When I first saw the list of Heisman Trophy finalists, my first thought was, “This is the laziest Heisman vote of all-time.”
Four quarterbacks. Georgia’s Stetson Bennett, TCU’s Max Duggan, USC’s Caleb Williams and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.
Tennessee fans have gone nuts because they think yet ANOTHER quarterback, Hendon Hooker, should not only be on the list, but the winner. (They still haven’t gotten over Michigan’s Charles Woodson winning over their Peyton Manning in 1997, which…) Texas fans can’t believe running back Bijan Robinson, the anointed next-Saquon Barkley, isn’t going to the ceremonies in New York.
I just sighed because once again there seemed to be little research put into the voting. And, to some degree, I’m correct. So many voters simply scroll down a list of players pushed by the networks.
I’ll admit the other day, while watching TCU in the Big 12 title game, I tweeted out “Max Duggan for Heisman.” Because he pushed himself to exhaustion trying to will his team to victory.
But before landing at Wheelhouse Creative, I used to take my Heisman voting duties seriously. I not only took in moments like that, but data. I looked high and low for data.
NCAA statistics, of course, are readily available these days with a few strokes of the keyboard. Just decide which stats you most value. Decide if you place a higher value on Power 5 conference players. As an offshoot of that, do you give extra credit to players from the more highly regarded SEC and Big Ten conferences? If so, how much?
One should determine all these before crunching data and voting. (Remember too this is not an NFL draft projection. It’s supposed to be an earned award.) Figure out where you can best go for information regarding offensive and defensive linemen. All-conference teams selected by coaches? The PFF College website, which tries to grade each player?
I caution, though, that sometimes the above clash. I saw that College Football Network’s player of the year was Michigan center Olusegun Oluliatimi. Cool, huh? My kind of pick. Yet he had to share all-Big Ten first-team honors and wasn’t the league’s offensive line POY, according to the coaches.
Also, I realize stats aren’t everything. I love me some Max Duggan, especially after the performance the other day. But voters are cheating sports fans if stats aren’t at least a base. And, again, choose the stats wisely. For instance, I’m more of a passing completion percentage guy than a passing yards per game guy. Hello, Oregon’s Bo Nix at 71.5 percent! Hello, UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson at 69.8! And, yes, hello UT’s Hooker at 69.6! All with at least 329 pass attempts. (Could I interest you in UTSA’s Frank Harris or Illinois’ Tommy DeVito?)
Perhaps more than pass completion percentage, I like pass efficiency. There we see Ohio State’s Stroud and Hooker 1-2 nationally, with Nix 8 and my guy Duggan at 9.
How about the NCAA’s “points responsible for” statistic? USC’s Williams is No. 1 with 282, while Nix is tied for fourth (254), with DTR at 7, Stroud at 8 and Duggan at 9.
So, after all the number crunching of the quarterbacks? My pick would be Nix, who apparently is now taking his talents to the Senior Bowl and NFL. After that I’d go with Stroud and Williams. Hooker and DTR are slightly trailing.
But let’s look elsewhere. Last season, I wrote I’d have voted for Alabama edge Will Anderson. Turns out others did as well, and the defender followed it up with another great season.
Just not as great as USC’s Tuli Tuipulotu, who had 12 solo sacks, 21 tackles for loss and was named the Pac-12 defender of the year. Wisconsin’s Nick Herbig had 11 solo sacks. My guy Will, who was SEC defender of the year, had eight.
But back to the offensive side. Let’s look at Bijan’s case. I mean, it was a good season at 131.7 rushing yards a game for the Horns Down. But UAB’s Dewayne McBride averaged 155.7 and Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim averaged 144.9. The latter was All-Big Ten first team, both coaches and media polls.
Also, a ton of people were stumping for Michigan back Blake Corum, who carried the Wolverines to the playoffs before suffering a knee injury. While UT’s Robinson was sixth nationally in rushing, Corum was 10th. I put Corum in the Duggan category.
Receivers? The best Power 5 player was Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt at 105.6 yards a game. Purdue’s Charlie Jones led the nation with 1,361 total receiving yards and had 12 TDs.
Of those trying to defend the receivers, Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell was tops in passes defended (a great stat), just ahead of Penn State’s Kalen King. In interceptions, no one had more than seven.
In total tackles, ODU’s Jason Henderson blew away the rest of the field with 15.5 a game.
Of names I haven’t mentioned on all-conference teams (remember, let’s look at everything!), only a couple others jumped out: UNC freshman QB Drake Maye and Pitt junior defensive tackle Calijah Kancey.
So after all that?
My Heisman ballot would have read 1. Bo Nix (Oregon), 2. Tuli Tuipulotu (USC), 3. C.J. Stroud (Ohio State).
Yeah, after all that two of my three would have been quarterbacks after all.
Yet no one could ever say I didn’t research.
Enjoy your week.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.