Heisman Trophy announces three 2015 finalists

55 Comments

In what’s sure to be a controversial decision regardless of who ultimately wins it, the finalists for the most famous hardware in all of college sports were revealed Sunday evening on ESPN.

The 2015 finalists for the Heisman Trophy include a pair of running backs and one quarterbacks.  The three finalists are also spread out among the ACC, Pac-12 and SEC.

Below are those finalists and their pertinent stats, presented in alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone:

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (12-1, No. 2)
Season: 339 carries for 1,986 yards (5.9 ypc), 23 touchdowns; 10 receptions for 97 yards
Highlights: Henry leads the country in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.  His yardage total broke the 34-year-old single-season SEC record set by Georgia great Herschel Walker in 1981.

Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR/return specialist/hot dog vendor, Stanford (11-2, No. 6)
Season:319 carries for 1,847 yards (5.8 ypc), eight touchdowns; 41 receptions for 540 yards, four touchdowns; 36 kick returns for 1,042 yards, one touchdown; 14 punt returns for 67 yards; 2-3 passing (66.7%), 39 yards, two touchdowns, 395.9 passer rating
Highlights: One of the most versatile players in the country, McCaffrey is also a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award.  His 3,496 all-purpose yards broke the record set by Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders in 1988.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (13-0, No. 1)
Season: 287-413 (69.5%), 3,512 yards, 30 touchdowns, 11 interceptions; 163 carries for 887 yards (5.4 ypc), 11 touchdowns
Highlights: The triggerman for the only undefeated team in the country, Watson is 11th in the country in passing efficiency.  He’s also third among quarterbacks in rushing yards (887) and tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns (11).

As we have noted in the past, the number of finalists are determined by hitting an unspecified voting threshold. That number fluctuates as low as three (last year) and as high as six (2013).

Alabama has now seen 13 of its players finish in the top five of the Heisman voting since the first award was handed out in 1935, behind only Notre Dame (29), Ohio State (18), Oklahoma (17) and USC (16).  Stanford has had 10 in the top five, tying Army, Miami and Texas for ninth-best ever.

The 2014 winner of the Heisman was Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.  The 81st winner of the stiff-arm trophy will be announced Saturday night on ESPN late in a show that begins at 8 ET.

Bowling Green loses part-time starting corner to transfer

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As you’re likely well aware already, it’s not just Power Five programs who see a roster reshuffling this time of the year.

The latest Group of Five school to experience that personnel phenomenon is Bowling Green, with Cam Jefferies announcing on his personal Twitter account that, “[a]fter a countless amount of prayer and conversation with those closest to me,” he will be transferring from that Falcons. The cornerback gave no specific reason for the decision to move on from the MAC school.

According to his tweet, Jefferies is set to graduate from the university in August. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.

A two-star recruit coming out of high school in Ohio, Jefferies took a redshirt as a true freshman in 2015. The past two seasons, the defensive back started 12 of the 21 games in which he played. Seven of those starts came this past season.

Dabo Swinney, Hunter Johnson address QB’s transfer

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Clemson has officially bid adieu to a highly-touted member of its 2017 recruiting class.

Earlier in the day Monday, reports surfaced that Hunter Johnson had decided to transfer from the Tigers, with a couple of Big Ten schools already listed as potential landing spots. Not long after that news made the rounds, Dabo Swinney acknowledged the reports, calling the quarterback “one of the best young men I’ve ever coached” in sending his former player his well-wishes.

“While it is always disappointing to lose a great person and a great player, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Hunter and watch him grow and develop over the last year and a half,” the full statement attributed to the head coach began. “Hunter is one of the best young men I have ever coached and has a very bright future ahead of him.

“I wish him all the best as he decides on his destination.”

Johnson himself issued his own statement through the school’s sports information department addressing the development.

“I want to thank Coach Swinney and the Clemson family for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something special,” said Johnson. “I’ve met some amazing people who I will forever call family. I am a better man and a better football player because of my time spent at Clemson. Go Tigers!”

The composite board on 247Sports.com had Johnson rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 30 player at any position for the Class of 2017. As a true freshman, Johnson completed 21 of his 27 passes for 234 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in seven appearances.

It’s believed that Johnson, who will have to sit out the 2018 season but would then have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2019, is eyeing Northwestern or Purdue as potential transfer destinations.

Former USC assistant coach Todd McNair loses defamation lawsuit vs. NCAA

Getty Images
Leave a comment

By a vote of 9-3, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair has lost his defamation lawsuit against the NCAA. Following six days of deliberation, the verdict brings to a close the Reggie Bush scandal that began more than a decade ago, a scandal that saw the Trojans lose their 2004 BCS national championship and Bush be stripped of his 2005 Heisman Trophy.

McNair sued the NCAA after it found him guilty of unethical conduct while Bush received impermissible benefits. He was given a 1-year show-cause penalty, and has not worked since his contract expired in the summer of 2010.

McNair sought $27 million in damages from the NCAA.

McNair’s attorney Bruce Broilett told ESPN his team was “very disappointed … disappointed in the result. Assessing the situation and considering our next steps.”

David Beaty releases statement on firing of KU AD Sheahon Zenger

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kansas fired athletics director Sheahon Zenger earlier today. If the move was immediately greeted as a vote of no-confidence in Zenger’s ability to find and hire the next Jayhawks football coach — and, thus, a vote of no-confidence in the David Beaty era — that’s because it pretty much is.

“But Athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary,” KU chancellor Douglas Girod said in his statement announcing Zenger’s firing.

The playbook is well documented by now: to replace the head coach, you must first replace the AD who hired the head coach, and the replacement will then hire the new head coach. We’ve seen it play out at a number of places, most recently Nebraska, where Bill Moos was brought in to replace Shawn Eichorst, and Moos promptly fired Mike Riley and hired Scott Frost.

Beaty is a well-liked coach, but college football is a results business and a 3-33 record speaks for itself. Beaty surely knows that score better than anyone.

Hours after the news went public, Beaty released a statement of his own on Monday afternoon.

As if the 3-33 mark wasn’t obvious enough, the beginning of the end of the Beaty era likely came on Monday.