Archived Story

Don’t get ‘defensive’ over Te’o not winning the Heisman Trophy

Published 1:36pm Friday, December 14, 2012

Defense may win national championships, but in college, it always settles for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. Face the hard facts, a true defensive player will never win the Heisman, allegedly given to the nation’s most outstanding player.
Cornerback Charles Woodson won the trophy at Michigan in 1997, but Woodson also played wide receiver and returned kicks.
Truth is, the Heisman skews heavily towards players who score touchdowns.
Quarterbacks and running backs have a disproportional advantage because they touch the ball more often and they affect the game more than a defensive player.
Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M numbers were outstanding. He compiled 4,600 all-purpose yards of total offense. It did not hurt his cause when Texas A&M went into Tuscaloosa and upset then top-ranked Alabama.
No, I do not believe there is an acute bias towards defensive players. There is a structural bias, based on the presentation of the statistics.
When you read the recap of a game (even a Notre Dame game), I defy you to locate one Associated Press recap with tackle numbers of a defensive player. Most all of the defensive statistics are shrouded in mystery.
Now I will present my case for why I felt Manti Te’o was the best player in college football.
Last week, my argument received validation during the college football postseason awards week. Te’o was a candidate for eight major awards, he won seven of them.
No other player in history had won more than five. The only award he didn’t win was the Heisman, which went to Manziel, further labeling the Heisman, the sport’s top post-season honor, as a celebration of achievement for those who play offense.
Te’o has a competitive edge like no other player I can remember.
“When I heard his named announced,” Te’o said.
“I felt that burn you get, that somebody else has won. I take it as motivation to get better.”
Te’o has one remaining game in his college career. No. 1 Notre Dame has a date with No. 2 Alabama in Miami at the BCS national championship game.
If you want further proof of how tough and strong this kid is, on September 12, within a six hour period, he received notice that his grandmother had passed in Hawaii and later his girlfriend died from cancer. She was at Stanford.
He said his girlfriend, Lennay Kekau “Made me promise, when it happened, that I would stay and play.”
He has maintained a 3.50 grade-point-average and he will graduate in 3 ½ years.
The linebacker picks up seven major awards around the country, in an outstanding though emotion-filled season.
Yes, the Heisman eluded him, but make no mistake about it; Manti Te’o is arguably the best player in the game this year.
The fans of the Southeastern Conference cringe every time Notre Dame is mentioned. Alabama has a history with Notre Dame and a poor one at that.
The Crimson Tide also has a history of great defenses and superb linebackers. Like Notre Dame, the Tide has placed their fair-share of players into the NFL.
Yes, they were lucky against Pittsburgh, but they also went into Oklahoma and manhandled the Sooners. If I remember correctly, Alabama could also be considered lucky, having a bit of fortune come their way the past two seasons.
Without a few breaks, called help from other teams, they would not even be the defending national champions, nor would they be playing in the game against the Irish.
The sign should read “no wannabes allowed.”
These two teams were destined for this meeting in Miami.
Until next time.
Meyers is a college football columnist.