This Heisman race has taken a backseat to the backlash the BCS is taking. I am holding my vote until the last second; as a matter of fact, I am taking advantage of the online voting option. For me, Jason White was the leading candidate heading into the Big 12 championship game. OU's unbeaten record was the tilting factor for me. So, when OU went down, so did White in my vote.
I mention these four players but have a lot of admiration for the performances of others, too. Matt Leinart of USC has set up himself for a run at the award next year. Chris Perry showed lots of courage on the field. Mark Clayton of the Sooners is the second-best wide receiver in the country. Clayton does so much more than just catching the ball.
Here's how I think the vote will go on Saturday.
1st: Jason White
2nd: Larry Fitzgerald
3rd: Eli Manning
Good luck to these young men.
Pros: In a nutshell, where would Mississippi have finished if not for Manning? Not 9-3 and ranked 15th in my Yahoo! Sports poll. Manning was able to lead the Rebels through the tough SEC with HUGE wins at Florida and Auburn, and home W's over Alabama, Arkansas and South Carolina. Plus, they lost only 17-14 to LSU, a team playing for the national championship. He had big-time stats this year (3,341 yards, 27 touchdowns), and he just picked up the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award.
Cons: Of the top candidates, only Manning was mentioned in the preseason hype. And that hype was only a one-way street. Manning's family didn't openly ask for the publicity. Yet it never seemed like the national media really ever took hold of what Ole Miss was doing on the field behind Manning.
Pros: This guy's the best wide receiver in America – and this is a year with loads of good wideouts. Fitzgerald makes the adjustment to the ball while in the air as well as most guys already playing on Sunday – matter of fact, better than most of the paid guys! Fitzgerald was the main man for the Panthers. He has caught a TD in a record 18 straight games dating back to last year.
Cons: Pittsburgh lost probably one more game than it should have. And the one I'm talking about is Notre Dame. That game was televised to much of the nation, and Fitzgerald had a chance to really jump out front. Also, the Miami loss – in which Fitzgerald was a non-factor – didn't help.
Pros: This was the leader of a team loaded with more talent than anybody else in the country. White put up awesome numbers, 40 TD passes to only eight interceptions. White's success allowed the rest of the team to do its thing. I've heard how White's not even the best player on Oklahoma. Well, I've seen many talented teams not win because their QB was average. White sports a 12-1 record in maybe the toughest conference in America.
Cons: Unfortunately for White, OU had to play in a conference championship game. That added pressure nailed the Sooners and might have nailed White's Heisman.
Pros: The reason Kansas State beat OU was because this little man ran wild on the Sooners. Sproles made OU's VERY talented defense look average. I couldn't believe it – still don't. For the year, Sproles led the nation in rushing with 1,948 yards. Wow, and he had only 26 total carries early in the season against two weak opponents, Troy State and McNeese State. Not only can he run but he can catch, too.
Cons: I'm not sure the nation knew who Sproles is. Yeah, a lot do after the OU game, but he didn't get the midseason ink he needed. And, more importantly, Chris Perry at Michigan is at a bigger school, and Perry has got more oomph going for him. Matter of fact, Perry is invited to New York for the presentation and Sproles isn't. Sproles outrushed Perry by nearly 400 yards! Go figure.
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