Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Competion Got Stiffed!

This is kind of a late post on the subject but with finals and all I've been slow to really consider what happened in New York on Saturday night. The 75th year that the Heisman Trophy was presented to the most outstanding player in the country we experienced two things, one was the closest vote in NCAA history and the other was that one game meant more to voters than two outstanding years and for that matter, two outstanding careers.
Mark Ingram became the 75th winner, third straight sophomore, only the second running back this decade and the first winner from Alabama ever. I first off want to congratulate Ingram because he did have a great year this year and he put up a fight with Tebow for the most humble acceptance speech in recent memory. However, as you can guess from my title, I think that Ingram didn't deserve this prestigious award, the voters not only royally stiffed one but two much more deserving candidates. Let's first start off by stating why I don't think Ingram deserved the award in the first place. My biggest reason is that he was awarded for being the best player in the country when I'm not even sure he is the best player on that team. He is clearly the best offensive player on that team, and that is all America seems to care about, but if you take your eyes off the offense and look down that defense that is on the sidelines, while Ingram is performing in the spotlight, you see the best defense in the country led by All-Americans Terrence Cody and Rolando McClain and several other future NFL players. Obviously McClain and Cody didn't put up the numbers that Ingram did but if you have followed Alabama at all it was their defense that got them to the National Championship game. I feel that Ingram won mainly because of his outstanding performance in the SEC Championship game but would Alabama even be there if it wasn't for Terrence Cody? How quickly we forget the Tennessee game in which Ingram had a decent game but had a crucial fumble in the game and it was only thanks to Terrence Cody's heroics on the blocked FG that kept the Crimson Tide's perfect season in tact. I know that is just one game that I'm talking about but that is my point, kudos for Ingram for performing on the biggest stage of his career but still it is just one game.
Now we can get to the players who did deserve the Heisman, Colt McCoy and Toby Gerhart. If I personally had a vote I would give it to McCoy, but admittedly he is my favorite college player and I am basing this off of more than just this year. Let's bring up McCoy's numbers just from this year (I will get to Ingram's numbers shortly, I didn't forget to put them up): 147.46 QB Rating, 3,512 Passing Yards, 27 TD Passes and an astonishing completion percentage of 70.5%. His numbers are extremely good once again, his running took a pretty big dip this year but he was still effective as always and usually played his best football in the 4th quarter. There were two things that really hindered his Heisman chances, the first was obviously his final game against Nebraska (I will be coming back to this) and the other was that his numbers were better last year, the year that he really got screwed. There is really no way to explain McCoy's dip in production but he simply got the job done this year, not in style (which is the most overrated quality in voting for anything in College Football) but efficiently and effectively. There is however room to talk about his final game. It is easy to simply go turn on ESPN and watch the highlights from the game and see Ndamukong Suh looking like a member of the Texas team with how much he was on their side of the line, and see McCoy throw 3 interceptions and struggle to get into rhythm all game long. But from watching the whole game there were some other observations I noticed. One was that two of those interceptions weren't on McCoy at all, one was tipped by a leaping linemen and fell into the waiting arms of the Corn Huskers. The other was simply a phenomenal play by Dejon Gomes in where it actually looked like the ball was caught for a first down and then ripped away at the last second by Gomes. Another things is that McCoy didn't have time to throw all day, it wasn't just Suh slamming through the line, the entire D-line of Nebraska was breaking through the Texas line like Mrs. Tiger Woods breaking the rear windshield of their Escalade. McCoy was sacked a ridiculous nine times and was hit far more often than that. Even when McCoy got a second to pass his teammates (outside of Shipley) were dropping passes left and right. Most notably James Kirkendoll, who dropped a pass by McCoy that would have led to a sure fire 75 yard score. Think of the change in moral that would have had for a very tentative Texas team. Don't get me wrong McCoy could have played better, he missed some throws and was strangely cavalier about the final seconds of the game but I still believe that voters were very unjust to him for his final performance, particularly when his offensive teammates didn't show up to play at all. Even though this is based on a yearly performance, I think that McCoy has warranted the right for us to judge him on more than just this year. He is first all time in wins, ranks sixth in all time passing yards, fourth in passing TD's and is one of only 5 players to total over 14,000 yards of total offense in a career. There are two main achievments he has failed to get, one is the Heisman and the other is a National Title. He will get a chance to play for the latter in a few weeks after getting stiffed last year (I will still fail to understand why voters put Oklahoma in the game over a Texas team that beat them in what wasn't that close of a game and had the exact same record as they did). Even more impressively McCoy did all this while having to fill the enormous shoes left by Vince Young. My vote for Heisman, Colt McCoy
Finally we get to the final and most logical choice for Heisman, Toby Gerhart. I could persaude you that he should have won it in one simply question, here it goes. Is there any doubt in people's minds that Gerhart would be the 2009 Heisman winner if he had put up the numbers he did this season at USC? There isn't one in my mind, bigger program gets bigger media attention and USC has earned the right for high national coverage but I truly believe if Gerhart was on the Trojans he would have won the Heisman. Gerhart put up absolutely up surd numbers this season 1,736 yards, 26 TD's, 5.6 ypc, a 581.20 passer rater (one pass for an 18 yard TD), and only 1 game without a TD. He was the most consistent player all year and he only got strong as the year got longer, his last 4 games he averaged 185.5 yards per game and 3.25 TD's. He did all this with almost zero passing game, ever team that played against them game planned around him and they slowed him down about as well as Usain Bolt's flailing arms as he crossed the finish line. Teams would stack eight in the box to stop him and Stanford runs a pro style offense so there aren't any fancy spread run schemes to get him in space. Ingram also plays in a similar style offense but there are a lot more weapons on Alabama's offense that teams have to worry about and while he had great numbers they don't compare to Gerhart's. 1542 yards, 15 TD's, and 6.2 yards per carry. Great numbers but Gerhart's are clearly better and it isn't like he is playing against some slack small division schools or even those porous Big East defenses. Gerhart plays in the highly regarded PAC 10, the same conference that produced 3 of this decades other winners of the award. Gerhart has one advantage actually with his resume, all three of the other players, (Palmer, Bush and Leinhart) played for USC, Gerhart has the challenge of playing AGAINST USC. While I am very aware that the USC defense isn't the same this year it is still very fast and very talented and Gerhart ripped apart every PAC 10 defense. The only conference school he played that he didn't rush for over 100 yards against was UCLA where he managed a trifling 96 and ran for a mere 2 TD's. Quite honestly there is no good argument for choosing Ingram over Gerhart, I think I even just persuaded myself to switch my pick to Gerhart. Like I said I love Ingram's game but I just don't see how you can justify giving him the Heisman, I actually put him 4th on board for the finalists. Here is one last thought to chew on. Would Stanford be ranked and playing for a Bowl without Gerhart? Absolutely not. Would Texas be Big 12 champs and playing for a National Title without McCoy? Not a chance. How about Nebraska, you think they play for the Big 12 Championship without Suh? Definitely a no. And now think about where Alabama would be without Ingram, would they be playing for a National Championship? probably not but I can promise you that without him they probably would have still been playing for the chance too against Florida and to me that doesn't define a Heisman Trophy winner.

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