It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good ol’ back ‘n forth with someone from another website.
Sean Stires of Irish Sports Daily put up an excellent post yesterday comparing Manti Te’o and Johnny Manziel in the context of The 10 Heismandments and I thought it’d be worthwhile to respond in kind.
In essence, Sean argues that Te’o has the advantage in six Heismandment categories, while Manziel leads in two and two others are a push.
I’m going to have to disagree on his overall analysis and here’s why:
– Let’s first start by hearkening back a little bit to Sunday school. I believe it was at the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus was asked which of the 10 commandments given to Moses were the most important to follow. Jesus basically distilled the commandments down to two, with the first two original commandments being the central basis for his overall point (I apologize if this theology is shoddy, but I’m only trying to make an analogy). My point is that the early Heismandments are somewhat more important than the later Heismandments. While I’ve never stressed that explicitly, I believe it is implicit in the ordering of the rules.
– That all said, I can’t stress enough the centrality of the first Heismandment, which states that the winner must be a quarterback, a running back or a multi-purpose athlete. This is a HUGE obstacle to Te’o winning the Heisman as it serves to undermine him with regards to some of the other Heismandments.
– Obviously, Manziel is at a disadvantage with Heismandment No. 2 (the class rule), but as we’ve seen in recent years, this appears to be the weakest of the bunch and is on tap to be amended (it has already been amended once, after Tim Tebow won in 2007). Whatever advantage Te’o gains from this Heismandment, he more than gives away with his huge weakness with regards to the first.
– I disagree with giving Te’o the advantage with Heismandment No. 3. This is obviously a judgement call, but these days almost every game is on television and Manziel has fared quite well. But this ignores a more important factor, which hearkens back to the first Heismandment: As a defensive player, Te’o is not the focus of the television camera the way Manziel (or any quarterback) is on EVERY offensive play. Te’o can make a tackle at the bottom of a pile and the announcer might well be talking about something else. Manziel completes a pass and it is highlighted, with his stats instantly refreshed for all to see. The point being, offensive and defensive production are not equal in voters’ eyes, especially when they can’t observe both equally on the TV screen.
– I agree that Te’o had better name recognition (Heismandment No. 4) than Manziel heading into the season. But this was ground that was quickly made up as soon as the ‘Johnny Football’ nickname came into being. This is an edge for Te’o, but as a practical matter, it’s not much of a help to his campaign.
– Manziel gets the nod on Heismandment No. 5 by virtue of the fact that Manziel’s record-breaking numbers (4,600 yards of total offense, 43 touchdowns) are far ahead of any other credible competitor in the race, including Te’o's. The fact that Te’o plays defense weakens his status as the top player on a traditional power (in the end, it all really comes back to the first Heismandment).
– Even though Texas A&M has a system (Heismandment No. 6), Manziel is not perceived as its obvious byproduct. Kevin Sumlin didn’t even offer Manziel out of high school because he didn’t consider him a good fit. On the contrary, Manziel’s production is very different than previous Sumlin quarterbacks — none of them were dual threats to the extent that he has been so far. In this context, he appears to be transcending the system. Whatever the case, this does not apply to either candidate.
– I agree that Manziel’s has the advantage with Heismandment No. 8 and that Heismandment’s No. 7 and No. 9 are pushes.
– With Heismandment No. 10 I give the edge to Te’o. But this Heismandment is really only a factor if a player is generally perceived as NOT likeable. Since neither candidate is really perceived that way, the benefit from Te’o's advantage is slight, if a factor at all.
In the end, I have the count as such: Manziel – 3, Te’o – 3, Push — 4. But Manziel has the advantage in three of the first five Heismandments, which tend to be the most important.
Manziel’s advantages are that he is a quarterback on a good team with incredible single-season offensive numbers that are well ahead of his competitors and he has proven his case in big games on television. His main disadvantages are that he is a freshman who was an unknown quantity heading into the season.
Te’o's advantages are that he is a senior player on a traditional power competing for the national title, he’s a known quantity and he’s likeable. His main disadvantage is that he plays defense and therefore the value to his team is more difficult to quantify than that of an offensive player.
This doesn’t point to a landslide win by Manziel by any means, but it points to a solid win. No one has ever bucked the first Heismandment to this point, I’m afraid. If anyone can do it, maybe it’s Te’o, but I’m afraid it’s going to live to see another day.