Jameis Winston tops final HeismanPundit Straw Poll

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For the second year in a row, a redshirt freshman has topped the college football season’s final HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston collected seven out of 10 possible first-place votes and totaled a season-best 26 points from the weekly survey of Heisman voters, putting him on the verge of becoming a landslide winner of the most prestigious trophy in sports.

The result comes just five days after Florida state authorities decided against charging Winston for felony sexual assault and two days after the freshman led the Seminoles to a 45-7 victory over Duke in the ACC title game to complete an undefeated regular season.

To get to this point, Winston set NCAA freshman records this season for passing yards (3,820) and passing touchdowns (38) and produced a passer rating of 190.06, just below the all-time efficiency mark of 191.78 held by Russell Wilson of Wisconsin. If, as the poll predicts, Winston goes on to win the Heisman, he’ll do so with the highest passer rating in the trophy’s history.

He will be the third Florida State player to win the Heisman and first since Chris Weinke did so in 2000, which was also the last time the Seminoles made it to the BCS national title game. He’s also set to be the youngest player to win the trophy, beating out Alabama’s Mark Ingram by 14 days.

“He’s been spectacular all season,” said one voter. “Florida State has been a juggernaut on offense and he’s the main reason for it. No other candidate has been as consistent as he has been.”

The lack of consistency by other candidates in the race is reflected in the poll’s results, which includes a HeismanPundit Straw Poll-record 12 players in the final balloting, topping the 11 selected in 2009′s final poll (when Mark Ingram defeated Toby Gerhart by the closest vote in Heisman history).

If this year’s poll is correct, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch will take second in the race and claim the highest Heisman finish by a non-BCS-conference player in the BCS era. Lynch grabbed two first-place votes to finish with eight points, well behind Winston’s total.

Defending winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M was third with seven points, while running back Tre Mason of Auburn picked up the last first-place vote to finish fourth with five points.

Alabama’s AJ McCarron was fifth with four points.

Now in its eighth season, the HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll is the college football world’s most trusted gauge of Heisman voter sentiment. It has been the most accurate Heisman poll in the country during the past seven seasons, with the final 2012 poll correctly picking the top five finishers and the final 2011 poll picking the top seven. This year’s poll is made up of 10 anonymous Heisman voters from across the country. Each week during the season they picked three players. Tabulations for the preseason poll are tabulated like a real Heisman ballot, with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.

Each week’s poll was released on Tuesdays throughout the season at HeismanPundit.com. Heisman votes are due on Monday, Dec. 9 at 5 p.m ET. The finalists for the 2013 Heisman Trophy ceremony will be announced at 6 p.m. on Dec. 9 and the trophy will be awarded on Saturday, Dec. 14.

The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll, 12/9/2013

Total Points (with first place votes in parentheses)

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State — 26 (7)

2. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois — 8 (2)

3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — 7

4. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn — 5 (1)

5. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama — 4

6. (tie) Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon — 2

Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State — 2

8. (tie) Andre Williams, RB, Boston College — 1

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor — 1

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville — 1

Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford — 1

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh — 1

Number of ballots
Winston — 8
Lynch — 4
McCarron — 4
Manziel — 4
Mason — 3

Everyone else — 1

College football world will watch as SEC reviews graduate transfer rules at spring meetings

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Among a handful of items on the agenda for this week’s SEC spring meetings will be a review and discussion about the league’s graduate transfer rules. Specifically, the SEC is expected to address the current restrictions on accepting players as graduate transfers if a previous graduate transfer fails to meet that school’s academic requirements.

“This will be the first meaningful conversation that we’ve had since the proliferation of graduate transfers has happened nationally,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said to the Associated Press. ”I expect our membership to have a pretty meaningful conversation about the right perspective on graduate transfers entering the SEC from outside and then the topic of inter-conference transfers.”

Sankey has promised the topic of graduate transfer rules will be reviewed at the SEC spring meetings, and it will be a bit overdue. Better later than never, right?

Like the early signing period, this is a topic the SEC has found themselves standing in the minority crowd. The SEC has had a complicated relationship to graduate transfers since the NCAA opened the door for graduate transfers in 2006. The conference banned all graduate transfers in 2011 after Ole Miss had added former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli as a graduate transfer. The Masoli transfer was one scrutinized by the NCAA and critics before officially being cleared following an appeal. In 2014, the ban was lifted, but with provisions in place to ensure SEC schools were not adding graduate transfers with no intention of pursuing a graduate degree.

One person who may be watching this development this week with great interest is likely former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire. Zaire is suspected to be down to deciding whether to transfer to Florida or Texas, and he has already pushed back his decision seemingly to wait and see if the Gators will be an actual option. For that to happen, the SEC will have to amend its graduate transfer policy or allow Florida an exemption.

Florida is unable to add a graduate transfer like Zaire because two previous graduate transfers (former Georgia Tech linebacker Anthony Harrell and former Fordham offensive lineman Mason Halter) failed to meet the academic requirements after transferring to Florida. That put Florida on a three-year ban from adding any graduate transfers through 2018.

But if the SEC is the one lagging behind the competition when it comes to its graduate transfer policies, why would the college football world be watching? That’s easy. If the sEC amends its graduate transfer policies, then makes the conference that already typically dominates in talent acquisition through recruiting has a chance to become even stronger and more desirable. Graduate transfers who may be blocked from enrolling at an SEC school and have been forced to evaluate other options in the Big 12 or Big Ten and so on, could have a chance to transfer to the SEC. For example, Florida could add Zaire to their roster, which leaves Texas hoping Tom Herman really works his QB magic in Austin.

There is a ripple effect that could potentially play out, even in a conference that is in need of catching up in this particular issue. That’s how important the decisions made in the SEC could be for the entire sport.

Brandon Jacobs says he will ‘expose’ Jim Harbaugh, get him fired

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We’re knee-deep — or higher — into the college football offseason, so of course we have a Twitter beef to bide our time until real football begins again.

Brandon Jacobs was a running back who played his college football at FCS Southern Illinois and went on to spend nine mostly productive years at the NFL level, including one season with the San Francisco 49ers.  That one season in the Bay Area wasn’t remembered fondly by Jacobs, though, who used a radio interview this past week to (again) absolutely rip into his head football coach at the time — current Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh.

“I had a lot of respect for Jim when I was there, before I got to know him,” a transcription from mlive.com began.

“Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. … That guy knew nothing, man.”

Not being one to shy away from such a damning public evisceration, Harbaugh got Twitter Biblical in addressing his former player’s public admonition…

… with his former player responding by threatening to expose Harbaugh in such a manner that it will end in his dismissal…

The fact that Jacobs isn’t exactly a fan of Harbaugh doesn’t come as a huge surprise, with the player referring to his former coach as a “bitch” multiple times, as well as a loser, during a radio interview more than three years ago.

He is a bitch, and that’s why he’s never won anything,” Jacobs said. “It is what it is. I’ve got two rings. Harbaugh, though, he’s a bitch. So it doesn’t matter.”

In exactly 97 days, Michigan will open the 2017 college football season against Florida. Whether the Wolverines open the season with Harbaugh at the helm will apparently depend on how much exposing from five years ago Jacobs plans on doing.  Or Jacobs’ lingering and ongoing bitterness won’t make a spit bit of difference.  One of the two.

Report: Big 12 still raking in SEC-level cash

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It’s a bad time for the Big 12. The conference isn’t signing blue chip prospects at the rate of its peers, isn’t producing draft picks at the rate of its peers and isn’t reaching and winning big games at the rate of its peers.

But the Big 12 is still getting paid at the rate of its peers.

The league’s contracts with ESPN and FOX combined with its 10-team set up have allowed the Big 12 to keep pace with the SEC and Big Ten and remain ahead of the ACC and Pac-12 in financial distribution. The Dallas Morning News‘s Big 12 writer Chuck Carlton tweeted on Friday the league’s per-school distribution will again grow 10 percent to more than $33 million in 2017-18.

The SEC distributed just north of $40 million in 2016-17, while the Big Ten was at $33 million by 2014-15.

However, since the Big 12 does not have its own television network, its conference distributions do not include third-tier rights, which its schools keep and sell on their own — like the Longhorn Network. So schools like Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas are likely getting paid equal or above their SEC and Big Ten peers.

Now if only they could start recruiting and winning like them, too.

Former Texas DT Jordan Elliott headed to Mizzou

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Former Texas defensive tackle Jordan Elliott will now be a Missouri Tiger, he announced on Friday.

Elliott chose Missouri to follow Brick Haley, his defensive line coach in Austin that landed at Mizzou after Charlie Strong‘s firing.

“They’re a program that’s on the come up, SEC ball is the highest level,” Elliott said in an interview with Power Mizzou. “Coach Haley is one of the best D-Line coaches out there. Missouri’s a powerhouse for defensive linemen. They’re coming and going first round every year. That’s real appealing to me.

“I talked to coach Haley and got it rolling.”

Elliott was a Signing Day addition to Strong’s 2016 class who was committed to Michigan before his late flip. He said that his one season in Austin amounted to a year-long version of buyer’s remorse.

“There’s a lot of speculation going around, but at the end of the day I just wasn’t happy there,” he said. “It’s nothing against the coaches at Texas, they’re great coaches. It’s a great program and I really learned a lot of things, but I just never really enjoyed Texas since I first got there.”

Elliott posted eight tackles and 1.5 TFLs in six appearances as a true freshman last season before suffering a torn MCL against Iowa State in October.

He would have been in line for starter’s snaps had he remained on Tom Herman‘s squad this fall. Instead, Elliott will sit out the 2017 campaign and have three years remaining to compete as a Tiger beginning in ’18.