With the college football regular season now over, and with the Heisman finalists already named, it is of course time for everybody to weigh in with their opinion. I have no problem whatsoever with the five finalists, who are Stanford RB Toby Gerhart, Alabama RB Mark Ingram, Texas QB Colt McCoy, Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh, and Florida QB/All Things to All People Tim Tebow. Additionally, had Clemson RB C.J. Spiller, Boise State QB Kellen Moore, or Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli (plus a few others even) made the top five, I would have had no complaints. It was a deep talent pool this year.
However, while there may be a lot of really good candidates, there wasn’t one player that really stuck out. When I personally am looking to pick somebody for an MVP award (which is what this is) I never look at team performance, as that is irrelevant to a player’s personal performance. As such, the fact Alabama and Texas went undefeated while Stanford and Nebraska lost four games doesn’t factor into my choice at all. Additionally, I try to look at the season as a whole, rather than adding extra weight to the later games. Then, it really becomes a matter of weighing numbers versus opponent strength, which is a bigger issue in college sports than in the pros.
For me, it comes down to Gerhart and Ingram. Suh had a great year and deserved his top five finish (and I really hope to see him in a Lions jersey next season) but he wasn’t quite dominant enough on defense to get my vote. McCoy and Tebow were two of the early favorites, but neither really lived up to the hype this season, especially Tebow. McCoy probably cost himself the award with his Big 12 Championship performance with the voters, and certainly that didn’t sit well with me either. So, in the end, it comes down to two running backs.
Gerhart was the epitome of a workhorse this season. He led all of the FBS in carries, yards, and touchdowns. Additionally, the Pac-10 was probably the second best conference this season, so his competition was certainly plenty good. Ingram, meanwhile, had slightly less impressive numbers, but he was still very good. He finished fifth in rushing yards, but only had 15 rushing touchdowns, 11 less than Gerhart. However, he was a bigger contributor to the passing game, with 30 receptions and three receiving touchdowns. He also had a better YPC average than Gerhart. However, his biggest plus is the fact he played in the SEC, and also had Virginia Tech on his schedule.
Ingram had a few huge games this season, including against Va Tech, South Carolina, and Florida, who had one of the best defenses in the nation. However, he also has that Auburn game on his resume, in which he ran 16 times for 30 yards. Gerhart’s worst game, meanwhile, was 17 carries for 82 yards.
This is really close in my opinion, but in the end I’d give my vote to Gerhart. My hypothetical ballot would look like this:
In actuality, I think Ingram ends up taking it. I’m sure plenty of voters factored Alabama’s undefeated record into the equation and were so enthralled with his great game against the Gators they forgot all about the Iron Bowl. He had a fine season, however, so I wouldn’t be too irked by it if it does happen.
Now, what does your imaginary Heisman ballot look like?