The Heisman Trophy is supposed to go to the “most outstanding” player in college football. The Heisman results this year proved once and for all that there should be an asterisk next to the qualifications.
The Heisman Trophy will go to the most outstanding player on the most outstanding team. This year’s final four proved this. Here’s why:
In 1st place: WR DeVonta Smith (Alabama)
In 2nd place: QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)
In 3rd place: QB Mac Jones (Alabama)
In 4th place: QB Kyle Trask (Florida)
They got 1st Place Right
DeVonta Smith became the first wide receiver since 1991 to win the most prestigious award in college football. He totaled 105 receptions, 1,641 yards, and 20 touchdowns in the 2020 season. Besides putting up those mind-boggling video game-esque numbers, he turned the ball over 0 times and helped lead Alabama to an SEC Championship over Kyle Trask as well as propel them into the National Championship.
DeVonta Smith was the best player in college football, and he proved this week in and week out. He dominated defenses and did something no wide receiver has done in over two decades. His 447 first-place votes were deserved, and he will be a long time threat to come when he reaches the NFL.
2nd-4th is where the issues arise
If you had to pick one player out of the stats I am about to list as the “most outstanding” player who would it be?
Player 1: 4,036 Yards, 36 Touchdowns, 4 INT
Player 2: 4,283 Yards, 43 Touchdowns, 5 INT
Player 3: 2,753 Yards, 22 Touchdowns, 4 INT
A simple glance at these numbers would point to Player 2 being the clear favorite to at least be 2nd place in the voting for the Heisman. At least. Then Player 1. Then Player 3.
It (un)surprisingly went the opposite way. Player 3, Trevor Lawrence, was 2nd in the Heisman voting. Player 1, Mac Jones, was 3rd. Player 2, Kyle Trask, found himself 4th, even with his legendary numbers.
The difference between these teams was that Clemson and Alabama made the Final 4. Florida did not have that luxury.
Disregarding Trask’s performance in the Gators’ 55-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl which shouldn’t impact Heisman voting anyways, he played at an elite level the entire season. To utilize winning and losing as a key measure in this voting system implies judging Heisman contenders based on external factors out of their control.
The University of Florida had a horrendous defense throughout the year. In their regular-season losses, they put up 38 points and 34 points respectively only to lose by a field goal in both cases.
The good thing is that the best player won the award, but looking deeper at the Heisman results shows an ever-growing bias towards team success. The Heisman committee has continued to say that it is an “individual” award. But as time passes, it is clear that may not be the case.
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