Heisman Trophy Hype: Doesn’t Robert Griffin III Deserve It?
The Heisman Trophy Class of 2011 has been selected. Frontunners Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson in addition to Robert Griffin III, Tyrann Mathieu, and Montee Ball will all be in contention for college football’s most prestigious award on Saturday night in New York City when one of them gets awarded with the trophy and joins a very elite collection of players. But, which one of them really deserves it?
Well, you could make a strong case for all five of them. Unlike in past years, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the five go home with the trophy. Luck has been the popular choice since September. He was last year’s runner-up and he returned to Stanford this fall to build on his legacy there. He’s probably going to end up being the best pro player of the five Heisman hopefuls and he’s the safest pick here for sentimental reasons alone.
Richardson is a close second in the eyes of many college football fans right now. He’s led Alabama to the national championship, shown off a ton of killer moves on the field, and become the second ‘Bama running back to be a Heisman finalist in the last three years. His teammate Mark Ingram also got nominated and won the Heisman back in 2009.
If defense is more your thing, then there’s a good chance you love Mathieu—or, as he’s known on the football field, the “Honey Badger.” The leader of LSU‘s defensive secondary, he’s more or less done a little bit of everything for the Tigers during their undefeated season this year. He’s forced five fumbles, intercepted two passes, and scored four times, including punt returns in each of LSU’s last two games.
And although he’s probably the longest shot in this crop of talent, Ball is no slocuh, either. Playing running back for Wisconsin this season, he has 12 more touchdowns than the next best player in the country. If he manages to score two more TDs in the Badgers’ final game of the season against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, he’ll break Barry Sanders‘ single-season scoring record. And he’s put up more than 135 yards per game this season playing in a pass-happy offense. Impressive.
But, for my money, I’m taking Griffin III as the true winner of this year’s Heisman Trophy. There’s been a big push this year to get behind this guy—mostly because he plays for Baylor, a team that’s typically been a bottom-dweller in the Big 12 Conference—but that’s not the only reason I think he deserves this award. Rather, Griffin has been the only guy this season that, week in and week out, I’ve wanted, even needed, to see play. The guy has been pure excitement on the field and he’s helped his team overachieve. I’ve found myself checking scores on Saturday afternoon this season simply to see how he’s holding up.
But, don’t just take my word for it. Griffin’s stats also back it up. This season, he’s led the nation in QB passer rating with a 192.3 rating overall. He’s thrown for just under 4000 yards and 36 touchdowns. His uptempo, high-flying style of offense makes it fun and exciting to watch Baylor play, especially in the Big 12 where they’ve had to fight for all the props they’ve received. And, most importantly, Baylor is 9-3 this season. It’s the first time since 1986 that the school has won nine games.
I know he doesn’t have a great chance to win the Heisman. But Griffin has been the most exciting player in the nation to me this year and the guy who his team simply couldn’t live without. For that reason—and that reason alone—I want to see him walk away with the Heisman on Saturday night. And, if he doesn’t? Well, you can’t say it was because he didn’t try. Either way, he’s walking out of this season a winner.