The “most outstanding football player” in the college ranks happens to play defense

Posted: 12/08/2012 in college football
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Looks like Johnny Manziel is en route to winning the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night.

I don’t have a major problem with the redshirt freshman quarterback from Texas A&M winning the award. “Johnny Football” came out of nowhere to have a spectacular season and his big-time performance when the Aggies upset then-No. 1 Alabama was certainly impressive.

Yet I can’t help but think that if Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o can’t win the award this year as the leader of the nation’s top-ranked team, then it is time to quit saying the Heisman goes to the “most outstanding football player.”

If a defensive player from an unbeaten Notre Dame team can’t win the Heisman – with all the hype around that school – then what defensive standout can?

Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997 is the only defensive player to ever win the award and the star cornerback’s candidacy was helped by his return abilities and the fact he occasionally played on offense.

Notre Dame is only in the national title game this season due to its strong defensive play in an era when offensive football theatrics have turned scoreboards into pinball machines. And Te’o has been outstanding all year as the prime reason for why the Fighting Irish lead the nation in scoring defense (10.3 points per game) and rank sixth in total defense (286.8).

Did I mention Te’o has seven interceptions? Only Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas has more with eight.

Wait, a linebacker recorded the interception total of a defensive back while playing for an unbeaten team that nobody can run against?

Should be Te’o winning by a landslide over Manziel and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, the latter being well-deserving of a third-place finish.

Yet the ceremonies will probably conclude with Manziel taking home the hardware. Again, I have nothing bad to say about Manziel’s season. It was spectacular and he would squash the stigma that a freshman can’t win the award.

But if Te’o doesn’t win the award and joins Pittsburgh’s Hugh Green (second in 1980) and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh (fourth in 2009) as famous Heisman snubs, then please change the description of the award to a more accurate portrayal:

As in “most outstanding offensive player.”


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