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Friday, December 13, 2013

Heisman: Winston Will Win, Should He?

Wild on Sports
Heisman: Winston Will Win, Should He?
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

Its all but a forgone conclusion the Jameis Winston will win the Heisman Trophy this weekend but does he represent what is right with the game or what is wrong?

The Heisman Trophy will be awarded on Saturday and in all likelihood Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will be the second freshmen in consecutive seasons to win the award. His team is the #1 ranked team in the country by every form of ranking possible. He is 8th in the country in total passing yards (3,820), 2nd in the country in touchdowns (38) and leads all of college football with a 190.1 efficiency rating. And the cherry on top:  by all accounts, he would be the consensus #1 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft if he were eligible.

Sounds like a cut and dry case, right? The best player on the best team wins the most prestigious award in the sport. If that were in fact the criteria, and in the minds of many voters it is, it would and likely will be a landslide victory. Sadly, if you actually read the criteria you may come to a different conclusion.
The outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.
Integrity. That may be a tough sell for those who have been keeping an eye on the landscape of college football the past few months. The same player whose name has been the spotlight of many highlight reals has also been the spotlight of a major legal investigation.

Now, in fairness to Winston it was announced last week that the district attorney will not charge Winston in the case for a variety of reasons that he managed to dance around. Lack of strong enough evidence is suggested as one. A complete dropping of the ball, so to speak, by the Tallahassee Police Department is suggested to be another. Now that is a whole different issue for a whole different time, but Google it and you will see what I mean. What the DA did say is that he will not be charged. What he was very careful not to say what that Winston was absolved of all guilt. The reality - he did something - we don't know exactly what - either the evidence isn't convincing (work of outside agency or otherwise) or the accuser is questionable.

I'm not sure that integrity can be associated with a man accused of rape. Granted, the key word is accused. I'm not trying to call him guilty. I don't know what happened but based on what both sides have said and what the 180+ page affidavit there is enough there to question why college football would bestow its highest honor on a man who has questionable integrity, when integrity is in fact a key component of qualification.

So if not Winston, who?

The other five candidates invited to New York City for the presentation are runningbacks Andre Williams and Tre Mason and quarterbacks Jordan Lynch, AJ McCarron and reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. At a quick glance...

Andre Williams - RB Boston College 2,102 yards rushing, 17 TDs
Tre Mason - RB #2 Auburn 1621 yards rushing, 22 TD's
AJ McCarron -  QB #3 Alabama 2,676 yards passing, 26 TDs, 5 INTs
Jordan Lynch - QB Northern Illionis 2,676 yards passing, 23 TDs, 7 INTs
Johnny Manziel - QB Texas A&M 3,732 yards passing, 33 TDs, 13 INTs

Statistically, the two that stand out are RB Andre Williams and QB Johnny Manziel.

There is no question that rushing for 2,000+ yards in today's college football is a remarkable accomplishment. Doing so for a ACC team that has not not been on the National radar since the Matt Ryan days is an accomplishment all on his own. He does not have a team surrounded by NFL bound talent like some of the other candidates. Yet, he was able to accomplish what only 15 others have ever been able to at the Division 1 level.

Integrity? In addition to his on the field accomplishments, he is a star in the classroom as well. Did we mention he is writing a novel? He is soft spoken off the field but levels a hardy boom on. In a sport that grows more pass happy by the year, to be able to accomplish what he has is worthy of serious consideration.

Can the reign champ become just the second player (Archie Griffin being the first) ever to win the award twice? Statistically, Manziel and Winston have very similar numbers:

Manziel: 3,732 yards, 33 TDs, 13 INTs
Winston: 3,820 yards, 38 TDs, 10 INTs

While the numbers are very similar, the way they got there are very different. Outside of A&M receiver Mike Evans there really isn't a whole lot to be excited about in terms of a supporting cast. He does not have multiple options to check down to, he does not have a defense that can keep teams under 30, let alone 40 most games. He doesn't play for the #1 team in the country, but in terms of outstanding performances that scream of excellence you will be hard pressed to find a player in a game better than what he did against #1 (at the time, now #3) Alabama. Give him the defense Winston has at Florida State and he wins that game. What about the performance against #2 Auburn? Give him the defense Winston has at Florida State and they win that game as well. Heck, he might have won that game on his own had he not been injured late in the game.

Wins over 2 of the top three teams in the country? That may open a few more eyes. Granted, he did not win those games. Voters will hold that against him. Is he playing for the #1 team in the country? No. Is he the most spectacular player in the game? It may be hard to find someone else who is.

Now, when it comes to integrity Manziel has a question mark of his own. There was an NCAA investigation launched against him to probe whether he accepted money in exchange for an off-season autograph session. While they did not suspend him games it was against NCAA rules if found guilty. Like Winston, nothing conclusive.

So who gets our vote? Our ballot would read:
1. Andre Williams, RB Boston College
2. Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M
3. Jameis Winston, QB Florida St.

Sadly, our vote does not matter.

When the lights go on New York City Saturday night it will be Winston on stage holding the trophy. But in our eyes he is the wrong man and represents what has been wrong with the high profile sports world for years now.

Who would you vote for?


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