The Heisman Ballot submission deadline came and went Monday, with the 5 ceremony finalists announced during the 6 PM ET SportsCenter based on a percentage of the ballots. Amongst were the expected: Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, the NCAA's all-time winningest quarterback, and BCS #1 Alabama's Mark Ingram, fresh off an impressive 113 yards 3 TD performance were unsurprising givens. To all those that have made it a point to see him play this year, Stanford tailback Toby Gerhart can't possibly considered an unexpected invitee, but to the unfamiliar, the idea of a non-major bowl white running back getting the nod may still seem like a novelty concept (rest assured this is no Luke Staley). Nebraska all-world (eater) defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was also invited to the ceremony, likely on the strength of the countless viewers who saw him throw fellow invitee McCoy 12+ feet to the field turf in Cowboys Stadium repeatedly Saturday evening. The final invitee, now 3-time finalist Tim Tebow, becomes the latest in a long history of unspectacular moves on the part of the Heisman trust. Tebow's play in all facets (except perhaps his team's overall record) suggest little merit for possibly giving the senior even so much as lip service. None the less, these 5, the most invitees in several seasons, will make their way to New York City Saturday evening to accept arguably all of sports' most prestigious award.
We were invited this year to participate in the interwebs' second (now annual) SportsBlog Heisman Trophy, as organized by The Blue Workhorse. The ballot structure is much like that of the actual Heisman (which you, the loyal fan, had a chance to cast 1/100000000 of a vote until Monday yourself via a Toyota sponsored website) with 3 blank spaces for your candidates in order of preference, 1-3. Each slot is awarded a respective point total and the winner is divvied up by region then tabulated. Last season, the Tebow Child inexplicably escaped with the glory before his statistical superior Sam Bradford finished with the actual award (we can't have any of this anyone non-tOSU affiliated joining the 2-winner fraternity, now can we?).
Coming up with a winner in a season far more nebulous than most proved every bit the chore. In addition to the award of late not resonating with the poignancy it once did, the seemingly illogical, myopic, laziness of the balloters of the actual trophy often quell what should be great anticipation going into it. World-weariness aside, it's the freaking Heisman. Let's do this people:
3rd place: C.J. Spiller, RB/PR/KR, Clemson
Spiller, arguably the NCAAs most dynamic special teams player of all-time, wrapped up a brilliant career by nearly single handedly carrying underdog Clemson to the ACC Championship on 20 carries for a career-high 233 yards and four touchdowns against Georgia Tech. The senior averaged a mind boggling 270 all-purpose yards in four games against top-15 opposition this year. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has preemptively elected to retire Spillers #28, and despite not having the accrued halfback totals of a Gerhart or an Ingram, it'd be difficult to argue with Spiller's overall contribution to his program (and the game) in the last 4 seasons.
2nd place: Toby Gerhart, HB, Stanford
Gerhart, the sentimental favorite of many as the rare, young, white athlete with turbo athleticism and nastyness in spades, has proven to be the nation's elite skill position player this season. Accruing more than 200 yards 3-times, Gerhart helped will the Cardinal to an 8-4 mark despite running behind sub-optimally talented linemen. Gerhart was the nation's leader in touchdowns, racking up 26 scores and finishing 2nd in the Pac-10 in rushing with 144.7 yards per game. The beastmode tailback finished with an absurd 1,736 yards rushing for all of 2009. Skin color aside, few have run with the fervor and power Gerhart has in the last 2 decades of college football.
1st place: Ndamukong Suh, DT/Eater of Worlds, Nebraska
Still having doubts? Colt McCoy may be inclined to tell you otherwise:
Suh was the single most dominant player in the country (allegedly the qualifier for the award), per eye test (as demonstrated above) and defensive metrics alike. The House of Spears finished with 82 total tackles and 12 sacks to his name for his efforts in 2009. His performance in the Big XII Championship (a barbarian-like 12-tackle, 4.5-sack domination of the hapless Texas interior line) was an emphatic stamp on a season of excellence, arguably the most dominant from a defensive lineman in modern football history. While obviously institutional rattling to even suggest a non-skill position (or glamour defensive spot, as a certain defensive back/special teamer TSUN demonstrated allegedly in 1997) take the award, Suh's complete domination of the opposition for the entirety of the season yields few next best alternatives.
To keep tabs on the ever developing outcome of the actual Heisman, be sure to check Stiff Arm Trophy early and often for the latest, most accurate projections on the matter. S.A.T.'s nailed it 7 years running, though this Saturday's results may merit closer following than usual, with the traditional margin of error potentially determining who takes the trophy in a neck and neck race.