For (and against) this year’s candidates, Part One

I hear a lot of arguments all the time by media and fans for why the various candidates should, or should not, be considered for the Heisman Trophy.

Frankly, I find most of the points offered to be lacking. They usually have gaping holes that could be filled by anyone who does basic research. That said, what I’m going to do now is make my best case for and my best case against each candidate.

Today, my for/against are on Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Trent Richardson.

For Andrew Luck

What more could you ask this guy to do? He doesn’t play for a team filled with elite talent. He plays for Stanford, a program that actually requires that athletes be able to read and write before they strap on the pads. Despite all that, he’s led the Cardinal to two-straight 11-1 regular seasons and put that program squarely into the conversation as one of the best in the country. Those people who think his numbers aren’t good are crazy. He is fifth nationally in pass efficiency, is completing 70 percent of his passes and he’s thrown 35 TD passes. Of all the quarterbacks under consideration, he throws the ball the least (he is 41st nationally in attempts per game), a clear handicap to his stats that should be taken into account. And then there are the weapons at his disposal. He has none. His best wide receiver runs a 4.8 40. None of his targets can stretch the field in the way that most receivers can. Sure, his tight ends are great, but they are great because they are his only reliable targets. Give him a reliable target, well, you see what happens. They become great. Finally, we all know about his physical ability and status as a the pending No. 1 NFL pick. The truth is, as an athlete and as a passer he could shine in any system. If he played for Houston, USC, Alabama, Oregon or Oklahoma State, he’d still be an amazing quarterback. Could the quarterbacks from those teams say the same if they played for Stanford? No way. Plus, watch how far Stanford falls next year when Luck leaves. Years from now, when Luck is an all-pro quarterback, we’re going to be kicking ourselves that he didn’t win a Heisman. Besides, after the corruption and shadiness of the last year in college football, Luck is the best combination of outstanding play on the field and character off of it.

Against Andrew Luck

If there’s anything I hate, it’s being told what to think. For the last year, all that’s been talked about is the great Andrew Luck. Sorry, but I just don’t see what all the fuss is about. When I watch Stanford, I see a boring, grind-it-out offense with Luck making easy throws. He’s supposed to be this once-in-a-lifetime talent, so why don’t we ever see a once-in-a-lifetime performance out of him? He’s going to be a great NFL player. So what?  This is college and the Heisman is about the most outstanding player in college. I’m also not sure that Luck has truly been tested this year. He was strongest in the first 7 or 8 games of the season, throwing 20 TD passes and just 3 picks against very weak competition. Over the last 5 games, with the competition getting tougher, he’s looked rather ordinary, throwing 15 TDs and 6 interceptions (2 against Oregon in the most important game of the year). The guy doesn’t have a single 400-yard passing game, no 5-TD bonanzas, no 100-yard rushing performances (he’s supposed to be mobile, right?). He’s been consistent, but I wanted to see more from this guy who, after all, is supposed to be this perfect quarterback. He hasn’t shown it.

For Robert Griffin III

For all the talk about Luck’s talent, the quarterback with the rarest and purest talent in football–yes, football–is Robert Griffin III. This is a guy who left high school early and then finished third in the NCAA 400m hurdles in the same spring at Baylor. He’s simply the best athlete to ever play the position. And he’s not just an athlete. He’s got a stronger arm and is more accurate than Luck. He’s more efficient than Case Keenum, Brandon Weeden or Matt Barkley. In fact, his current efficiency rating of 191.1 is an NCAA record. Here’s a guy who is actually living up to the hype by breaking NCAA records and people have doubts about whether he is worthy of the Heisman? Look at what he means to his team. Right now, the Baylor Bears are 8-3 with one game to go. Mind you, this is a program that has not won 8 regular-season games since 1991. This time of year, it is usually 3-8. This is not a program that has had the luxury of reloading every year like the elite schools. This is Baylor, the little sisters of the Big 12. Not this year. The Bears have beaten four bowl teams, including ranked programs in TCU and Oklahoma. If his defense wasn’t ranked 114th in the country, he’d have a few more wins to his credit. He’s simply the best deep ball thrower in the country, so it’s no wonder he leads the nation in yards per attempt (an amazing 10.6). He’s thrown 34 touchdown passes, with just 5 interceptions and is 72.6 percent on his completions. He’s rushed for 612 yards and 7 more scores. Want spectacular and exciting to go with skill and production?  He’s the complete package. No matter how you slice it, he’s just better than any other player in the country. Oh, and if you want to talk about off-the-field accomplishments, consider that Griffin III is a fine student about to get his second degree in the spring.

Against Robert Griffin III

Part of being a great player is being able to elevate your team to great heights. Sorry, but Robert Griffin III hasn’t really done that with Baylor. Sure, they’ve won some games they wouldn’t usually win, but I’d chalk that up more to the weird bounces of college football than any particular kind of accomplishment on his part. The wins over TCU and Oklahoma could’ve gone either way and, if they had gone the other way, we wouldn’t be talking about RG3 for Heisman right now as a result. The fact is, Griffin III plays in a league where almost anyone can put up big passing numbers. Four of the top seven passers in the country are from the Big 12, so what he’s doing is pretty much par for the course. He plays in a wide-open offense that caters to his abilities (did you see how good his backup was the other night? The system produces numbers for anyone!). Put him in a more orthodox system and he wouldn’t be nearly as productive. Can we give the Heisman to a guy whose team has three losses? Sure, Tim Tebow’s team had three losses when he won it in 2007….but Griffin is no Tebow.

For Trent Richardson

We all know that the best athletes in the country reside in the SEC, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Trent Richardson has rushed for almost 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns against the SEC alone this season. He’s been the bellcow for the Crimson Tide as they’ve all-but-secured another trip to the national title game. Richardson is a future NFL first round pick with the talent to carry any team. He’s probably the strongest player, pound-for-pound, in college football. He’s performed on the biggest stages, with the most pressure, and shined on all of them. He’s not in a system that pads his numbers, like some of the other contenders. He’s a no-nonsense back going mano à mano against the best defenses in college football. Teams know he is going to get the ball, but he produces anyway. He averages 6 yards per carry and has scored 23 touchdowns this season, tying Tim Tebow’s SEC record. He’s sixth nationally in rushing with 1,583 yards. Without Richardson, Bama probably doesn’t make it to the BCS title game. The Tide needed an outstanding back to get them there this year and Richardson got it done.

Against Trent Richardson

Face it, Richardson padded his numbers in a down year for the SEC. Almost a quarter of his yards (378) came in the last two games against FCS school Georgia Southern and an appallingly bad Auburn rush defense (ranked 99th in the country). Against non-winning teams, he put up 879 of his 1,583 yards and 16 of his 20 rushing touchdowns. Don’t talk to me about his supposedly tough schedule.  The Tide have beaten one team in the top 20 of the BCS rankings. ONE. They’ve played only four FBS teams with winning records. Sure, Richardson is a future talent, but he’s done nothing to really distinguish himself this season. In the biggest game of the year, against LSU, he was held to 89 yards on less than 4 yards per carry and kept out of the end zone (and don’t talk to me about his all-purpose yardage. Shifting the criteria is a sure sign of a losing argument). The SEC has been handed the two BCS championship slots without a whole lot of thought going into it. Is it really fair–or appropriate–to give the conference another Heisman as well? If you are going to pick a running back, pick Montee Ball, who has more yards than Richardson and the second most TDs in NCAA history.

* * *

I’ll break down Montee Ball, Case Keenum and Matt Barkley tomorrow. In the meantime, feel free to do your own pro and con in the comments section.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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71 Responses to For (and against) this year’s candidates, Part One

  1. CM November 28, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    Good arguments for and against all 3.

    I still say Richardson should win it based on, yes, the competition he’s faced. I’ve watched every Bama game and I know he’s split a lot of time and didn’t play at all in several 4th quarters. This was done to keep him fresh and avoid injury, but it also took away from him padding his rushing stats during “garbage” time when opposing defenses were usually worn out. Andrew Luck had under 200 yards passing against a very bad Notre Dame defense until just a few minutes left in the 4th quarter…talk about ending your Heisman campaign with a whimper. Meanwhile, Trent Richardson goes for over 200 yards against the defending national champions in crunch time. Yes, auburn’s rush defense isn’t great…but it also shut down Lamarcus Lattimore early in the year…which everyone agrees is a great RB. auburn’s defense is faster and more athletic than most any Andrew Luck faced all season. It was also a rivalry game AT auburn. If you know how intense that game is, it makes Richardson’s performance even that much more impressive. Plus, he had one of the greatest “Heisman moment” runs I’ve seen in a long time…even sporting the Heisman stiff arm DURING the play (as opposed to the lame showboating poses in the endzone some players do).

    • Ralph November 28, 2011 at 8:14 am #

      “I still say Richardson should win it based on, yes, the competition he’s faced. besides Arkansas & LSU, who he didn’t play well against, the SEC is weak this year. I’ve watched every Bama game and I know he’s split a lot of time and didn’t play at all in several 4th quarters. Same can be said of Luck. This was done to keep him fresh and avoid injury, but it also took away from him padding his rushing stats during “garbage” time when opposing defenses were usually worn out. Andrew Luck had under 200 yards passing against a very bad Notre Dame defense until just a few minutes left in the 4th quarter…talk about ending your Heisman campaign with a whimper. ND defense is ranked #33 – Auburn D is ranked #78, according to the NCAA. Meanwhile, Trent Richardson goes for over 200 yards against the defending national champions in crunch time. Yes, auburn’s rush defense isn’t great…but it also shut down Lamarcus Lattimore early in the year and gave up 38 points to Utah St, 23 to Ole Miss, and almost 200 yards per game… so basically Richardson basically gained the average against them…which everyone agrees is a great RB. auburn’s defense is faster and more athletic than most any Andrew Luck faced all season. Teams better than Auburn’s #78 rank: #27 California, #33 ND, #54 USC, #64 Oregon. It was also a rivalry game AT auburn.Stanford-ND is a rivalry game too – they play every year. If you know how intense that game is, it makes Richardson’s performance even that much more impressive. would you say the same thing about Stanford-Cal? Plus, he had one of the greatest “Heisman moment” runs I’ve seen in a long time…even sporting the Heisman stiff arm DURING the play yeah, like that was his intention, to pose (as opposed to the lame showboating poses in the endzone some players do).”

      Your arguments are subjective and tinged with homerism.

      • Roger November 28, 2011 at 8:19 am #

        Great post Ralph. Good research. Let’s hope the voters do the same.

      • Kyle November 28, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

        Ok Andrew Luck has been taken out in only one fourth quarter this year and his backup has a total of 8 passing attempts. Come on? Before you criticize another person’s facts, get yours right first.

        • cardinalfan November 29, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

          Luck doesn’t come out in the fourth, but he was hardly ever making throws once they were up.

    • Roger November 28, 2011 at 8:16 am #

      A bunch of opinion, limited number of facts.

  2. diabloso November 28, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    incorrect. RG3 > Tebow

  3. Heismanpundit November 28, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    That ‘very bad’ ND defense is ranked 33rd nationally in total defense. Let’s not overstate Auburn’s defense too much. That’s a bad defense that quit by the fourth quarter against Bama–Richardson’s big run came late and was irrelevant to the outcome. The numbers don’t lie.

    • Kyle November 28, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

      And Notre Dame’s defense kept going huh? Give me a break. Its a two-way street bud.

  4. Mitch November 28, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    While I’m an avid Alabama fan, my vote today would be for RG3 with TR being a very close second. If RG3 hadn’t been knocked out of the Tech game, he might could’ve just about locked it up…if he has a good game against Texas, he might lock it up any way. He’s completion % on passes over 25 yards is outrageous…he doesn’t just pad his passing numbers with screens & short passes, he throws the ball downfield efficiently as well…plus he has 2 signature victories (TCU & Oklahoma) and a prime Heisman moment with that awesome cross-field bomb against Oklahoma…

    As you noted, TR’s rushing & TD numbers would be greater but Bama’s system is not configured to pad numbers. I’d give TR a big advantage on competition though…from what I read (either ESPN or Yahoo Sports), TR played against 8 teams whose defenses were rated in the top 50; none of the other Heisman contenders have played more than 4 defenses in the top 50…and TR has had a couple of Heisman highlights as well…

    While I think Luck is the most pro-ready QB around, if he wins I think it’ll be more of a career award as opposed to him having the best year. RG3 has much better numbers & Barkley’s numbers compare favorably as well; I won’t make a comparison to Keenum due to the level of competition and the system that he’s in. Also, while Luck has been steady all year, he hasn’t really had a Heisman moment that really stands out this season. Luck will be a well-deserved overall 1st pick in the NFL draft and I have a feeling that he’ll probably win the Heisman…but if the Heisman is supposed to be for the best college player for the current year, I think it should go to RG3 (dependent upon his game with Texas) or TR…

  5. AF November 28, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Montee Ball basically has Richardson’s stats but better. Change the name of the conferences their teams play in, but keep the competition the same and no one would argue for Richardson. I’m a fan of an SEC team, and I’ll admit the SEC is terrible this year.

    • Kyle November 28, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

      Forget the strength of defenses Richardson has faced. No matter how good the defense is, when a team stacks 10 in the box and there are only 8 to block, the RB has to do a lot of the work themselves. The thing with Montee Ball is that the opposing defense has to beware of the pass so they only put 7 or 8 in the box at most. Watch the games of both Richardson and Ball, you will see a distinct difference. The most important stat of the Heisman race is Trent Richardson has 1,108 yards after contact; Montee Ball has 894. I really wish voters would watch the games. They will see who is better. Its clearly Richardson over anyone else.

      • Marc December 2, 2011 at 7:39 am #

        I agree with Kyle. (maybe I’ve biased). But how many times has Ball faced 8 or 10 in the box. Many teams haven’t been cautious of AJ’s throwing abilities (maybe next year). Not a apple to apples comparison when looking at stats alone for Richardson and Ball.

        My top two are Griffin and Richardson. Not sure which is the #1 yet.

  6. Trickster November 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Re “all-purpose yardage:” I agree if you’re talking about return yardage. Unless a guy is a return star, that shouldn’t be taken into account.

    Receiving yardage? A very different animal. The ability to be a productive receiver greatly enhances a tailback’s value. Richardson is an outstanding receiver, and it’s silly to ignore that. It’s particularly silly to ignore his 80 yards receiving against LSU. 169 yards rushing and receiving is over 50% more than any other back got against them. Richardson was a monster in that game.

    I had Griffin leading last week, but Trent had a huge game against Auburn and Griffin got injured. While you don’t want to punish a guy for an injury, it happens like clockwork in the Heisman race (hello, Lamichael James/Sam Bradford, etc.) The only way to win the Heisman is to play and play well.

    The way I see it is Richardson has a slight lead. IF Griffin plays against Texas this week, and plays at a very high level, he has a chance to win it back. Nobody else has a chance except Luck, and I would hate that. I’m an Alabama fan and pulling for Richardson sentimentally, but I would not have the slightest complaint if Griffin, Moore, or even Russell Wilson or Montee Ball won it. If Luck wins it, it will be for no other reason than that he was the pre-anointed favorite, and I would just hate that.

    Even though I’m an Alabama fan, I’m pulling more for Luck to lose than for Richardson to win. If Luck wins, it’s bad for the Heisman because it shows that the process is just too warped by media favoritism. And just to be clear, I’ve got nothing against Luck as a player and expect he will be a Pro Bowl QB–probably. But there is no way he has earned the Heisman on the field this year.

    • GMan November 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

      Trickster – you’re last paragraph is shared by a lot of fans in college football, but let it be known that almost exactly the same sentiment you’re going through now was flipped in the Gerhart/Ingram debate in 2009. Ingram ran for 15 TDs in the entire regular season. Gerhart ran for 13 TDs in the final 4 games against stiff competition (USC, Cal, Oregon, and Notre Dame).

      I’m not making a judgment on who deserves to win it this year, but if Luck takes it over Richardson, I think you will be hard-pressed to find many people sending sympathies to Alabama. The Heisman competition tends to operate in certain ways. You can’t support media favoritism when it falls your way and then lambast the process when it turns against your team.

      • Trickster November 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

        It’s not regional favoritism that bothers me. The Heisman is, and always has been, extremely political. If you look at HP’s post about who is likely to win, it’s all about the regional and positional vote and how it gets split. That’s how it has always been.

        But there’s something more specific that bothers me, and it has absolutely been a torch I have been carrying for years and has nothing to do with “support[ing] media favoritism when it falls [my] way and then lambast[ing] the process when it turns against [my] team.”

        It has only been over the last 10-20 years that people have started analyzing the Heisman race from week 1 instead of waiting until the guys established a track record THIS YEAR. It is getting worse and worse, and I hate it. If Luck wins this year, it will be perhaps the worst exampe of having a pre-anointed favorite winning it based on the anointment and not based on on-the-field performance. And yes, Luck is having a very good year, it’s just not a Heisman year.

        All apologies to the owner of this site who has a viable business plan based on keeping the Heisman speculation going all year, but I wish nobody would say a damned word about the Heisman before October 15. This year, next year, every year.

        • GMan November 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

          Let me say I’m in your boat. There are many biases inherent to the process; you named regional and positional, we’re discussing temporal biases, and you can also throw in political in too. Luck happens to have one of those strongly in his favor. Luck could be the most extreme example of temporal bias. Ingram may be the most extreme example of regional bias. Each contender has a different story.

          Applying the same start-late idea as the BCS ranking system would definitely help overcome some of these if applied to the Heisman process. That is also fantastically impractical. As HP has made very clear, the Heisman trust is kidding itself if it believes it recognizes purely the most outstanding player in college football.

  7. Josh November 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Well i agree that the SEC is down but the defenses are still pretty good. TR has faced more top 50 defenses than any other contender, sat out over 2 games when they were out of hand, and split carries while he was in the game with Lacy. I’ve seen many monte ball td’s come while wiscosin was up by 35, situations where TR has already been out of the game. Also, Luck and RG3 have had turnovers to give games away (oregon and kansas state) while Richardson has yet to cost bama a game. Finally, saying that you dont count all purpose yards in the LSU game for Richarson means that any rushing yards RG3 or Luck have should be ignored as well. RTR

    • ccard November 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      Split carries with Lacy? Please.

      Richardson had 263 carries with Lacy having 84. If you add in Fowler’s 56 carries, the two back up’s are just over half of Richardson’s carries. Interestingly, both back ups have better yards per carry stats than Richardson, 7.5 for Lacy and 6.9 for Fowler vs Richardson’s 6.0. . . .

      Even my wife, an accounting grad from Bama, appreciates facts when it comes to the numbers.

      • Josh November 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

        Alright well you will see that Fowler came in after Richardson had worn down defenses, so that sort of explains the YPC. And Ball has Wilson as a much better passing and rushing threat than AJ McCarron which probably opens up defenses a bit. And here’s a number for you if that isn’t a good enough reason, Alabama has played 8 top 70 rush defenses in the country while Wisconsin has played 4. RG3 will have played 5 top 70 pass defenses and Luck has faced 5 top 70 pass defenses.

        • GMan November 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

          Regardless of who you support, I don’t know if I can buy into any statistic that cites a “top-70” anything when there are only 120 teams to look at.

      • Kyle November 28, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

        So then Brett Nottingham (Stanford’s backup QB) is better than Andrew Luck because he has a higher yards per pass (9.79) to Andrew Luck’s 8.50? Or how about Nick Florence (RGIII’s Backup) having a higher yards per pass (12.58) to RGIII’s 10.65? Please, please look and compare stats before you try to make a point. There is always a second side. Even my wife knows and appreciate that stat fact.

        • ccard November 29, 2011 at 6:22 am #

          Using Nottingham’s statistically insignificant sample size of 8 pass attempts over the entire season to “prove” your point only shows your ignorance of statistics. You’re embarrassing yourself and educated Alabama fans everywhere.

          • Kyle November 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

            Who says I was an Alabama fan? An SEC fan? yes. But an Alabama fan, not quite. The point I was trying to make is that to compare how much a backup’s role is completely insignificant. So your reply just justifies mine. I could care less about Nottingham’s attempts.

  8. Ryan November 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Great piece – but full disclosure I am a BU Grad so I’m partial and a bit biased.

    As far as RGIII – a quick correction – he’s going for his Masters this Spring – not just his 2nd degree.
    RGIII has more complete passes over 25yds than incomplete passes – that is an incredible stat.
    You can’t minimize the fact that the TCU & OU games were ‘close’ Everyone of these players has been in a close game that could have gone either way. The problem is RGIII plays on a team w/ a very bad defense so if they had just an above avg defense there wouldn’t even be a conversation RGIII would have run away with this a long time ago. Another great argument is even when you look at Baylor’s 3 losses RGIII played great in all three so he hasn’t even had a BAD game all year. I know Baylor isn’t normally in the college football conversation but to do what he’s done w/ the player’s around him is beyond incredible.

    The Big 12 has 4 of the top 7 teams in the Sagarin ratings so if anyone is arguing about the level of the competition in the Big 12 – you just can’t.

    I don’t think you could go wrong with any of these 3 including Ball from Wisconsin – but when looking at the consistency of play throughout the year against the top competition it’s hard to vote against Robert Griffin III.

  9. DJ Drummond November 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    I like the arguments, but would like to suggest another two criteria. First, who as not originally on your list but earned his way on to consideration? Nothing against Luck, but it’s easy to win over voters who have watched you all year long and have heard how you should be the heisman winner since before the season. When someone is off the lists at the start of the season but earns attention and respect, atht should count more, in my opinion.

    Second, Heisman is the “wow” trophy. It should go to someone who, in a season, did amazing things the most often. Someone who makes people say, “hey did you see THAT?”

    With all possible respect to the other candidates, the player this year who has most accomplished those two criteria is Robert Griffin.

    • DJ November 28, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

      So, on your first point Luck is penalized because he finished second last year? While it should not be a career award, it’s also not an award for most improved or previously most underrated.

      On your second, it would be the flashiest player, not the best? By that measure, should Tom Brady never win the MVP? Does Joe Montana not belong in the Hall of Fame? Was Tim Duncan an average basketball player? Style points are nice, but there’s a lot more to being the best than making Sportscenter highlight reels.

      • Josh November 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

        and an example to agree with you is that blake griffin has the most highlights of anyone in basketball, but he is never in the debate of best player

      • Josh November 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

        and Richardson has not played in 3 4th quarters and had at least 3 other games where he was taken out with 9+ min left in the 4th, so they’re pretty even in that sense. and not all 500 of baylor’s ypg are because of him. and i am not arguing that RG3 has had a great season, but I’m stating he might be helped by very poor defenses. and you say i am ignoring facts while you don’t tell me how my facts do not prove my points. maybe you are also overlooking some important facts.

  10. DJ Drummond November 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Sorry for the spelling. Oi.

  11. Rational November 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Good writeup. Your points on Trent are spot on. I truly hope strength of schedule is getting the respect it deserves with respect to the QBs in the race. If it carries the weight it should due to the disparity between them, I think RGIII is the current front runner. If he can play in the rain this Saturday like he has been playing he should be a lock. Thanks for the break down!

  12. Ben November 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    It’s hard to think of a college QB in the country who would start over Griffin III on any team, including Stanford.

    Everyone saw him dismantle Oklahoma on that last drive. It was no fluke. Against TCU he caught 15-yard pass from Kendall Wright on third and 10 from his own 20. He got hit so hard that he couldn’t talk for few plays, but drove his team for the game-winning field goal anyway. His numbers speak for themselves, and if Baylor had an average defense, they would probably be playing for a national championship this season. It was several games into the season before Griffin had more incompletions on the year that touchdowns. Think about that for a minute. He runs very well, but his passes have been dead-on accurate all year, as evidenced by this QB rating. He does have good receivers, but his passing also makes them much better. He’s not a “system” quarterback. Baylor runs a very balanced run/pass offensive attack. Baylor’s backup, Nick Florence, who destroyed Tech in the second half last Saturday would start for many teams, but not Baylor.

    If you were picking a QB to build a team around, you’d pick RGIII. If he has, for him, an average game this weekend, he deserves the Heisman.

    • Josh November 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

      like i posted earlier, bama has faced 8 top 70 rush defenses while baylor has played 5 top 70 pass defenses. i think this fact should be taken into account as well. the strength of schedule doesn’t matter if the best team a heisman contender faced was a team with a great offense and terrible defense. I’m not saying this is the case with baylor but how well the group they are playing against is at stopping what a player does best should be a big factor. Being a bama fan and watching what trent has done this year i would have him first ahead of RG3 (and i have watched RG3 a good bit since my mother teaches there)

      • Rational November 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

        Meh, the SEC is a bit down right now from expectations, obvious exceptions excluded. The SOS is the measuring tool used to determine the difficulty of the games teams face. Putting arbitrary qualifiers into the discussion might feel nice but is silly. Top 70 is not that great so facing 3 more teams who happen to be in the majority of teams in the FBS is irrelevant. Trent has very short YPC, about 6.5. That means he gets a lot of plays to pad his numbers. RGIII completes deep passes and runs for TDs. With the 3rd most difficult SOS Baylor is the only team to average 300+ passing and 200+ rushing. Without RGIII, that does not happen. With Alabama’s O-line, I could rack up Trent’s numbers. Well, no, that might be a bit of hyperbole but given the snaps and the ‘bama o-line any one of your backs would have his numbers or very close to them.

        • Josh November 28, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

          as far as bama’s backups doing the same thing, didn’t baylor’s back up put up great numbers as well when he entered the game? I’m not saying that trent is by and far better and i admit im pretty bias but i think he should win. and like i said, 3 sos isn’t an amazing stat if it’s a bunch of teams with bad defenses. if you can put up those numbers against bad defenses. and saying its too inclusive to say that bama has played 8 of top 70 rush defenses doesn’t that mean the pass defenses baylor has played are really bad if he has only played 5 of top 70?

        • Kavin D November 29, 2011 at 7:27 am #

          I will disagree with the comment that with Bama’s D most backs would have close to his numbers. Thats rediculous. Most of Trent’s yards come after contact. That has nothing to do with the defence. When a back litteraly caries 6 to 8 defenders, while they are trying to punch the ball out and drag him to the ground, another 4 to 6 yards and sometimes more, thats where he stands out from the rest. At this point, no other back comes close to Trent!

      • BUjosh November 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

        Dude, “top 70” in any category is a fairly inaccurate indicator of a stat. Drop it down to top 20 or 30 and see how those numbers look.

        RG3 is by far the country’s most outstanding player this year. He has done more for his team than any other player in the nation…

        W, TCU – everyone knows about his comeback at the end of the game, after already putting up ridiculous numbers.
        W, STA
        W, Rice
        L, K-State – still had 350 yards passing and 5 TDs.
        W, ISU
        L, a&m – 430 yards and 3 TDs
        L, oSu – 425 yards and 1 TD pass and 1 TD rush
        W, Mizzou
        W, Kansas – Baylor doesn’t win those two games without him. The team played pretty poorly against Kansas and he led a remarkable comeback scoring 21 points in the 4th quarter to keep the game alive before winning it in OT.
        W, Oklahoma – Never happened before. I think that is elevating your team to new levels. Took Baylor to their first bowl game in over a decade and now has them on track to get 10 wins.
        W, Tech – Hadn’t beaten then since before the Big12 started. Again, elevating a team beyond what it could have normally expected.

        The only thing left is Texas this weekend. They are the best D that RG3 will see this season (so far), and he’s got one last national spotlight time left to prove his case for the trophy. Hopefully the eyes of the nation and the Heisman voters are watching Waco on Saturday.

      • AF November 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

        The difference between Richardson and Griffin is that Richardson is having one of the best seasons this year, while Griffin is having one of the best seasons ever. Somehow people are missing how insanely good a 190 passer rating is.

    • Josh November 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

      and eddie lacy, fowler, and dee hart (who is injured) could start on a lot of teams too but not at bama. and probably the same thing for the backups of all the heisman contenders. that argument is a little irrelevant

  13. Kristen November 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Quote: The wins over TCU and Oklahoma could’ve gone either way and, if they had gone the other way, we wouldn’t be talking about RG3 for Heisman right now as a result.

    Disagree. Disagree. Disagree. Baylor hasn’t beaten OU ever. Not once. I saw the game in person. Without Robert Griffin III, Baylor does not beat Oklahoma, a nationally-prominent football machine. They’ve never even come close before. TCU beat them like a drum last year, in Griffin’s first game back from a season-ending knee injury early in the prior year. Baylor hadn’t beaten Texas Tech since the start of the Big 12. Even when Tech cheap-shotted him and sent him out with a concussion, he had done enough in the first half that he set up the team for success in the second half under the planning-to-redshirt Nick Florence.

    It is Robert Griffin’s incredible skill that has put Baylor back in the game. There are other talented players on the Baylor team, like Kendall Wright and Terrance Ganaway, but it is Griffin’s ability to use those players, read the field, and be a threat while either passing OR running which has taken Baylor from being a joke in the Big 12 to a contender. No one has done more this year with fewer expectations. No one has taken Baylor football seriously for years. If Griffin wasn’t the real deal, Baylor would be just the same old Baylor.

    But they’re not. They’re winning games they wouldn’t win without him. He is a phenomenal athlete on the field, a humble leader of his team, and an excellent example of the student part of student-athlete. Robert Griffin has EARNED the votes of the Heisman pool this year.

  14. Frank Hart November 28, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    VOTERS TAKE NOTE: Excellent article. Yet not that every argument, both pro and con, for each candidate was well supported by facts and stats…except in one case. The argument against Robert Griffin III contained only one stat to support it–the comparison to other Big 12 QB’s. The remaining arguments against him were all unsupported generalizations! Not so in the case against Luck and Richardson: the arguments against were well supported by factual evidence.
    We all know that voters only want to take the facts into accout when casting their ballots. Fortunately, the facts speak for themselves in this year’s Heisman race. Because one thing that is made even more clear when one attempts to mount an argument against him, is that the facts support RG3 as the best player in the nation.

  15. Chris O'Toole November 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Your are correct, “Griffin is no Tebow”. RGIII can actually throw the ball and far better than Tebow. If Griffin were the Broncos starting quarterback today, they would win the AFC West Division and be headed for the playoffs. There is a reason Elway was in Waco for the OU game. Luck and Richardson are Top 5 picks, Griffin is the Heisman winner.

  16. Jane November 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    There’s something missing in all of these discussions about RG III, Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson, and all of the other Heisman candidates – the caliber of the recruiting classes for the last five years – the group of men who make up the current offenses and defenses supporting the candidates’ play.

    The web site publishes recruiting class ratings. These same ratings are used by the media and coaches to project how well a team will perform in the coming years. Baylor’s recruiting class points in 2007-2009 are zero, in 2010 were 1025, and in 2011 are 628, for a five year total of 1653 – which is lower than any one year total for any of Alabama, Oklahoma, or LSU. Further compare Baylor’s recruiting score to the scores of Stanford from 2007-2011 (total of 4710) or Alabama (12351), and you see the huge potential, anticipated disparity between the teams surrounding these Heisman candidates. RG III (and Baylor’s coaching staff) have lead an under-rated set of players to the best season Baylor’s had in 20 years. With RG III at the helm, Baylor’s team epitomizes “the sum of the parts being greater than the whole.” He has led this team to beyond what any “expert” predicted possible just a few months ago. On top of that, as has been pointed out by so many others on this page alone, RG III’s stats are record breaking and simply phenomenal.

    In describing Coach Bear Bryant, the legendary Houston Oiler head coach, Bum Philips said, “Bryant can take his and beat yours, and then he can turn around and take yours and beat his.” (See In applying this quote to the pool of Heisman candidates, the single name that can adequately replace the name Bryant in this quote is RG III.

    2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 Total conf ranking
    Baylor 628 1,025 0 0 0 1653 1
    Wisconsin 767 0 923 829 1,056 3,575 3
    Stanford 1,311 1,314 1,583 502 0 4,710 4
    OK State 1,096 1,170 1,049 1,211 1,143 5,669 1
    Michigan 1,314 1,479 2,124 2,220 1,750 8,887 3
    Oklahoma 1,722 2,213 1,830 2,422 1,704 9,891 1
    LSU 2,224 2,255 2,581 2,134 2,695 11,889 2
    Alabama 2,632 2,308 2,786 2,836 1,789 12,351 2

  17. Josh November 28, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    and if 70 is too high, bama has played 7 top 50 defenses and 5 of the top 20. baylor has played 2 top 50 and 1 top 20 (once they play texas)

    • ccard November 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

      Posted this on another page, but it fits with all the chatter about SEC defenses. . . .

      SEC defenses? If you say how great they are enough times, maybe someone will believe it. Even ESPN over the weekend toned down its hype of the vaunted SEC defenses, asking the question: Are they good defenses or bad offenses in the SEC; the chicken or the egg?

      I’ve watched Alabama play many of their games and I think they probably do have the best defense in the country. That said, one has to consider the competition they’ve faced. Here are the offensive rankings of the teams Alabama’s faced (in order, total of 120 schools): 120, 94, 103, 28, 101, 96, 115, 102, 62, 87, NA (FCS), 104. That’s a median of 101 and an average of 92. The rest of the SEC (with the possible exception of LSU) has faced similar offensive competition.

      So is it really great defenses, awful offenses, or most likely a little bit of both? Probably a little bit of both, but this year, the SEC’s offenses really are offensive, making the defenses statistically appear better than they probably are.

      • Josh November 28, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

        yeah you can say that the defenses look good because of bad offenses, you can also say the big 12 offenses look good because of bad defense. i dont know the exact stats but i do know that most of the defenses that RG3 has faced are in the bottom of the nation (including kansas at 120). i will say that the sec is a run first league with some good running backs and only 4 of those are in the top 40 in rush yards. while the big 12 is a pass first league with good qbs and have 4 of the top 7 in yardage (of which RG3 is 4, but i know he doesn’t throw as much). so in a league where many good rbs can’t break 1000 yards due to good defense, trent is 6th in the country. and in a league where many qbs can tear up the defenses, RG3 is 4th in yards (i know yardage isn’t the only stat but it’s just an example)

        • Rational November 28, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

          You’re simply choosing the few stats that support your opinion and ignoring the vast majority of information available. Griffin’s offense averages 300 passing and 200 rushing. He has also not played in 4 fourth quarters so far this year. But you keep pushing that 6.0 yards per carry running back.

          • Josh November 28, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

            if this posts multiple times I’m sorry, my computer is being screwy.

            So since when is 6 ypc a bad stat? And there are 3 games where Richardson didn’t play in the 4th quarter and 3 others where he was taken out with 9+ min left, so that is pretty even. And not all of Baylor’s 500 ypg are his. And you say I am ignoring facts while I say that Richardson has faced more defenses that are statistically better against the run in a run oriented league than Big 12 defenses are against the pass. And these stats are irrelevant? Maybe you are ignoring irrelevant stats.

          • Josh November 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

            *Maybe you are ignoring RELEVANT stats.

            My bad

  18. John November 28, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    People might hate on RGIII for his concussion vs tech, but don’t forget he had the toughness to come back in and run a keeper on the next play for a score. They way Griffin repetedly comes back from big hits should not be overlooked in his evaluation as an outstanding athlete.

  19. Kyle November 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Forget the strength of defenses Richardson has faced. No matter how good the defense is, when a team stacks 10 in the box and there are only 8 to block, the RB has to do a lot of the work themselves. The thing with Montee Ball is that the opposing defense has to beware of the pass so they only put 7 or 8 in the box at most. Watch the games of both Richardson and Ball, you will see a distinct difference. The most important stat of the Heisman race is Trent Richardson has 1,108 yards after contact; Montee Ball has 894. I really wish voters would watch the games. They will see who is better. Its clearly Richardson over anyone else.

  20. Josh November 28, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    And one knock on RG3 is the fact that he threw a int that cost his team the Kansas St. game. I’m not saying that this is the deciding factor by any means but you can’t just throw it out. And the same with Luck having a pick-6, another int, and a fumble in their loss to oregon

    • Ben November 28, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

      RGIII’s interception didn’t cost them the game against Kansas State any more than Trent Richardson’s 3.9 yards per carry and no touchdowns cost Bama their game against LSU.

      With an average defense, Griffin’s Bears would probably be undefeated. Can the same be said for Richardson’s Tide? Absolutely not. Against ranked opponents, Baylor is 8th nationally with 38.5 points per game. Alabama is ranked 37th with 23.7 points per game against ranked opponents.

      If you take off the Tide-tinged glasses, you’ll admit that putting Griffin in a Tide uniform would make them undefeated national champions, and putting Richardson in a Baylor uniform would leave them happy to play in the Pinstripe Bowl. As for schedule, Baylor current Sagarin strength of schedule ranking is 6, Alabama’s is 23.

      Richardson is a fine running back, but Griffin is a once-in-a-generation player.

      • Kyle November 29, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

        Not to be on Richardson’s bandwagon on my replies but don’t you think if Alabama had a decent enough kicker, Alabama would be undefeated? Alabama out gained LSU and frankly should had beat them.

    • T.Marsh November 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

      Josh, while I agree that RG3’s interception was untimely and unfortunate, you can’t say that RG3 cost Baylor the game. RG3 went 23/31 for 346 yds, 5 TDs and that 1 big interception. Keep in mind, RG3 was hit by his own teammate (BU’s RB was pushed backwards into RG3) as he threw that interception. While it’s still a costly turnover, it was more a product of good D than an errant throw or a QB misread.

      Prior to that, however, RG3 led his team to a 9 pt lead going into the 4Q (on the road in a hostile environment) before BU coaches went conservative, putting the reins on the productive vertical passing game in favor of milking the clock with an ineffective ground against a good rush defense. Oh, and, BU also missed a FG to extend the 4Q lead to 12 pts; but, then again, Bama fans know all too well about how missed FGs can affect the outcome of a game. While RG3 didn’t produce a TCU/OU highlight reel comeback, BU’s conservative play calling and subpar D/STs contributed more to the loss than RG3’s only blemish on an otherwise remarkable performance.

      However, to be fair, RG3 probably shouldn’t have had Heisman-worthy comeback performances against TCU or OU either. BU had 47-23 and 38-24 4Q leads, respectively, before conservative play calling and subpar D/STs again contributed to closer-than-should-have-been outcomes.

      If Heisman is given to the best player on the best team, TR should probably win. According to the Heisman Mission Statement, however: “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.” Given this purpose, and with no disrespect to the other candidates, I believe RG3 is most deserving.

      • Josh November 29, 2011 at 11:24 am #

        How does that mission statement make RG3 most deserving? Does this mean RG3 is the only Heisman contender with integrity, diligence, perseverance, or hard work? And the Heisman is the award known for going the best player in college football that year, which you just admitted that Richardson is the best player.

        • Ben November 29, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

          Josh. I think you have misunderstood T.Marsh’s point when you said he admitted that Richardson was “the best player.” RIchardson is on a better team, but he is not a better player than Griffin, and it is not a knock on Richardson to say it. Most often the Heisman doesn’t go to the best [i]player[/i] in college football, but the [i]best team’s best player[/i]–or the best player on one of the top two or three teams, even though the award is supposed to be an individual award. As for “perseverance and diligence,” did Richardson come back after ACL surgery to put up the kind of eye-popping numbers that Griffin has? Richardson probably deserves the Doak Walker Award, although Wisconsin’s Montee Ball can make a good case, too. Griffin, meanwhile, deserves the Heisman.

  21. Arce November 29, 2011 at 4:14 am #

    The thing about RGIII that makes him deserving of the award is that he is the nicest guy in the race. Humble; hard working; supportive of his team members; a cheer leader for the team when on the sidelines, between games, and in the media; coaching his backup and other O players during the game. Consistently involved in charity activities. When asked about the Heisman, always says that what is important to him is how the team does in the game, not some individual award.

  22. Billy November 29, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    It’s pretty obvious this guy is a Luck homer and that is how he will cast his vote. Luck deserves to be drafted high but I’m not sure what awards he deserves. RG3 is lb for lb the best qb in the nation putting up better stats than Luck even in losing contests. Richardson is lb for lb the best running back and you can’t go off total defense for a rb… You go off rushing defense. Trent has faced 5 of the top rushing defenses in the nation. Luck has struggled against a myriad of opponents this year. He is a great qb but he needs to face real competition and his team just hasn’t seen any. Those are the top three candidates no matter how you slice it. You really need to do your homework before you write your cons next time. And no one outside of Wisconsin and Texas will vote for Ball or Keenum.

    • ccard November 29, 2011 at 6:34 am #

      According to the USA Today/Sagarin ratings, Stanford has played and beaten more top 30 teams than Alabama has, , , ,

      • Josh November 29, 2011 at 11:30 am #

        True, Stanford has played 4 top 30 and beat 3 of those. Alabama has played 3 top 30 and beaten 2 of those.

        But, many Alabama opponents barely missed that cut. Alabama has played 7 top 40 teams and beaten 6 of those while Stanford has played 5 top 40 teams and beaten 4. And that stat isn’t much different than yours

  23. Josh November 29, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    So the only point I’m trying to make is caliber of defense. That doesn’t mean that RG3 doesn’t deserve it, I’m just saying it should be looked at for all the people voting. The number of points Baylor scores against offensively based ranked teams vs. the number of points Bama puts up against defensively based ranked teams shouldn’t matter either. And like I said, SOS is more of a deciding factor for teams, not heisman contenders. I would prefer to look at defenses that the offensive players went up agianst. These are the only points I’m trying to make. And to say Richardson would not help Baylor do any better than they have in the past years is silly, you can never know how he would run against those defenses or in that system. Same for RG3 in Bama’s system. Finally, all of these heisman guys are great people and say the reward is because of the guys around them.

    Anyway, I’m not going to throw a fit if RG3 wins, I’m just trying to make a SINGLE point to help Richardson’s case.

    • Goose November 29, 2011 at 8:57 am #

      It’s not that Richardson did so poorly against LSU in a loss. He did it on his HOME FIELD.

      • Josh November 29, 2011 at 11:03 am #

        How does home field make a difference when you’re facing a top 2 defense? I don’t think LSU’s defense played any worse because they were at BD. And how is getting 169 total offense against a team that gives up less than 250 yards a game? I’d say if it wasn’t for Richardson, Bama wouldn’t even have a chance to win that game without him. I don’t understand how Richardson did poorly in that game.

    • Bama Bruiser December 2, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

      You keep talking about these amazing defenses, yet they’re 2-1 against currently ranked teams. Baylor is 3-2, with both losses on the road to Top 11 teams, and will move to 4-2 if they beat Texas (though Texas may leave the rankings). The SEC is strong, but Bama didn’t play Georgia or South Carolina.

      For all this talk about Richardson not playing in 4th quarters, Griffin has missed two halves. One due to the head injury, and another against Stephen F. Austin due to lightning, when he only threw for 20 yards in the second half before the game was called. Those stats through the equivalent of 10 games? Compared to Luck’s through 12?

      Richardson gets the bulk of the Tide’s carries and has 1,583 yards and 20 touchdowns. Baylor’s 2 primary runners have 1807 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. 1/3 of those yards and 1/3 of those touchdowns? Robert Griffin the Third.

  24. Tyler November 29, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Full disclosure: I’m a Bama fan, and thus would love to see Trent win. That said, if RG3 or Ball wins, I won’t argue one bit; they are certainly deserving. The problem I have is twofold.

    First, since when did receiving stats not count for a running back? If that’s the case, then 5 of Ball’s touchdowns don’t count. Like I said, though, if Ball wins, I won’t argue. The same can be said about RG3’s rushing stats; if we can’t count running back’s receiving, we can’t count his rushing. I also won’t argue if he wins, however.

    My second problem is I think Luck is only in discussion because he was there before the season ever started. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great QB and will be the first pick in the draft, but that does not a Heisman winner make. If we are going off of this season, Griffin, Keenum, and arguably Matt Barkley have been better. I just don’t think Luck has done enough this year to put himself in contention if he hadn’t been fed down our throats before the season.

  25. Johnny Unitas December 1, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Seriously? For Richardson, all-purpose yards don’t count against LSU? It’s not like he was returning kicks.. he was catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s not the coach or the QB.. he has to run the plays that are called…. and the last time I checked, defenses didn’t let running backs just go by them because it was a quick pass instead of a handoff….

    I’m pretty sure if you take any QB’s # and subtract all the yards AFTER-THE-CATCH, we wouldn’t see nearly the gaudy stats… right?

    So why does a RB’s receiving yards “change the criteria”?

    The only one losing an argument is you… the argument for being a credible sportswriter!

  26. I_come_anon December 2, 2011 at 12:02 am #


  27. Ryan December 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    I know Luck is the media darling since the season even started – but please someone who is voting for him tell me what he has done that is better than Robert Griffin III of Baylor.

    RGIII has a much higher strength of schedule – has played 5 top 25 BCS teams to Luck’s 2.
    More passing yards
    More touchdowns
    Less interceptions
    More Rushing yards
    More rushing TD’s

    Much more high profile plays on national TV
    Beat a # 5 OU team in epic fashion

    Luck – lost his one big game.

    There is no stat that Luck has that is better than Robert Griffin this year – please vote on this year – not Luck’s project NFL draft status.

    • Brad December 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

      how about Luck’s Winning %? 1 loss to 3 Griffin losses… The most important statistic

      • Bama Bruiser December 3, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

        Um, no. An offensive player shouldn’t be penalized because his team’s defense isn’t good. Stanford allows 27.5 points per game against FCS opponents. Baylor allows 44.2.

        at #3 Oklahoma State
        425 yards passing, 1 TD, 2 INT
        27 yards rushing, 1 TD

        at #11 Kansas State (Baylor missed a field goal, lost by 1)
        346 yards passing, 5 TD, 1 INT
        6 yards rushing (team had 83)

        at then-#21 Texas A&M
        430 yards passing, 3TD, 1 INT
        15 yards rushing

        Better stats than Luck in every category, and he’s not playing behind with an NFL offensive line.