My Heisman vote, and why I voted for Deshaun Watson. Thoughts on this in the Daily Cavalcade of Whimsy.
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Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …
I wanted to write this column earlier, but as a Heisman voter, I wasn’t allowed to under penalty of death, or worse.
Someday, I really will put Reggie Bush into the No. 3 slot, if not higher
I despise people like me.
At least I think I do.
I despise those pompous, blowhard jerkweeds who purposefully don’t vote for an obvious first-ballot baseball Hall-of-Famer because they don’t want a Cal Ripken, Ken Griffey Jr., or Greg Maddux to be the first player to ever get 100% of the vote.
If a guy is a Hall-of-Famer, a guy is a Hall-of-Famer, and it doesn’t matter if Babe Ruth only received 95.13% of the vote.
So – to set my own dial to ultra-pretentious when it comes to this – I took a step back when I didn’t put Lamar Jackson at the top of my Heisman ballot.
Before hitting the button to make it official – for my own piece of mind – I didn’t want to think I did it because I was trying to be different, or because I felt like I wanted to make a statement. Again, I hate those people, and I didn’t want to hate myself more than I already do.
I vote for the Heisman based on 1) who the signature player of the college football regular season is, 2) MVP, 3) MOP.
Jackson was the signature star of the 2016 college football regular season. The stats were eye-popping, his performances were electrifying, and even though I picked Louisville to win the ACC and get to the College Football Playoff, his season and the Cardinals were among the most enjoyable surprises of the college football season.
But he didn’t get his team into the ACC Championship, and he didn’t get it into the College Football Playoff.
Clemson 42, Louisville 36.
Yeah, Jackson was incredible in the comeback attempt – rushing for 162 yards and two scores, and throwing for 295 yards and a touchdown – but Watson got his team out to the big lead, ran for a season-high 91 yards, and cranked out 306 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Yeah, he threw three picks, but Clemson won.
If I’m going to make the call that J.T. Barrett outplayed Baker Mayfield on the road in one of the signature and most important games of the season – more on that in a moment – then I’m sticking with my belief system that head-to-head moments matter in the Heisman race.
Yeah, Jackson ran for 1,538 yards and 21 scores, and yeah, he threw for almost 3,400 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine touchdowns, but his Cardinals lit up a whole lot of mediocre teams.
Jackson destroyed Florida State, but so did Watson.
It wasn’t Jackson’s fault that Louisville lost to Houston or Kentucky – although his turnovers against the Wildcats didn’t help – but in Clemson’s loss, Watson threw for an ACC-record 580 yards and three scores against Pitt.
Okay, okay, he also gave up three interceptions, and he threw 15 on the year, but I didn’t really have a problem with that. Considering he threw more than 100 passes than Jackson – who threw nine interceptions – I factored that into the cost of doing business.
And what happened after Clemson lost to Pitt? The Tigers caught fire, ripping up Wake Forest, South Carolina, and at least offensively, Virginia Tech in the ACC title game, with Watson continuing his roll with ten touchdown passes, two picks, and four rushing touchdowns.
What did he do in the ACC title game? He took over, and Clemson won.
Lamar Jackson wasn’t in the ACC title game.
In the end, that was it in my mind. Watson was a signature player this year, even if he wasn’t the signature player, to go along with being the MVP. Clemson is the ACC champion. Clemson is in the Fiesta Bowl and two wins away from a national title. Take Watson off the Tigers, and they’re not doing either of those things.
And take J.T. Barrett off of Ohio State, and the Buckeyes aren’t going against Watson and his Tigers in Glendale.
Stats shouldn’t matter when it comes to Barrett, but think about what he just did.
This Ohio State team lost Ezekiel Elliott, five of the top six receivers from last year, and had to revamp the offense that sputtered too often last season. Barrett had to be the conductor of the attack, and he had to be the calm, cool, steadying force in big game after big game.
On the road against Oklahoma, when the defense was rocking, he was nearly-flawless, hitting 14-of-20 passes for 152 yards and four scores.
Nothing was working against Wisconsin, but he brought the team back in the second half and pulled out the overtime win.
The passing game was dead against Michigan State and Michigan, so he ran for 105 yards against the Spartans, 125 more against the Wolverines, and got wins in both games.
The offense wasn’t working against Indiana, so it was all on him, running for 137 yards and a score on 26 carries.
He did what he had to do, even against Penn State, a not-his-fault loss.
If we got to vote on the Heisman after the bowls, like we should, he’d get my vote if Ohio State wins the national title.
But this year, when I pushed the button …
1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
2. Lamar Jackson, Louisville
3. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
D’Onta Foreman, you were right there in a No. 3A spot, but in the end, I chose the quarterbacks who made the 2016 regular season what it was, and what it was, was Ohio State and Clemson getting into the College Football Playoff because of their superstar quarterbacks.
But even with all of that said, there’s absolutely no beef that the scintillating, all-timer of a playmaker for Louisville got the Heisman.