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  • Hawaiian-Flavored Shake?

    by Mike Coffey

    The college football season is a marathon and not a sprint. Along the way, some obstacles spring into your path while others get moved aside. Sometimes that movement is within your control, other times not. All you can do is hope for an even playing field and that you’re there at the end.

    So too are the tertiary aspects of the season like awards. Players pop up and fall down along the way. But you’d hope the consistent performance would be rewarded and not fall as a casualty to the bling-bling of highlight reels.

    You’d hope.

    Last weekend, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner had eye-catching performances on offense. McCarron led the Crimson Tide to a come-from-behind win over LSU, while Barner ran roughshod over an SC defensive squad who apparently missed the bus to the game. These achievements led CBS’ Sports’ Chris Huston to wonder if the pair could shake up the Heisman race.

    Huston’s conclusion seems to be “not at the moment”, noting both players would need to continue to provide quality performances while hoping Kansas State QB Collin Klein somehow slips. That certainly seems logical. Klein has played well all season, and also plays McCarron’s position with numbers just as good or better.

    But where’s Manti Te’o?

    I’ll tell you where — buried in the third-to-last paragraph in a note that predicts he’ll “do well in the Midwest [regional voting].”

    That’s an absolute crock, but it’s illustrative of the uphill climb our favorite Samoan Sackmaster has if he’s going to become Notre Dame’s eighth Heisman Trophy winner.

    The Butkus and Bednarik folks no doubt already are engraving Te’o’s name on their trophies, and rightfully so. No one on the defensive side of the ball has what Te’o has this year, either on or off the field, and it is right and just that he’ll become the first Domer to have his name on either one.

    But why should it stop there?

    According to the Heisman Trophy website, the award supposedly is given to “an individual designated as the outstanding college football player in the United States.” I don’t claim to be the best reader in the world, but nowhere in that sentence did I see the words “on the offensive side of the ball”. No, Te’o isn’t spiking the ball in the endzone or running up passing yards against overmatched cow colleges. But why can’t the leader of one of the best defenses in the nation who is 4th in interceptions per game and 25th in tackles get stronger consideration for this award, especially when you consider his off-the-field story is as antithetical to the current college-football-as-cesspool as you’ll find today?

    Fortunately for Te’o, other members of the Fourth Estate see this logic as well, like Mike Hiserman and Joseph Goodman. Even Doug Flutie can see the light.

    Unfortunately for Te’o — and perhaps even more unfortunately for Boston College and Wake Forest — that may not be enough. And if it isn’t, it’s a damn shame. If it isn’t, then we’ve officially elevated sizzle over steak. If it isn’t, the Heisman folks may as well change their website to say “an individual with the gaudiest ESPN highlights” and call it a day.

    As I noted yesterday, two should-be-bloodbath games await on the schedule before the trip to Los Angeles. The other 21 players on the defensive two-deep need to remember what’s at stake for their Fearless Leader. No half-assery, no “this’ll be easy”, no lack of focus. Bomb these two weak sisters back to the stone age with outstanding defensive performances. Then maybe, for once, the Heisman Trophy won as a result of performance in the ND/SC game will go our way.

    11 Responses to “Hawaiian-Flavored Shake?”

    1. By all definitions Manti is one of the Nations top players and deserving of serious consideration for the Heisman. But like defensive only players before him, most recently Ndamukong Suh who had a highlight reel senior season, and Tyran Mathieu (Honey Badger) who also was a highlight reel…Manti is an unlikely winner.

      It however will not diminish what he has done on and off the field should he not win. Manti is one of the great players in college football and will be a 1st team AA, and a multiple award winner along with a 1st round draft pick.

    2. I welcome McCarron and Barner to the race. The Klien vs. Teo two man race was probably unwinnable for Teo. But if three offensive players from different regions split the tradition vote, it might be enough for Teo to squeeze through. Obviously he needs to play well the last three weeks.

    3. Both BCS glory and the Heisman are beauty contests. To quote Kramer — poise counts. Something is going to happen in the next four weeks.

    4. Mathieu was a mediocre defensive back who had a few impressive kick returns. Suh should indeed have finished higher than he did.

    5. My question is simple. If Manti Teo played for any other (BCS conference) school would his chances of Heisman votes increase , decrease, or remain the same. I hate to point the bias finger, but i have to question if being a Golden Domer is actually helping or hurting his Heisman campaign. Nevertheless I’ve never been more proud to be a fan of UND and 9-0 is a hell of a start. Go Irish!

    6. Oh come on. Not every single news article has to focus primarily on Manti. He’s had his share. It’s perfectly fine, dare I say responsible, to devote an occasional article to educate fans about some of the dark horse candidates.

    7. Panama Dave says:

      I graduated in ’98, so I remember when the heisman used to be awarded based on body of work and not who’s hot on espn sprorts center highlight reels. After the first sophomore got awarded the heisman, pandora”s box was opened. The body of work should go back into the voting factor.
      But that takes control of the Heisman race out of espn sports center.

    8. White Eagle says:

      Will Manti win the Heisman? probably not…..but remember this. ND was not ranked coming into this season. ND had the preseason toughest schedule. All the “experts” said ND would be lucky to win 6 games. ND was no longer relevent. ND has no offense. ND has no quaterback. ND can’t go to the BCS championship game with its remaining schedule. If Mr. Teo and his team mates take care of their business fate and destiny will take care of the rest. God, Country, Notre Dame.

    9. It isn’t bias against ND. No pure defensive player has ever won it. If ND was worried about him when the Heisman, they could have had him play some H-Back or something, but that isn’t what is important. He doesn’t need the Heisman, there will be plenty of other accolades and even being considered is special.

    10. composedobject4 says:

      Oregon has everyone dazzled with their flashy unis and high powered offense. The evolution of football has left defense in the dust. Hence why Manti and ND won’t get repect.

    11. Coach Irish says:

      If the award goes to the “most outstanding player”, why shouldn’t it go to a defender? Isn’t the current argument that all top teams in the BCS (save maybe Oregon) have excellent defenses? If defense is such a necessity to get into the BCS picture, It just seems fitting that the time is ripe for a defender hold up the trophy. However, the Irish need to take care of business these last three weeks. Control what you can control…