Dec 8, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Texas A
The Heisman trophy presentation came and went without too much excitement last night. The presumptive favorite for the award, Johnny Manziel walked away with the award as the first freshman in history to win the honor.
Manziel winning the award did not come as a shock to anyone who watches college football. He basically won the award nearly a month ago when he led Texas A&M to a victory over #1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. That game, paired with Colin Klein’s stuggles down the stretch, propelled Manziel to the win.
Some thought Manti Te’o deserved the award, but anyone who actually understands how the Heisman works could tell you that voters were likely to name Te’o as their #2, but would never see a pure defensive player win the award. The only defensive player to win the award, Charles Woodson, had 8 interceptions as well as 6 all-purpose touchdowns. Te’o scored 0 points, rendering his candidacy dead in the water.
The other sad commentary of the Heisman trophy is that if a player does not come from a traditional power, he is unlikely to gain much traction in the voting. West Virginia University, as far as national perception goes, is not a traditional power. Much of the Mountaineers success has been centralized to the mid-50s, late-80s, and the past decade.
WVU’s lack of national perception cost Tavon Austin in the Heisman voting. Austin was easily the best all-purpose player in the nation (as indicated by his Paul Hornung finalist status). He was able to make plays in multiple facets of the game and was a threat to score on any touch. No game exemplified this more than his performance against Oklahoma, in which Austin carved up the Sooners for 572 all-purpose yards and 2 touchdowns.
Voters, for the most part, appear to have overlooked Austin’s amazing skill for the most part. He finished 8th in the final Heisman voting, finishing behind some players of lesser abilities.
The final vote for Heisman ended (*invited to New York for award ceremony):
- Johnney Manziel, Texas A&M *
- Manti Te’o, Notre Dame*
- Colin Klein, Kansas State*
- Marqise Lee, Southen California
- Braxton Miller, Ohio State
- Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
- Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
- Tavon Austin, West Virginia
- Kenjon Barner, Oregon
- Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Looking at the list of player ahead of them, you cannot help but question Jordan Lynch beating out Austin. Seriously, no one new who Jordan Lynch was on a national level until NIU won the right to play in the Orange Bowl. It is clear that the voters were easily swayed by one televised performance against fellow MAC school Kent State.
Nov 23, 2012; Ames, Iowa, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers running back Tavon Austin (1) rushes down field against the Iowa State Cyclones during the first half at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Austin tears up the Sooner for the second best performance in FBS history, but Lynch tore up the Golden Flashes (how many of you actually knew Kent States nickname before this sentence?) and that is more Heisman worthy?
Some of the other players that Austin should have received higher recognition than include Jadeveon Clowney (great season, but a one dimensional pass rusher) and Braxton Miller (gets a lot of love for the undefeated season and his dual threat nature). Tavon, at least in my opinion, had a more dynamic season than both Clowney and Miller as he scored 17 times in 4 different ways while setting school records in kickoff returns, punt returns, rushing, and receiving.
It seems like a toss up between Marqise Lee and Austin for the 4th spot in the voting, so I have no real heartburn with Lee being ahead of Austin on the final ballot.
Ultimately, playing at West Virginia, a school many balloters look down at, as well as playing along side Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey (two players who were Heisman and Biletnikoff mentions) must have taken some of the voting away from Tavon Austin. Had WVU put together a few more wins, Austin’s stellar season would have been harder for the national media to ignore.
It is a shame that Austin did not at least earn an invite to New York for the award ceremony. Can’t really dispute Manziel winning the award, but Austin deserved more recognition than 8th place.