Dr. Saturday

David Shaw takes Andrew Luck’s Heisman campaign to a whole new, tedious level

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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What is the Heisman?

I know, a ridiculous question, but one that seems to generate different answers depending on who's being asked. According to the official Heisman website, "The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity."

The word "annually" is the one that tends to trip people up as they often try to sell a player's career body of work when championing them for the Heisman. Take Stanford coach David Shaw, who delivered a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation to local media this week on why Andrew Luck should win the Heisman, focused on his star quarterback's body of work over the last three years:

Yeah, this really happened. (You made it through the whole thing, right?) In it, Shaw notes Luck's success as a career starter for the Cardinal, and also says he's the only quarterback to have beaten both USC and Notre Dame in every game he's started against those schools — a perfect 6-0 over the last three years, en route to a 31-6 record overall.

The school also champions that fact in its latest YouTube promo on its quarterback's behalf, touting Luck as "The Quarterback Redefined."

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Which is all well and good. But Luck's numbers in 2011 don't stack up quite as favorably to his Heisman competitors, some of whom have played tougher schedules. Luck is behind Houston's Case Keenum, USC's Matt Barkley, Boise State's Kellen Moore and Baylor's Robert Griffin is passing yards per game and total offense. He's behind Griffin, Keenum and Moore in passing efficiency.

Of all the quarterback contenders, Griffin has played the toughest schedule, followed by Barkley, then Luck. Moore follows closely behind, but Houston's schedule is one of the worst in the country according to the Sagarin ratings, the most visible of the six BCS computer polls.

As far as intangibles, all of the quarterbacking competitors play on winning teams, though Luck's season was marred by the fact that it lost the most important game of its season — a 53-30 decision to eventual Pac-12 North champion Oregon, punctuated by a pick-six for the Ducks' final touchdown. However, what Luck brings to the table that the others don't is the ability to call his own plays and a savvy that seems to always put Stanford into the right play after reading the defense. Shaw also notes a couple other intangibles that apply to Stanford as a team.{YSP:MORE}

And that seems to be enough for some voters to keep Luck at the top of their ballots. Based on a survey of Heisman voters from each region, Stiffarmtropy.com still has Luck as the frontrunner, while Heismanpundit.com and BoDog.com both have Luck as the top quarterback, but behind Alabama running back Trent Richardson overall.

Luck has been the favorite to win the award since he announced he was returning for his junior season and hasn't really done anything to undermine that status. But in the past couple weeks the competition has gotten fierce, which has prompted Shaw and Stanford to put its campaigning into overdrive.

"We've been spoiled for three years," Shaw said. "I'm not going to compare Andrew to anybody else in the nation. From what I've seen, the guy is phenomenal. And once again, I'm not talking about just being quarterback, I'm talking about being a great football player and that's what Andrew is."

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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham.

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