Restricting Heisman Ceremony Candidates Not Fair To Some

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Fournette Snub Shows Process Is Flawed

By John Ventola

The Heisman Trophy finds itself losing some of its luster as the selection process criteria of the most prestigious award in collegiate athletics now seems to rely strictly on statistics, and whether the recipient is on a high ranked team.

Already the brightness of the trophy was beginning to dull because voters were too often going with the position that can put up the astonishing numbers—quarterback. In

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Heisman Trophy Now Decided By Late Season Performances

fact, thirteen of the last fifteen Heisman winners played quarterback. Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, and Cam Newton capturing the last five Heisman trophies.

Alabama’s Mark Ingram in 2009 and USC’s Reggie Bush (his trophy has been vacated because of Trojan infractions) in 2005 were able to win the award as running backs, both putting up solid rushing totals with highly ranked teams during those seasons.

Today, the Heisman Trophy often does not go to the best player in the country. While it is not as bad as when quarterbacks Gino Torretta and Jason White won the Heisman as leaders of successful Miami and Oklahoma teams in 1992 and 2003, the process is still flawed. Torretta and White weren’t even the best players on their own teams!

Flawed because national media can be swayed as much by an imaginative university sports information campaign as the actual performance by a contending player on the field. Saturday’s Heisman Trophy ceremony will only have three athletes present. All three (Derrick Henry of Alabama, Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, and Deshaun Watson of Clemson), are deserving, but the snub of the player who was the leading candidate for the Heisman the first seven weeks of the season was petty and uncalled for. Are we to believe every voter in the country voted for just those three players?

I remember five candidates sitting there for most presentations. Why not invite the player who was the talk of the early season? Why not invite the guy who still went on to average the most rushing yards per game in the nation (158.3 yards per game)? Why not invite a guy who gained a half yard per carry more than the two running backs

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Fournette Sets New Single Season LSU Rushing Record

invited (6.4 ypc Fournette, 5.9 ypc Henry, 5.8 ypc McCaffrey)? A guy who played two less games than the three invitees, games where he would have, no doubt, padded his gaudy rushing totals against a weak opponent, and an unknown? Why not invite that guy, Leonard Fournette? For that matter, why not invite TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin (31 TD passes, passed for 3,575 yards), who was running neck and neck early with Fournette before the Horned Frogs lost to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma?

Not saying Fournette and Boykin deserve the award, but they deserve to be at the Heisman Trophy award ceremony. Their statistics fell in the  games their teams lost late in the season, but lackluster performances by their teammates (no blocking at all for Fournette, no defense by Boykin’s teammates and uncharacteristic four interception game against Oklahoma State) were mainly responsible for the subpar totals. Fournette was shackled by an unimaginative, hardheaded coach, and Boykin spent too much time on the bench while his defensive mates tried unsuccessfully to stop the opposition.

Henry should run away with the trophy, the second ever Alabama winner, joining

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Henry Favorite But Watson Could Split Southern Vote

Ingram, the winner just six years ago. However, he and Watson will divide a lot of the votes from the South, creating an opening for West Coaster McCaffrey.

Florida native Henry, a junior, scored twenty-three touchdowns for Bama while rushing for 1,986 yards on 339 carries. The 6-3, 240 pounder, was the workhorse for Nick Saban’s offense, carrying the ball 90 times in his last two games against Auburn and Florida. His longest run in those games was a 30-yard jaunt, proving Saban and his offensive line should share the award.

McCaffery, a sophomore from Castle Rock, Colorado, scored only eight touchdowns rushing, but gained 1,847 yards on 319 carries. He scored four touchdowns receiving for Stanford. His 207 yard effort against USC in the Pac 12 championship game last week moved him up in the “what have you done lately” minds of sports media, and punched his ticket for New York. He ran for 243 yards against UCLA, and 206 yards against Oregon State. Apparently, the Pac-12 is trying to catch up with the Big 12 in not playing defense.

Watson, a duel threat QB from Gainesville, Georgia, has completed 287 of 413 passes for 3,512 yards and 30 touchdowns. The speedster rushed for 887 yards on 163 carries and eleven touchdowns. He was intercepted eleven times and was sacked twelve times

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Fournette And Boykin Deserve To Be At Ceremony

while working behind an entirely new starting offensive line this season. As Watson goes, so go the No. 1 ranked, unbeaten Clemson Tigers. (Boykin threw for one more touchdown and sixty more yards in one less game, making my point that an unbeaten team’s quarterback gets more credit than a team with two losses. Would Boykin be there if TCU did not lose, or only had one loss?)

Henry, McCaffrey, Watson, it should prove interesting. To this blogger, two more deserving individuals should be present Saturday night. They earned it.

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