Matt Barkley's to win or lose, as he returned to play at USC for one more year. The Trojans were the #1 ranked team in the country at that time and everything was roses before the Rose Bowl with 5 months to come. Today, The Trojans are not even in the Top 25 and Barkley's Heisman failed to float.
Then came Geno Smith, the exciting QB from West Virginia. He threw about 25 touchdowns the first 5 weeks without an interception. And then in the middle of Big 12 conference play, his Mountaineers could not win a game and he was to never be talked about again. A flash in the pan....one and done! Over and out!!
The next QB to inherit the most sought after trophy In College Football was Collin Klein. About that same time, in order to have a "race", Braxton Miller of Ohio St was mentioned as a great QB for the undefeated Buckeyes. But since Ohio St was on probation, his name lost its luster. He was just being used by the media anyway- so they would have a race to report, to keep their ratings up. But Kansas St had to play Baylor and got trashed and destroyed. We can't have our Heisman Winner embarrass us, so Klein was moved to the sidelines, holding his helmet at his side.
And low and behold, a "Knight in Shining Crimson and White" from Texas A&M, QB Johnny Manziel went to the hallowed grounds of a sleeping Bear Bryant and woke him up. Before the Tide had swallowed their grits, the score was 20-0 and the phones to the Downtown Athletic Club in NYC were ringing off the hook. And this guy had a story. He was a redshirt....and a freshman and he had a cool nickname. "Johnny Football." He was dubbed the next great Heisman Football Winner with his 43 touchdown passes and 4600 yards of total offense. But his team has hung up their cleats for 5 weeks.
So where does this leave us? It leaves us exactly where it should. Let's rid ourselves of Matt Barkley and Geno Smith. No problem with that. Baylor crushed Collin Klein's chances, unless he throws for 6 TD's and runs for 150 yards this week against Texas. And, don't hate me yet, but let's not give it to the redshirt freshman. He was on no one's list in August, September and October. Yes, he's a fine QB and a win at Alabama is a once in a lifetime achievement. But he's only made headlines with that one win and a cool nickname. The Aggies only played three really good football teams and lost to two of them. He did not take his team to the BCS, a conference title, or a 1 loss season. Make him comeback next year and earn it as "THE MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER IN THE COUNTRY." The Heisman also looks for young men that exhibit the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Just five short months ago he was arrested, yes he may have been trying to stop a fight, but he did lie to the police and have three fake id's in his wallet.
Isn't this the award is for the best player in college football? Not the best offensive player in college football. That being said Manti Te'o of the undefeated Fighting Irish, ranked number one in the country, should win this award. If he does not win this award, they need to change this award from best player in country to best offensive player in country. The reason ND is 12-0 is because their defense is great and has been led by Manti Teo for 12 games. The Heisman should be all about LEADERSHIP. That's the most important quality in college football...or anywhere else.
Manti Te'o and his Notre Dame team was not even in the discussion as a top ranked team to begin the season. But no matter, throughout the season, without fail, he has led by example. He is the captain of the defense and has the ability to alter plays, communicate assignments, and lead by example. The team's accomplishments are an indicator of his effective leadership. Further, a team defense is strong when each member plays in a disciplined manner. Te'o leads by example, sticks to his assignments and puts the team first. His stats are impressive: (103 tackles, 52 solo, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 7 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries), but more importantly, he's the heart and soul of a team that is still in the running to win the national Championship (against all odds). For that and his consistency, Manti Te'o probably won't win it, but certainly deserves to be the last man standing at the famous dinner in New York City, cherishing a dream season and a revered trophy.