This is largely anticlimactic since, you know, the Heisman Trophy ceremony was last night. I’m sure the secrecy of the ballots certainly put in doubt Jameis Winston‘s victory, what was the seventh largest margin in the award’s history.
Still, I always feel an obligation to justify my vote. Being a voter is a responsibility to the sport, in my opinion, so I’ll always make my vote public just to keep things honest.
You might care. You might not. And I’ll get back to Virginia Tech stuff on Monday, but here’s who I voted for and why, and perhaps more importantly this year, who I didn’t vote for and why:
1. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State: The best player on the best team, and the best quarterback in the country to boot. It is a football award, after all. And while there is a vague mention of “integrity” in the Heisman voting procedures, it’s loosely defined (or more accurately, not defined at all). I’m not going to say Winston is a saint. I think the police reports from a year ago suggest otherwise. But I’m not going to say he’s a criminal either, particularly when the legal system didn’t bring charges. I’m not a criminologist or a moralist. I’m a sportswriter. And absent something more concrete from a criminal investigation, I wasn’t going to consider it as a factor in my vote.
2. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor: Threw 30 touchdowns and only two interceptions, the second-most efficient quarterback in the country on a Bears team that won 11 games for the first time and took their first outright league title since 1980. I’ll hear a lot of people say he’s a “system quarterback.” I hate that phrase. Everybody plays in a system. The good ones make the system work for them. And Petty did just that, as well or better than many of the other quarterbacks in the country.
3. RB Andre Williams, Boston College: The last major conference running back to top 2,000 yards in a season was Rutgers’ Ray Rice in 2007. Williams was the biggest reason BC went from two wins to seven. I won’t lie: having seen him in person run for 166 against Virginia Tech probably factored into my decision.
This was a year when I honestly could have made an argument for about 10 guys to go in those Nos. 2 and 3 spots. Alas, you have to whittle the list to a top three, so I had to leave these guys out. Here’s who I did not vote for and why, close to the order that they would have appeared on my ballot:
– RB Tre Mason, Auburn: An undeniably great finish to the year, but his numbers weren’t quite as good as Williams’. (And spare me the “he did it in the SEC!” argument, since outside of Alabama, the league decided to stop playing defense this year.) But I was torn about who the true MVP of that Auburn team was: Mason or quarterback Nick Marshall.
– QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M: Even better passing numbers than last year (3,732 yards, 33 TDs), but some late-season struggles probably dropped him a few notches on what was a tight ballot.
– QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon: I really liked his efficiency as a quarterback, but Petty kind of out-Mariota’d him by the end of the year.
– QB Nick Marshall, Auburn: Same thing with Mason: I don’t know who was more valuable. I think Marshall made a world of difference for the Tigers, even though his stats don’t stack up to the other quarterbacks on this list.
– QB AJ McCarron, Alabama: I get that he’s a great college quarterback. But I think the real best player on the Tide is probably linebacker C.J. Mosley.
– QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville; QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois; QB Derek Carr, Fresno State: It’s the same argument for all three: when you play a not-so-great schedule, there’s no margin for error. I hate to tie this award to team accomplishments, but for guys that don’t play a tough schedule, that’s a factor (although certainly Bridgewater’s was a little tougher than the other two).