Tomorrow night, the Heisman Trophy will be awarded to the nation’s top college football player at a presentation ceremony in New York city. Three men are up for the award: Kansas State quarterback, Colin Klein; Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel; and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. All three are more than deserving of the prestigious award, but only one can receive it. We Couchletes have made our decision on who to endorse for the award, and that person is Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Johnny Manziel, or Johnny Football, as he’s come to be known, stuck out to us as the very best player in the game this year. He broke Cam Newton’s SEC record for total yards in a single season, a record some thought was unbreakable. He broke that record playing in two fewer games than it took Newton to set it. Manziel also became the first freshman to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a single season.
While some will hold his athletic eligibility standing as a freshman (redshirt freshman) against him (no freshman has ever won the award), we at The Couchletes think it just furthers his accomplishments. It’s astonishing that any player could put up these numbers, let alone a freshman, playing in the SEC, a conference that many say is the toughest in the nation. The numbers speak for themselves, it’s hard to make an argument that Manziel is not the most deserving of the award. That said, people are. So now that we’ve given our support to Manziel, we’ll deconstruct the rationale for giving the award to anyone else.
Arguments have been made that Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o is the most valuable player to his team. That’s not the name of this game though. The Heisman is awarded to the most outstanding player in the country. Even if we were using the ‘valuable’ definition, Manziel accounts for over 69% of his team’s offense. That screams value. Te’o is an extremely good football player, but his position hurts him. He’s certainly deserving of all the post-season defensive awards that have come his way (Bednarik Award, Butkus Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award), but it’s hard to justify a defensive player being the most outstanding player in all of the land (Charles Woodson is the only primarily defensive player to win the award. Even there, note that I said ‘primarily defensive.’ Woodson contributed to the Michigan offense as a receiver). Manziel, as quarterback, touches the ball on roughly half of all of a game’s plays. That’s impact. While Te’o tied for third in interceptions among FBS players, he was not among the top 50 in total tackles, nor was he in the top 50 in tackles for loss, sacks, forced fumbles or fumble recoveries. Sure, the decision in how ‘good’ a player is goes beyond stats, and you can argue that a good Notre Dame defensive unit around him limits some of Te’o’s numbers, but a defensive player needs to show up more in these statistical areas to warrant the Heisman nod.
As for Klein, he’s a great player, but his stats pale in comparison to Manziel’s. Competition should be factored in some as well. Klein played in the Big 12, a conference that doesn’t come close to the loaded SEC in terms of talent and overall competition. Manziel beat Alabama (ranked #1 at the time), Mississippi State (#15) and Louisiana Tech (#23). His two losses were by a combined total of seven points against LSU and Florida, two ranked teams. Klein beat Oklahoma (#6 at the time), West Virginia (#13), Texas Tech (#14) and Oklahoma State (#24). Unfortunately, he also lost to unranked Baylor in a very poor showing. With many of both quarterback’s wins over ranked teams becoming devalued as the season wore on, that Baylor loss by Klein was key to this decision because Manziel played well all season, even in losses.
Congratulations to Johnny Manziel for earning our endorsement for Heisman Trophy winner of the year. If we had money to send you a trophy for The Couchletes player of the year, Johnny, we would. But alas, we have no money for things like that, so you’ll have to be satisfied with the fact that five wannabe sportswriters chose you as the best college football player in the nation this year. Hopefully tomorrow night the Heisman Trust will agree with us and recognize you.