bill-swift - December 5, 2012
With the regular season done (with the exception of the Army/Navy game), the Bowl game schedule set and teams getting ready to play, there is just one thing left to do to bring the 2012 regular season to a close: the awards need to be handed out.
A number of position specific awards are handed out, but the main one can technically go to anyone even though a quarterback or running back are the most common winners. I'm talking about the Heisman Trophy of course.
On Monday the three finalists for the award were announced and none of the names came as a surprise.
There was Manti Te'o, a senior linebacker from Notre Dame and the leader of the Fighting Irish defense. His story is one that could easily be the subject of a Disney movie. Early in the season he lost his girlfriend to leukemia and his grandmother within a day of each other. No one would have questioned him for skipping the next game (against Michigan), but he promised that he would play.
And play he did. Te'o led the way with eight tackles and two interceptions as the Irish beat Michigan 13-6.
Collin Klein, the senior quarterback from Kansas State, led the pack for most of the season as he guided the Wildcats to a No. 1 ranking in the BCS. A disaster of a game against the lowly Baylor Bears defense saw K-State drop from the No. 1 slot and him from the top of the Heisman leader board.
It sure didn't help Klein's case that his disaster of a game came the weekend after Johnny Manziel, the red shirt freshman from Texas A&M, and the third finalist, had a dominant game against the best defense in the nation, Alabama. When Klein flopped the following week against Baylor, Manziel had 367 total yards and five touchdowns; good enough to take over the lead.
This has to be one of the toughest votes in recent history. Voters are typically not prone to voting for freshman, but the numbers that Manziel has put up are hard to deny. Leading the Aggies to a 10-2 record, top 10 ranking, and a trip to the Cotton Bowl doesn't hurt either.
Manti Te'o has the story that movies are made out of, but it is hard to judge how much of a contribution a defensive player really made; likely the reason why there has never been a pure defensive player that has won the Heisman.
Colin Klein did everything right, but unfortunately his one bad game just happened to be against the worst defense in the NCAA.
ESPN's expert's poll has Manziel in the lead with 69 points and 11 first place voted with Te'o a close second with 57 points and four first place votes. Colin Klein is a not too-distant third with 42 points (no first place votes).
All three are worthy, but only one can win. Who's your pick?