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Alabama, Texas A&M and the Heisman

Alabama Facing Manziel Football AP

Beyond all the national implications of Saturday’s huge Alabama-Texas A&M showdown, there is the matter of how it will affect the race for this year’s Heisman Trophy.

Last season’s 29-24 upset win by the Aggies over the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa helped propel Johnny Manziel to an improbable Heisman. His 4,600 yards of total offense and 43 touchdowns was remarkable, but his performance against Alabama assured he would become the first freshman to take home the trophy.

Almost one year later, the situation has changed. Manziel is well-established as the premier player in college football, but the obstacles in place between him and another Heisman are many.

It’s no coincidence that there’s only been one two-time Heisman winner, Ohio State running back Archie Griffin, who captured the trophy in 1974 and 1975. But almost 40 years of perspective hints to us that Griffin’s repeat was probably a matter of happenstance, a case of the Heisman electorate temporarily falling asleep at the wheel

Think of some of the amazing players who had a chance to pull it off but couldn’t: Doc Blanchard of Army, Doak Walker of SMU, Roger Staubach of Navy, Billy Sims of Oklahoma, Ty Detmer of BYU, Matt Leinart of USC and Tim Tebow of Florida.  The failure of these players to win that second trophy raised the bar for future players attempting a shot at it. After all, the next player to match Griffin’s feat will have to be put on the short list of all-time college football legends, right? The Heisman electorate went against normal convention and selected a freshman last time around.  Casually doling out two Heismans is another story.

Add to that the matter of Manziel’s off-season, off-field antics, and the chances of him repeating are remote.

But if Manziel is going to be the one to defy history and take his place in that pantheon of all-time greats, it all starts with what he does on Saturday. A prolific performances against the Tide would give him plenty of momentum in the race and probably assure that he at least gets a return invite to New York as a Heisman finalist.

Playing poorly in a loss to Alabama means his Heisman hopes will be officially vanquished. He’ll have to be satisfied with his one trophy.

But Manziel isn’t the only Heisman candidate in this game. There’s also A.J. McCarron, the Tide’s senior quarterback. He led the nation in passing efficiency last season while guiding his team to its second-straight national title. While he’s off to a slow start so far, he has a chance to do what no other quarterback has ever done — win three straight titles. If he plays well in leading Bama to a victory over the Aggies, he’ll be in the Heisman conversation and have a chance to get to New York if he finishes the season strong. But if Alabama loses, you can probably kiss his Heisman hopes goodbye.

When these two teams last met, the Heisman race was a mess and waiting for a player to take control. Manziel did that. But this season they meet in the early stages of the race, with several strong contenders still vying for the trophy. It’s unlikely that the outcome of this game will have the same positive impact it had last year, unless we see another legendary performance take place.

Knowing Manziel and McCarron, it could happen.

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9 Responses to “Alabama, Texas A&M and the Heisman”
  1. h0c2000 says: Sep 13, 2013 6:01 PM

    Only one Heisman candidate in this game has a vote for the Heisman.

  2. thekatman says: Sep 13, 2013 6:19 PM

    If Manziel is allowed to wear a helmet cam during the game, he should be immediately benched, and the NCAA must assess penalties against TAMU for Lack of Institutional Control.

    Helmet cams during practice is great for the fans who view fan based website for practices, but not for the games. The only entity that benefits from this is the TV network. This is a clear case of a student athlete not being one, and clearly a violation of NCAA amateur status. In essence Manziel becomes a cameraman for the TV network.

  3. barnesaintnoble says: Sep 13, 2013 6:22 PM

    If Manziel has a good season, but not a Heisman finalist worthy season, it will tell a lot about his character to see if he votes for himself or not. That will tell a lot more than anything the media has blown completely out of proportions about him.

  4. amosalanzostagg says: Sep 13, 2013 6:53 PM


    CBS is dedicating a camera on Manziel the entire game, not a helmet cam. A&M has nothing to do with the decision by CBS to have a camera on Manziel. You have a problem with the dedicated camera, take it up with CBS, not A&M.

    There is no lack of institutional control since A&M is not directly in charge of the TV broadcast, CBS and the NCAA are.


  5. amosalanzostagg says: Sep 13, 2013 7:16 PM

    Personally, the game is over hyped.

    Two very good teams in an early season match up. Way to much football left to be played.

    If Manziel does a Manziel and defeats Alabama, he becomes a Heisman candidate, again. Will he win, I doubt it. Too many contenders right now.

    Bridgewater, Boyd, Miller are light years ahead of the two other finalists last year Klein and Teo, who probably wouldn’t even make the list this year if they were candidates.

    In talking with Bama and Aggie grads up here in College Station, the consensus is that A&M has already won by moving to the SEC. They are on the national stage. Even if they lose Saturday, they win. The can end the season, 11-2, play in a major bowl and Sumlin’s recruiting goes through the roof. If they only lose one game, they’ll be in the National Championship hunt.

    Game scares the dickens out of me. With the news this week on Fluker and the way that Bama played against VT, there could be cracks in the dam. That being said, the club district is already going full steam, and the RV’s already have a great deal of activity. That being said, Bama wins a close one 42-38.


  6. Deb says: Sep 13, 2013 7:19 PM

    At Alabama, we have a tradition of valuing team accomplishments over individual accomplishments such as the Heisman. I adore Mark Ingram. But the award meant more because it came during a championship season. The last thing that should be on either Manziel’s or McCarron’s mind Saturday is the Heisman. They both should be thinking about which team will win the SEC West and could have the best chance of competing for a national title.

    That said, I wouldn’t have any problem if Manziel voted for himself. Do you think political candidates go into the booth and vote for the other guy?

  7. michiganstillsucks says: Sep 13, 2013 9:55 PM

    The only tradition Alabama has is of paying paying and breaking rules. Bunch of scumbags… The entire SECheat

  8. dcroz says: Sep 13, 2013 10:08 PM

    ^^ Gotta love those bitter Big Ten fans.

    As for the Heisman, I have said on here before the only way Manziel wins again is if he has A&M heading to Pasadena and the BCS National Championship Game as SEC champs; I don’t think he’ll get it if A&M loses tomorrow but gets into a rematch game like ‘Bama-LSU two years ago. There are many voters who will not cast theirs for him simply because they believe one stiff-armed trophy in a career is enough. McCarron, meanwhile, will be in the running if he has another season like last year (30TD/3INT, led nation in passing efficiency) and has ‘Bama in line for a chance at an unprecedented three-peat. This game will not make or break anyone’s chances, but it wouldn’t hurt to do well in it.

  9. Deb says: Sep 13, 2013 10:34 PM

    @dcroz …

    We’ve had some high-character B1G fans from Michigan and Ohio State posting here the last couple of nights. That nut just sounds like a screeching cat stuck in a garbage can. Oh well … every fan base has a few 😉

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