Pre-Heisman press conference highlights

photo (42)

The annual pre-Heisman press conference in New York City got a little awkward on Friday afternoon as Florida State handlers temporarily cut off quarterback Jameis Winston from fielding questions after the Heismn favorite received a couple queries related to the aftermath of the investigation into his alleged involvement in a sexual assault case.

When asked about what he had learned from the experience of being accused — but ultimately not charged — with a serious felony, Winston answered “It was stressful, but I’ve got to look forward. There’s a lot to learn from it. I’m focused on the future. I love my college experience.”

Another reporter asked Winston to elaborate and that’s when Seminoles associate sports information director Kerwin Lonzo sternly interjected that “(Winston’s) only talking about football and the Heisman.”

After one more reporter asked a tangential question, Lonzo interrupted again: “Next question,” he said.

The exchange caused some consternation among the assembled media.

To Lonzo’s credit, he brought Winston back to face media again and the freshman did a great job handling the spotlight. About the investigation he said: “I knew I could respect the process and I’d eventually be vindicated.”

Other than those awkward moments with Winston, the rest of the event went off without a hitch. Here’s five of the six candidates with the Heisman:

photo (43)

Some more highlights:

– When asked about his goals as a two-sport star (he also plays baseball for FSU) Winston said “I want to be better than Bo Jackson, hopefully.”

– Winston got some advice from Johnny Manziel, who also won the award as a redshirt freshman. “He told me to just enjoy the moment. That’s what I’m going to do.”

– Boston College running back Andre Williams had 1,532 rushing yards in his first three seasons and 2,102 yards as a senior. Why the sudden transformation as a senior?

“This year I embraced who I am as a runner,” said Williams. “I played at a heavier weight than in the past. I wasn’t worried about shaking people. I just did what I do best, which is to be a physical, downhill back.”

Tre Mason said that new Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has instilled a never-say-die spirit with the Tigers. “Everyone on the team believes the game isn’t over until it’s over,” Mason said. “You’ve seen the crazy games we’ve had this year. No one quits until the game is over.”

Johnny Manziel wasn’t saying whether he plans to go pro, but he perked up at the idea of playing for either Houston or Dallas. “For now, I’m strictly focused on the bowl game. Things will take care of themselves in Janary,” he said of the NFL. talk. “But I love Texas. Just being in Texas would be incredible.”

– Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch: “Being here is a dream come true. It’s kind  of surreal. I just know I’m here with the best.” Later, he added: “This is awesome, but I would trade it all to get that MAC championship victory,” referring to his team’s upset at the hands of Bowling Green.

Lynch was confident about his future: “I think my skill will pay off in the NFL. I don’t think I can run the ball 290 times, but I’m sure I could carry it 100 times or so.”

– Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron was not at the press conference since he was not yet in town due to the Unitas Award ceremony. He’ll be here in time for Saturday’s big event.

photo 1

Comments { 0 }

Texas A&M and the Heisman

john david crow

Continuing our series before the Heisman ceremony, here’s a look at the Heisman history of Texas A&M.

Texas A&M

Finalists: John David Crow (1957), Johnny Manziel (2012), Johnny Manziel (2013)

Player Year Position Place Points Winner
John Kimbrough 1940 RB 2nd 841 Tom Harmon
John David Crow 1957 RB 1st 1,183 Crow
Darren Lewis 1990 RB 8th 31 Ty Detmer
Bucky Richardson 1991 QB 10th 45 Desmond Howard
Johnny Manziel 2012 QB 1st 2,029 Manziel

 

The first Aggie to show up in the Heisman vote was running back John Kimbrough, who finished second to Tom Harmon in 1940. There wasn’t another A&M player in the final tally until running back John David Crow won the trophy in 1957 under coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant.

Crow was one of the legendary players of the 1950s. He won the trophy despite missing almost three full games that year. He rushed for 562 yards and six touchdowns, caught two passes and threw five touchdown passes. On defense, he had five interceptions. He won the Heisman handily over Alex Karras of Iowa and Walter Kowalczyk of Michigan State. Crow was the only player to win a Heisman for Bryant.

Texas A&M didn’t have a player place in the Heisman vote again until 1990, when tailback Darren Lewis tied for eighth after rushing for 1,795 yards and 20 touchdowns. The next year, dual-threat quarterback Bucky Richardson finished 10th.

No Aggies were a factor in the Heisman again until Johnny Manziel came along. He had a fantastic season as a redshirt freshman, leading A&M to an 11-2 record in their first season in the SEC. He ended the year with over 5,000 yards of total offense and 47 touchdowns. He won the Heisman over Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o by winning five of the six voting regions, making history by becoming the first freshman to the award.

Comments { 0 }

How will the Heisman regions fall?

The best way to get an understanding of the how the Heisman vote will look is to do a break down of the six voting regions.

BallotingRegions

 

Each region has 145 media members with a Heisman vote . There are also 57 former Heisman winners who each have a vote and they are scattered across the regions (there is also one fan vote that is done via online voting). The maximum point total a player can receive from a region via media votes only is 435. There are 870 total media points available in each region (ironic, since that is the total number of media who are eligible to vote).

Here’s how I think each region will fall:

SOUTH

1. Winston

2. Mason

3. McCarron

4. Manziel

5. Lynch

Comment: This will be an interesting battle. Mason and McCarron should get the largest chunk of their total support in the South and though he will win his home region, it could be Winston’s smallest margin of victory because of the presence of so many other players based there. Still, look for the FSU quarterback to get in the neighborhood of 300-320 points in the South. I expect Mason to get around 250, McCarron to get around 150 and for Manziel to get about 100.

SOUTHWEST

1. Winston

2. Manziel

3. Bryce Petty

4. Mason

5. McCarron

Comment: This should be Manziel’s strongest region and some support will show up for Bryce Petty of Baylor as well, but Winston should win this region comfortably, with something like 360-380 points.

FAR WEST

1. Winston

2. Lynch

3. Marcus Mariota

4. Derek Carr

5. Ka’Deem Carey

Comment: This is the most mysterious of the regions this year. Winston will win it handily, but the order of the four I have listed below him could be totally off. Keep in mind that this region snakes all the way over to the Dakotas and is generally the least provincial of the regions. However, my thoughts are that since this region is home to the Mountain West and formerly the WAC, a lot of voters could be amenable to a non-BCS candidate like Lynch, not to mention Fresno State’s Derek Carr. I expect Marcus Mariota to do very well among Oregon and Hawaii voters, which should boost his totals, though I would not be surprised if Carr nudged ahead of him. Winston’s total should be in the 380-400 range.

MIDWEST

1. Winston

2. Lynch

3. Braxton Miller

4. Williams

5. Manziel

Comment: This will be Lynch’s strongest region and I expect Braxton Miller to do well among the large contingent of Ohio voters. I have Williams fourth here because he seems to fit the mold of a traditional Big Ten power back, which I think will appeal to some voters. Winston’s total here should be in the 340 – 360 range, with Lynch at 260 – 280.

MID-ATLANTIC

1. Winston

2. Williams

3. Mason

4. McCarron

5. Connor Shaw

Comment: This will be Winston’s strongest region and he should surpass 400 points. Williams is from the region as well so he’ll be a distant second to Winston but well ahead of whoever finishes third. I expect a smattering of votes for Connor Shaw among South Carolina voters.

NORTHEAST

1. Winston

2. Williams

3. Mason

4. McCarron

5. Lynch

Comment: This region rarely has a favorite son to vote for, but things are different this year. Williams will have his strongest finish in the Northeast — somewhere in the 250 point range — though Winston will still win solidly. This region tends to like the late-breaking, trendy candidate so I expect Mason to appear on some ballots, too. Winston’s total points should be in the 340 – 360 range.

Final thoughts: This all points to a healthy landslide for Winston, since based on media votes alone he should top 2,100 points.  The other finalists look like they’ll be hovering in the 400 point range. There is still the matter of the 57 living Heisman winners and how they will vote and I expect Winston will pick up another 120 or so points there (I’ll break down that voter bloc tomorrow).

I’ll have my final point total projections for the race tomorrow as well.

Comments { 0 }

Northern Illinois and the Heisman

jordan lynch

Continuing our series before the Heisman ceremony, here’s a look at the brief Heisman history of Northern Illinois.

Northern Illinois

Finalists: Jordan Lynch (2013)

Player Year Position Place Points Winner
LeShon Johnson 1993 RB 6th 176 Charlie Ward
Jordan Lynch 2012 QB 7th 52 Johnny Manziel

 

NIU’s lone foray into the Heisman universe before Jordan Lynch came along happened back in 1993, when running back LeShon Johnson finished sixth in the voting. Johnson led the nation in rushing that year with 1,976 yards and 12 touchdowns. He appeared 115 ballots and collected five first-place votes and 176 total points to finish a shade behind fifth-place Glenn Foley of Boston College (180 points). Charlie Ward ran away with the trophy that year and the third finalist, David Palmer of Alabama, totaled just 292 points, so Johnson was decently close to getting to New York. His best region was the Midwest, naturally, where he finished third.

One other Huskie running back, Garrett Wolfe, flirted with the Heisman top 10 during the 2006 season, but did not actually end up there.

And now we have Jordan Lynch, who finished seventh in the Heisman in 2012 and who has a chance to notch the best-ever finish by a non-BCS-conference player in the BCS era. His 4,557 yards of total offense and 45 touchdowns are in the wheelhouse of what recent Heisman winners have produced and he’s likely to become the first-ever 2,000 passer/2,000 rusher when bowl season is over. There’s no doubt that Lynch is the greatest player in NIU history and his status as a finalist is a testament to that.

Comments { 1 }

The third No. 5

Jameis Winston will be the third Heisman winner to wear No. 5.

The other two are Paul Hornung of Notre Dame, who won the award in 1956 — the only player to win the Heisman on a losing team — and Reggie Bush, who won in 2005 before having his award vacated in 2010.

The numbers with the most Heismans?  That’d be 14 and 20, each with five.

Comments { 0 }

Boston College and the Heisman

 doug flutie

The Heisman presentation is approaching, so let’s have a look at the Heisman history of each school involved in this year’s ceremony. First up is Boston College.

Boston College

Finalists: Andre Williams (2013), Doug Flutie (1984), Doug Flutie (1983)

Player Year Position Place Points Winner
Mike Holovak 1942 FB 4th 95 Frank Sinkwich
Doug Flutie 1983 QB 3rd 253 Mike Rozier
Doug Flutie 1984 QB 1st 2,240 Flutie
Glenn Foley 1993 QB 5th 180 Charlie Ward
Matt Ryan 2007 QB 7th 63 Tim Tebow

 

Mike Holovak was an All-American fullback for the Eagles in 1942. He finished 964 points behind that year’s winner, Georgia halfback Frank Sinkwich. He was also just a few points behind third place finisher Clint Castleberry of Georgia Tech, the only freshman to finish in the top three of the vote until Herschel Walker in 1980. Holovak finished third in the East region, fifth in the South and fourth in the Southwest. Holovak served as co-captain of the Eagles’ squad that entered the final weeks of the 1942 campaign as the top-ranked college team in the country. However, on November 28 they were upset by arch-rival Holy Cross, a defeat that canceled a victory party that night at Boston’s Cocoanut Grove hotel. That worked out well as a horrendous fire swept through the building that night, killing 492 people and injuring hundreds more.

BC didn’t have another top 10 finisher until Doug Flutie appeared on the scene. As a junior in 1983, he threw for 2,724 yards with 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while leading the Eagles to a 9-3 record and a No. 19 final ranking. For that effort, he finished third behind winner Mike Rozier of Nebraska and Steve Young of BYU. He entered 1984 as the Heisman front runner and promptly snapped the streak of running back winners that dated back to 1972. He threw for 3,634 yards and 30 touchdowns with 13 interceptions and left BC as the NCAA’s all-time passing yardage leader with 10,579 yards. He is best known for his Hail Mary pass play to beat Miami in the closing seconds of a 47-45 victory.

Contrary to what some think, that play did not win him the Heisman as ballots had already been mailed in. Flutie ran away with the trophy, sweeping the six regions and totaling 2,240 points to nearly double the total of runner up Keith Byars of Ohio State. Of course, Flutie went on to a rather interesting career in both the CFL and NFL.

Glenn Foley finished fifth in 1993, the year Charlie Ward of Florida State won the Heisman. Foley did something that year that Ward could not — he beat Notre Dame.

BC’s late November upset of the No. 1 Irish allowed the Seminoles to claim the national title after falling to the Irish earlier in the season. Foley threw for 3,397 yards and 25 touchdowns that year as the Eagles finished 9-3. He totaled 180 points in the Heisman vote, with his best region being the Northeast, where he finished third.

For a stretch of the 2007 season, Matt Ryan was considered a legitimate Heisman contender. The senior quarterback had BC at 8-0 at one point, but an upset loss to FSU ended his Heisman dreams. He ended throwing for 4,507 yards and 31 touchdowns (and 19 picks) and he faded to a seventh place, well behind winner Tim Tebow of Florida. Of course, Ryan would go on to become a first-round draft pick and a two-time Pro Bowler for the Atlanta Falcons.

Williams is his school’s first Heisman finalist since Flutie in 1984. He rushed for 2,102 yards, scored 17 touchdowns, and averaged 6.4 yards per carry. He is the first Eagle to ever surpass the 2,000 yard rushing mark and set the school record for most yards rushed in a game with 339 yards against North Carolina State. Williams accounted for 51% of BC’s offense this season and has the most rushing yards in all of Division I College Football for the 2013 season.

Comments { 0 }

The top 10 Heisman moments of 2013

jameis winston

With the six finalists named and Heisman week upon us, it’s time to look back at how we got here.

There were a lot of twists and turns in this year’s race. Here are the 10 most important Heisman moments of 2013:

#10 — Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville upset by UCF

A hot start helped Bridgewater jump to the top of the Sept. 10 edition of the HeismanPundit Straw Poll, but the Cardinals blew a 28-7 third quarter lead against UCF and lost, 38-35, in mid-October. With Louisville’s weak schedule, Bridgewater could not afford a loss and, despite a stellar season, his candidacy never recovered from this upset.

#9 — Bryce Petty and Baylor get crushed by Oklahoma State

It was all there for the taking for Baylor and its star quarterback, Bryce Petty. A possible BCS title berth. A Heisman Trophy. All the Bears had to do was beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater for the first time since 1939. The late-November showdown was cold and dreary and not amenable to the Baylor offense, which produced its worst showing of the season in a 49-17 drubbing. The general drop-off by Petty in November was accentuated by his out-of-this-world September and October, which probably set expectations too high for Heisman observers.

#8 — Jordan Lynch sets the NCAA quarterback rushing record…twice

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch was the only player to rush for over 300 yards twice this season. Each time, he broke the NCAA record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback. His last time was a 321-yard effort against Western Michigan that probably assured he would become a Heisman finalist and, potentially, log the highest non-BCS-conference Heisman finish of the BCS era.

#7 — Andre Williams tops the 2,000-yard rushing mark

One week after rolling for an FBS-season-best 339 yards against North Carolina State, Boston College running back Andre Williams became the 16th player to top the 2,000-yard rushing mark by rushing for 263 yards against Maryland. One week later, he became the ninth player to surpass 2,100 rushing yards. The feat propelled him into the thick of the Heisman race, but a shoulder injury in his final game against Syracuse sapped whatever late-season momentum he had.

#6 — Tre Mason rolls for 304 yards and four touchdowns against Missouri in SEC title game

Tre Mason vaulted himself to New York as a Heisman finalist on the strength of his 46-carry, 304-yard, 4-touchdown performance in Auburn’s 59-42 victory over Missouri in the SEC title game. With one fell swoop, he overcame a season’s-worth of relative anonymity to become a late-breaking Heisman candidate. Doesn’t happen like that very often.

#5 — Johnny Manziel launches furious comeback against No. 1 Alabama

The most anticipated matchup of the early part of the season saw the defending Heisman winner rip the vaunted Alabama defense for 562 total yards and five touchdowns. Manziel led his team to 21 fourth quarter points, including a 95-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mike Evans. It wasn’t enough. Alabama won, 49-42. But Johnny Football showed he was back…and better than ever.

#4 – Winston inserts himself into the upper echelon of candidates as Florida State obliterates Clemson

Jameis Winston threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns as No. 5 Florida State destroyed No. 3 Clemson, 51-14. This game established Winston as a legitimate Heisman candidate and moved him into second in the HeismanPundit Straw Poll. He wouldn’t stay there very long.

#3 — Braxton  Miller hurts knee, misses almost three full games

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was the front runner for the Heisman heading into the season, but he hurt his knee in week two during the first series of the Buckeyes’ game against San Diego State and was forced to sit out the next two contests. No Heisman winner has ever missed that many games, so Miller was basically done as a serious candidate. His late-season production showed the potential of his candidacy, however, and it’s likely that if he had stayed healthy all season, his name would be the one announced on the podium in New York on Saturday.

#2 — Marcus Mariota drops the ball against Stanford

Marcus Mariota of Oregon was the front runner in the race from mid-October until early November. His numbers were extraordinary and, following good performances against ranked UCLA and Washington teams, he looked capable of running away with the Heisman. All he had to do was get by nemesis Stanford — which owned a victory over the Ducks from the prior season — and he’d be home free. The Thursday night matchup of top five teams quickly turned into a nightmare for Mariota and his team. Oregon fell behind 26-0 and Mariota looked shaky, at one point fumbling the ball away in Stanford territory. He led a furious rally to make the score respectable but the damage was done. The Ducks never really recovered psychologically from that loss and they dropped another game in embarrassing fashion to Arizona two weeks later. Despite his stellar numbers, Mariota — who was playing with a sprained knee, as it turns out — dropped off the Heisman radar.

#1 — Willie Meggs decides not to press charges against Jameis Winston

The news that Jameis Winston was under investigation for an alleged rape came out on Nov. 13 and, for the next three weeks, the race was in a state of limbo. Some Heisman voters recoiled at the idea of voting for a player who might be charged with rape. Others wanted to wait to see if more information came out before making a decision. Still others gave him the benefit of the doubt and defended Winston’s right to be presumed innocent. Looming over everything was the seriousness of a matter involving the lives of two young adults, which made the whole business of the Heisman seem rather trivial by comparison. Nonetheless, if Winston had been charged, or if the the matter was not adequately resolved before Heisman ballots were due, we would today be looking at a radically different Heisman race and, potentially, a nightmare of a Heisman ceremony. Instead, Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs held a press conference on Dec. 5 announcing that Winston would not be charged with a crime. Among the byproducts of that decision was that it cleared the way for voters to pick Winston without the stench of controversy hanging over their decision. As a result, he’s on his way to a landslide victory on Saturday.

 

Comments { 0 }