$0.02: Tebow’s Heisman win broke a silly trend
In this year’s Heisman Trophy race we saw a refreshing concept, and it had everything to do with the parity we saw throughout the regular season. In recent years, the prevailing rule has been to deliver the trophy to the best player on the best team. See: Troy Smith, Jason White, Eric Crouch, Chris Weinke. Occasionally, and conveniently for voters, that player has also been the best player in America, as was the case with Reggie Bush in 2005 (although his Heisman could now be in serious jeopardy due to reports that he received free money while in school). But for the most part the team aspect factored too heavily into the Heisman voting.This year, however, there was no consensus “best team,” which made it impossible to determine who the best player on that team was. As a result, the race finally came down to individuals. And that’s how it should be. Tim Tebow, the winner, quarterbacked a Florida team that lost three times. Darren McFadden, runner-up for a second straight year, ran and threw and did pretty much everything else, too, for a four-loss Arkansas squad.Tebow’s a sophomore? His team couldn’t even win its conference division? So what. In a game in which the most points wins, he ran and threw for at least one touchdown in every game this season, finishing with 29 passing TDs and 22 rushing. He was the best player in college football this year. …Speaking of Heisman winners and how statistics can often make them, I revisited, on a tip from my brother, what Barry Sanders did in his 1988 Heisman season. After freshman and sophomore totals of 325 and 622 rushing yards, respectively, Sanders ran for 2,628 yards as a junior, averaging a whopping 7.6 yards a carry and scoring 37 touchdowns – all for a major college program, against major college opponents. Now that’s a Heisman. …Lest we think stats are everything, however, Vince Young is here to remind us otherwise. The Titans quarterback has thrown 7 TDs and 16 interceptions this year. His QB rating ranks a hair above Rex Grossman. And yet, his team is 7-6 and one game out of a playoff spot. …It’s hard to say Michael Vick got off easy considering he’s going to federal prison for 23 months, but at least he’ll still have a shot to make nice in public when he gets out. If he’d gone to prison for five years, the maximum he faced, his NFL career likely would’ve been over, and with it, any chance at using his athletic profile as a platform to show he’d been rehabilitated. Now, it appears he might even be back for the 2009 season (assuming there’s a team willing to give him a second shot, which I’m betting there will be), and he’ll have a chance to do everything right the next time around. …Peter Forsberg hasn’t played an NHL game this season, and according to a story I read last week by hockey writer Michael Farber, he’ll only return if he thinks his health will be good enough for him to play multiple years once he gets back on the ice. … The Patriots gained just 22 yards on nine carries while beating Pittsburgh by three touchdowns Sunday. But don’t get brainwashed to believe New England doesn’t run the ball. In fact, the Patriots are in the top half of the NFL in rushing yards per game, averaging 114 yards on 28 carries, good for 14th place among the NFL’s 32 teams.They’ve done it, however, just as they do everything offensively: with a strategy that makes it difficult to key on any one player. For instance, their leading rusher, Laurence Maroney, has 529 yards this season. That ranks him 38th in the NFL, below a number of other teams’ backups. …Also, with regard to Steelers defensive back Anthony Smith’s claim last week that he “can guarantee a win” over New England, let the sports world learn. Nobody can guarantee a win. Not Smith, not Namath, not even Tom Brady. God, yes, but as far as we know, He doesn’t play in the NFL. …In parting, Sunday marked consecutive ski day No. 1,500 for Copper Mountain resident and world record holder Rainer Hertrich. That’s more than four years without a day off.Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs on Tuesdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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