What happened to the Heisman hype?
Your 2015 Heisman trophy winner is…Derrick Henry, to no surprise. Since its creation in 1935, the Heisman trophy has gone to what is believed to be the best player in college football. The award usually goes to offensive players, as they tend to have the most impressive stats, and the same would happen this season. The three 2015 Heisman finalists, Deshaun Watson(Clemson), Derrick Henry(Alabama), and Christian McCaffery(Stanford), were all huge parts of their respective offenses. If you take a look at those names and teams one more time, what’s something you notice all of them have in common? How about this: Power Five, one loss or less, top 10, etc. One electric player missing from that list was Navy QB Keenan Reynolds. Why? Because Navy isn’t in the Power Five, they have more than one loss, and they aren’t in the playoff committee’s top 10. If you go back maybe 10-15 years, this wouldn’t have been the case. The college football playoff and the whole idea of a “Power Five” conference didn’t exist. If you were a one loss team it didn’t really matter who you played, you were going to be in the top 15. A lot more electric players got respect and attention from the rest of the country back then. Now all anyone seems to care about is a team’s record and their brand name. I’ll get into everyone’s stats here in a second, but moral of the story, the Heisman trophy has lost a lot of its meaning and importance to college football.
I’ll give everyone the stats and then share my opinion on the whole thing.
Let’s start with Heisman winner Derrick Henry. He ran for 1,986 yards and 23 TD’s on the season. Henry averaged 5.9 yards per carry. Not too shabby.
Second place Stanford do-it-all Christian McCaffery had a much more impressive resume, in my opinion, but he doesn’t play for Bama. He ran for 1,847 yards and 8 TD’s, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. McCaffery also had 540 receiving yards and 4 TD catches, not to mention the touchdown pass he threw in the Pac-12 Championship game. I haven’t even mentioned the return yards yet. Set that number at 1042. He tallied himself to over 1,000 all-purpose yards more than the next closest player.
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson. He threw for 3,512 yards this season and had a 30:11 touchdown to interception ratio. He added 11 TD’s on the ground.
In comparison, Navy QB Keenan Reynolds threw for 964 yards and only 6 touchdowns. But get this, he added 21 TD’s on the ground, breaking the all-time NCAA record for rushing TD’s by a QB (now 85). He was by far one of the more electrifying players in all of college football, and the nation agrees with that statement. Nissan’s Heisman fan vote was won by Mr. Reynolds. Not Henry, McCaffery, Watson, or even Baker Mayfield. It was won by the non-Power Five Navy Quarterback.
Now if you’re still reading after I rolled off all of those stats, it’s time I give my input on this thing. I was overly confident going into the Heisman ceremony thinking that Christian McCaffery was going to win. I was very surprised when Keenan Reynolds and Baker Mayfield didn’t get an invite to New York. It seems as though we have come to a point in time where the name and conference of a college is more important than the actual performance of the players on the team. We have also come to a point in time where there are tons and tons of other awards that players can win now. Best QB, best RB, MVP, Best WR, and a lot more. There’s so many awards it just seems like the Heisman is on the same level. The Maxwell award is practically the same exact award. The finalists are usually the same and the Heisman winner has recently replicated the Maxwell Award winner. Back to the topic of college name and conference, I can’t help but to throw out Rakeem Cato’s numbers from last year and compare them to this year’s Heisman QB nominee. I mean c’mon, the guy had 3,900 passing yards, 40 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his senior season. Go back to his junior year and Cato had 3,900 yards, 39 touchdown passes, and only 9 interceptions. Those numbers would have won Deshaun Watson the Heisman. Granted, C-USA is not the ACC, just as the AAC isn’t in Reynolds case. But that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Cato and Reynolds, and probably many others, were left out of the opportunity of a lifetime just because they don’t play for a big enough school or a big enough conference.
I know opinions will be split on this subject, but I also know I’ve seen a lot of complaints similar to mine. I’m tired of seeing 20,000 different awards for college football. The Heisman would have a lot more meaning if it stood alone. Players nowadays aren’t adored like the prior Heisman winners. We aren’t looking at Derrick Henry, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, RGIII, and Johnny Manziel as we did Charles Woodson, Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders, Archie Griffin, and so on.
Hopefully the hype will come back to the Heisman trophy ceremony in the near future. As for now, everyone sits and watches a boring show for an hour just to see another power five player chosen. It’s too predictable to be exciting anymore, and that’s not good for college football.
Casey covers college football for MFST. You can follow him on twitter @wxmozz