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Unsettled Heisman race still up in the air with one week to go

Jimbo Fisher, Jameis Winston AP

This year’s Heisman race has been atypical, to say the least.

Usually at this time of the season, the identity of the winner is pretty clear. But this year’s race has been so unsettled, it’s hard to say with any certainty what’s going to happen.

Let’s recap how we got here.

The season started out with Braxton Miller of Ohio State as the front runner. He got hurt and missed three games. That elevated Marcus Mariota of Oregon to the front runner spot. He looked strong for a while, but his production tapered off a bit, along with his team, in early November (possibly due to injury). As a result, Florida State freshman Jameis Winston became the leader, but now he’s involved in a rape investigation and it’s possible that felony charges are pending as the Heisman voting deadline of Dec. 9 approaches.

The field of candidates below these three has ebbed and flowed. Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville ceased to be a serious candidate when his team lost to UCF in October. Tajh Boyd of Clemson lost his shot when his team was shellacked by Winston’s Florida State squad. Aaron Murray of Georgia fell of when injuries sapped his team’s strength. Bryce Petty of Baylor looked to have a chance but his candidacy was wounded (though perhaps not mortally) when Oklahoma State routed the Bears a couple weekends ago. The slow and steady runner in the race, AJ McCarron of Alabama, lost his prime attribute — his role as the quarterback for a team going for an unprecedented third-straight national title — when Auburn beat the Tide on Saturday. Boston College’s Andre Williams lost his chance to put an exclamation point on his superb season when he was injured against Syracuse, limiting his output against the Orange to just 29 yards. Derek Carr of Fresno State’s fabulous season was marred by his team’s late loss to San Jose State. Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois continued his remarkable run, but has failed to catch fire at the national level. And, yes, Johnny Manziel was the latest victim of Heismandment No. 9, long may it live.

The major issue hanging over the race is the investigation of Winston. Since he is unlikely to be charged before the Heisman ballots are due, voters are going to have to think long and hard about whether or not to give him the benefit of the doubt. One of the ironies of this race is that the more unsettled it becomes, the more it likely benefits Winston. After all, spurning the FSU freshman is easier to do if there is a consensus alternative to choose from. For about 30 minutes on Saturday, it looked like McCarron might emerge as that guy — and he still might — but Bama’s loss clouds that possibility. So who is that consensus alternative now?

Complicating this analysis a bit is the fact that a few games still yet to be played can sway the race one way or the other. Lynch has a chance to become college football’s first 2,000 passer/2,000 rusher if he has a huge rushing performance in the MAC title game. If he does that, he might give voters wavering over Winston a viable alternative, which may result in denying Winston the trophy (that it would then go to Lynch seems to be a long shot, but stranger things have happened).

Winston himself plays Duke in the ACC title game, affording him another chance to pad his already-considerable production. Baylor takes on Texas, which means Petty has one more shot to impress voters. And Miller will be featured in the Big Ten title game against Michigan State. While Miller won’t win the Heisman, he (and Lynch and Petty) could determine its outcome by sucking away votes that might otherwise go to other contenders.

How the regions shake out will determine the winner. We have a good idea who might win the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South and Southwest, but who will win the Far West and MidWest?

The results of this year’s voting could look very much like it did in 2001 (Eric Crouch) and 1962 (Terry Baker). In those years, the victor won by small margins with a point total in the realm of 700 points or so. As many as five contenders below them gained significant enough support to either win a region or depress the winner’s support in a region or two. In Crouch’s case, he won the Heisman despite winning just one region while the runner up, Rex Grossman, won two. We could also see a situation like 1994, when the Heisman Trust decided to invite six finalists to the awards ceremony as a result of significant strength by numerous candidates down the list. Whatever the case, I suspect at least five finalists are in the cards for this year’s ceremony.

There are several outstanding candidates to choose from in this race. As usual, the player who enough voters deem had the most outstanding season will win the trophy. Figuring out who that player will be requires an understanding of what voters look for when making their choice. However, as a Heisman voter myself, I am truly conflicted in this matter. I really have no idea what my final ballot will look like.

Anecdotal evidence suggests I am not alone in this outlook and that’s why this year’s ceremony could be the most suspenseful and dramatic of all time.

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33 Responses to “Unsettled Heisman race still up in the air with one week to go”
  1. Mr. Wright 212 says: Dec 1, 2013 6:12 PM

    Unsettled according to whom? It’s Winston’s to lose, and lose only due to this fraudulent case. Most voters don’t want to be guilty of allowing this to swing their vote. If, by some hypothetical case, he is found to be complicit and charged, then they can easily rescind it later. But the bigger injustice would be not voting for him when most people can put two and two together and smell a rat with this whole thing.

  2. becauseisaysothatswhy says: Dec 1, 2013 6:16 PM

    Winston should win it, they can always take it away if he’s ever actually charged and convicted.

    If they don’t give it to him and he’s innocent there’s no way to undo that…

    He’s earned it on the field.

  3. dkhhuey says: Dec 1, 2013 6:20 PM

    Braxton Miller scores 5 TDs on the road during The Game!!! He deserves and has earned a trip to NY!!!

  4. Deb says: Dec 1, 2013 6:21 PM

    Just saw an Auburn fan on another thread taking credit for knocking out a Heisman candidate. Seriously? Did Auburn defeat FSU when I wasn’t looking?

    Tigers fans are justified in gloating about spoiling Bama’s chance for another SEC Championship, a title berth, and a three-peat. But McCarron was never close to Winston in the straw-polling. The Heisman is Winston’s to lose–and nothing that happened yesterday has changed his odds of winning the stiff-arm trophy.

  5. chinahand11 says: Dec 1, 2013 6:37 PM

    Winston won it. I seriously doubt he will ever be charged with that crime. In some eyes this delay in deciding to address Mr. Winston after the voting smacks of an ESPN faux drama created just to .. add drama .. to the voting, give the talking heads a topic that will allow them to display their “anxious” expressions and shake their heads.

  6. thefiesty1 says: Dec 1, 2013 6:48 PM

    Give it to Winston and then have them file assault charges and arrest him as he is giving his acceptance speech.

  7. bigbuckeye76 says: Dec 1, 2013 7:43 PM

    I would say it is Winston, but the voters might be scared to give it to him

    For the record, the Heisman is a joke….the best player on the best team…not the best player.

  8. chinahand11 says: Dec 1, 2013 7:51 PM

    thefiesty1 says:
    Dec 1, 2013 6:48 PM

    Give it to Winston and then have them file assault charges and arrest him as he is giving his acceptance speech.

    That is so funny. I can see it. He’s humbly thanking his family and fighting back tears, and the cops rush the stage and Taser him right at the podium and start whaling on him with night sticks. Then the runner up runs to the podium and claims the trophy. Well, it would make a good South Park. Maybe. I don’t know.

  9. vincentbojackson says: Dec 1, 2013 9:39 PM

    Winston is the clear winner, it’s not even close. The only question is if voters decide they want to become amateur law scholars and pass judgement on a guy that is currently being accused of a crime.

    As others have pointed out, you can always take the award away if he’s ever convicted.

    Vote on what you know NOW and what you have witnessed this season, not what you speculate might happen in a possible trial that would probably take place several months from now.

    Who want’s to be the guy that denied him the award if these allegations prove false?

  10. 8to80texansblog says: Dec 1, 2013 9:40 PM

    I think that Winston has won this on the field, but it’s a sizable risk for Heisman voters whether FSU diehards like Mr Wright want to admit it or not.

    It is quite possible that votes are in on Monday and he wins and gets charged on Tuesday with rape. It would be a pretty unprecedented situation.

    Thumb me down all you want FSU fans. You know deep down… it’s a possibility.

    That said…. if I had a vote…

    1st… Winston
    2nd… Williams
    3rd… And yes… Manziel

  11. jhagman99 says: Dec 1, 2013 9:41 PM

    Jameis will win and then Patricia Carroll will hold a presser to cry about how her grand plan blew up in her muff diving face.

  12. jagtiger says: Dec 1, 2013 9:47 PM

    McCarron may not win the Heisman, but he’s the QB that will have the best NFL career!

  13. DonKellyBaby says: Dec 1, 2013 10:04 PM

    Reggie Bush????

  14. Mr. Wright 212 says: Dec 1, 2013 10:23 PM

    jhagman99 says: Dec 1, 2013 9:41 PM

    Jameis will win and then Patricia Carroll will hold a presser to cry about how her grand plan blew up in her muff diving face.
    ——————–

    I hope her client ends up facing charges, and they bring Carroll up on some Rule 11 or 12 (whichever it is, my legal studies are rusty and in the past) sanctions.

  15. Mr. Wright 212 says: Dec 1, 2013 10:24 PM

    jagtiger says: Dec 1, 2013 9:47 PM

    McCarron may not win the Heisman, but he’s the QB that will have the best NFL career!
    —————-

    Ryan Fitzpatrick 2.0.

  16. realfootballfan says: Dec 1, 2013 10:53 PM

    It’s not really up in the air. Winston has been head and shoulders the best player in college football and would be running away with this thing if not for the allegedly bogus rape accusations. I do hope somebody else wins it though because the award has always seemed like more of a curse than a blessing to me.

  17. thehawg says: Dec 1, 2013 11:36 PM

    Jordan Lynch has the best stats , I would vote for him.

  18. easywolf says: Dec 1, 2013 11:51 PM

    Please no more black qb’s…

  19. jhagman99 says: Dec 2, 2013 12:43 AM

    “Thumb me down all you want FSU fans. You know deep down… it’s a possibility.”

    You’re faced with two alternatives. Which is the biggest miscarriage of justice as it concerns the Heisman.

    Situation 1: Winston wins. The witchhunt works and Meggs decides to throw all credibility out the window, whatever he has left, and pursue another Travis Johnson case. However, lo and behold, he gets a conviction. The voters can decide to just vacate the trophy or award it to the runner up.

    Situation 2: Winston, having yet to be charged, is left off numerous ballots because idiot writers want to play morality police and turn what should be a simple vote into something bogged down by ifs and maybes and safe bets and all kinds of other BS that should NOT go into Heisman voting. Someone else is awarded the trophy. Then the very next day, Meggs announces no charges will be filed. How will writers feel then, knowing that they just screwed a kid out of a monumental achievement, not only because they failed to stay within the guidelines of their voting, but because they were stupid enough not to read all of the details concerning the case.

  20. boomgrounder says: Dec 2, 2013 2:36 AM

    A rape investigation is a serous issue. If the alleged victim said no and was a victim of date rape it doesn’t make it less of a rape, it’s still rape. Most victims of domestic violence and/or date rape know their assailants. It’s not unusual for the assailant to continue a relationship to further manipulate the victim in these cases, it’s actually quite common. Innocent until proven guilty works both ways. Let the justice system play out before you judge. In most date rapes the assailant is never charged but that doesn’t mean a rape didn’t occur.

  21. dolbythomas says: Dec 2, 2013 4:44 AM

    I would keep mariota in the mix, but he wont win. but up until he got hurt he was flat out the best. he’s a soph. and if he sticks around for his jr year. he will be the favorite…… the players need to keep there mouths shut… d.a.t !!

  22. airmdc2 says: Dec 2, 2013 7:38 AM

    AJ McCarron should be hands down…Winston is a one season entity regardless of what else is going on (frame job)…AJ spans several seasons of consistency which ought to be worth something. Manziel…..no wonder his coach didn’t allow him to talk to the media last year for so long. He’s lacking at best in couth, great QB, but not to savvy with people….surprised they can find a helmet to fit that head.

  23. mogogo1 says: Dec 2, 2013 10:58 AM

    So, the article says things are unsettled, then details why everybody but Winston is out of the running? That doesn’t sound very unsettled to me.

  24. 8to80texansblog says: Dec 2, 2013 12:38 PM

    Mr. Wright 212 says: Dec 1, 2013 10:24 PM

    jagtiger says: Dec 1, 2013 9:47 PM

    McCarron may not win the Heisman, but he’s the QB that will have the best NFL career!
    —————-

    Ryan Fitzpatrick 2.0.
    ___________

    You’re comparing an Ivy league QB to a SEC QB that won 2 National titles and was a back up for a 3rd….?

  25. oldforester says: Dec 2, 2013 1:09 PM

    Who thinks I am at least partially correct, thumbs up for yes, down for no.

    The Heisman Trust needs to step up and clarify the criteria for this award. They remain virtually silent. The first sentence of their Mission Statement says this: “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”

    What is their definition of excellence? What is their definition of integrity? It seems they have abdicated responsibility and now allow voters, PR campaigns, media, and fan bases to define what and who the best Heisman candidate is by any definition that fits their candidate.

    The Heisman Trust needs to step up, and give clearer direction with a more specific definition of both what it perceives as excellence and integrity, and what it looks for in an eventual winner. They have been silent for too long. If they do not speak up and clarify what they more specifically want, the award loses all its integrity.

  26. frank booth says: Dec 2, 2013 1:13 PM

    Mr. Wright 212 says: Dec 1, 2013 6:12 PM

    Unsettled according to whom? It’s Winston’s to lose, and lose only due to this fraudulent case. Most voters don’t want to be guilty of allowing this to swing their vote. If, by some hypothetical case, he is found to be complicit and charged, then they can easily rescind it later. But the bigger injustice would be not voting for him when most people can put two and two together and smell a rat with this whole thing.
    ==================================
    How do you know that this case is fraudulent?

  27. Mr. Wright 212 says: Dec 2, 2013 2:11 PM

    8to80texansblog says: Dec 2, 2013 12:38 PM

    Mr. Wright 212 says: Dec 1, 2013 10:24 PM

    jagtiger says: Dec 1, 2013 9:47 PM

    McCarron may not win the Heisman, but he’s the QB that will have the best NFL career!
    —————-

    Ryan Fitzpatrick 2.0.
    ___________

    You’re comparing an Ivy league QB to a SEC QB that won 2 National titles and was a back up for a 3rd….?
    —————-

    Give it 5 years, you won’t be able to tell McCarron apart from Fitzpatrick’s career to this point.

  28. Mr. Wright 212 says: Dec 2, 2013 2:17 PM

    airmdc2 says: Dec 2, 2013 7:38 AM

    AJ McCarron should be hands down…Winston is a one season entity regardless of what else is going on (frame job)…AJ spans several seasons of consistency which ought to be worth something. Manziel…..no wonder his coach didn’t allow him to talk to the media last year for so long. He’s lacking at best in couth, great QB, but not to savvy with people….surprised they can find a helmet to fit that head.
    ———-

    Do you have smegma for brains? This is an in-season award. Not a legacy award. Winston has been eye-popping. McCarron is a game manager who finally ran out of luck in these types of games that Alabama has been teasing to lose a few times this year.

  29. frank booth says: Dec 2, 2013 3:26 PM

    Mr. Wright-

    Aren’t you going to answer my question?

    How do you know the Winston case is fraudulent?

  30. 8to80texansblog says: Dec 2, 2013 3:55 PM

    @frank booth
    He doesn’t, not for sure anyway… but it just looks that way.

    @airmdc2
    You’re making me agree with @Mr Wright 212 here and I’m not happy about it. But this is a season award not a career award (could be argued though with Ron Dayne and Ricky Williams winning due to career achievements)

    Now if Bama had won and had McCarron also been 12-0… he would have probably finished 2nd and taken a lot of votes away from Winston from voters who were nervous about the outcome of this investigation. But either way… this is Winston’s Heisman, and it doesn’t seem that anyone else is even close….

  31. Mr. Wright 212 says: Dec 2, 2013 5:38 PM

    I mean Dayne got the Heisman solely because Peter Warrick — who was BY FAR the best player in the nation, wire to wire, and on the biggest stage in the National Championship (after the award, obviously) — sweet talked that girl into giving him and Laveranues ridiculous discounts on clothes LMAO.

  32. Mr. Wright 212 says: Dec 2, 2013 5:40 PM

    frank booth says: Dec 2, 2013 3:26 PM

    Mr. Wright-

    Aren’t you going to answer my question?

    How do you know the Winston case is fraudulent?
    —————

    Put two and two together (if you are capable). Only people who WANT the allegations to be true refuse to see how much of a joke this whole thing is.

  33. frank booth says: Dec 2, 2013 5:56 PM

    Mr. Wright 212 says: Dec 2, 2013 5:40 PM

    frank booth says: Dec 2, 2013 3:26 PM

    Mr. Wright-

    Aren’t you going to answer my question?

    How do you know the Winston case is fraudulent?
    —————

    Put two and two together (if you are capable). Only people who WANT the allegations to be true refuse to see how much of a joke this whole thing is.
    ==================================
    That’s really your answer? Are you saying that a good college quarterback can’t commit sexual assault? Why don’t you at least support your answer with some facts?

    Or is it more that you just don’t want to lose your quarterback?

    I believe they have DNA evidence that he had sex with her. The question now is whether or not he forced her. And you don’t know that answer. Neither do I.

    There are rape victims that never come out, or get scared about coming out, especially in a situation like this. She went to the police after it occurred, not just recently. It wouldn’t be unheard of in a college town to try and sweep something under the table (Remember how it went down at Penn State)

    So, just show me some evidence that she is lying. Surely, since you think she is, you have something to back that up, right?

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