The ACC has had 2 Heisman Trophy winners in the last 50 years.
The SEC has had 3 Heisman Trophy winners in the last 3 years.
And that, in short, explains why Johnny Football, and not Jameis Winston, will win the 2013 Heisman Trophy. It is simply a matter of exposure, competition and perception.
When Charlie Ward won the Heisman in 1993, he benefitted from two significant games at the end of the season, against Notre Dame in the most-watched regular season game of the past quarter-century and the season-ender against SEC champion/Sugar Bowl-bound Florida.
When Chris Weinke won the Heisman in 2000, he benefitted from a high-profile matchup against Miami that reignited that rivalry and the season-ender against SEC champion/Sugar Bowl-bound Florida.
In 2013, Jameis Winston played Clemson, in mid-October. That’s it. The game against Miami was hyped on a slow weekend but no one took the Hurricanes seriously – Virginia Tech drilled them the following week to hammer home the point. Despite that, the game versus Miami was Winston’s first “slip-up,” if that can even be called that, with a couple of first half interceptions.
Florida State finishes the year against Syracuse, Idaho, a decidedly not-Sugar Bowl-bound Florida and a mediocre opponent in the ACC title game (Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech, yawn, or Georgia Tech).
In short, Winston’s Heisman campaign is essentially over. No matter what he does down the stretch, there will be no Heisman moment. There will be no primetime, top 10 win. Yes, he may lead Florida State back to the BCS Title Game, but there will be little intrigue.
In fact, if Florida State does need magic from Winston – a late drive or a second-half comeback – it would be detrimental to Winston to be in that position at all. Due to the terribly mediocre nature of this year’s ACC, after Clemson, it is assumed by nearly everyone that Florida State will coast easily through the rest of its season.
We have also seen Florida State’s defense on display against Wake Forest and its other playmakers rip through Miami. The Seminoles have appeared to reach Alabama status, where the talent is so rich around the quarterback that the numbers and performances are devalued.
If you don’t believe me, just ask A.J. McCarron about that. And Heisman votes have shown an unwillingness in the last decade – since Jason White won the trophy in 2003, and maybe Matt Leinart in 2004 – to simply give the award to the QB of the best team in the country.
That’s why McCarron isn’t going to win it. For better or worse, there will be no more Jason White, Gino Torretta or Chris Weinke winners. If your team is the best in the country, then you are going to have to be by far the best player on the field to win the award. That’s how Cam Newtown pulled it off. That’s why Manti T’eo almost did it. That’s why Jameis Winston may potentially do it.
And if this were any other year, we might be heading into November as a coronation for Winston. McCarron is looked at as a mere game manager. Stanford lacks a true candidate. Bryce Petty and Braxton Miller, respectively, are having insanely productive seasons but the feeling about both is that they are benefitting from tremendous offensive systems and tremendously weak schedules. There isn’t enough juice for either.
With the failure of Marcus Mariota last Thursday night against Stanford, it turned the Heisman in a two-man horse race between Winston and Johnny Football.
And that’s not good for Winston.
While Winston will be cruising against inferior competition, Manziel will have the eyes of the football world on him, again. Remember the talk all summer about Manziel? That he was immature, that he was too egotistical, that he was trouble and that he had zero chance to repeat?
Those concerns – and all the accompanying baggage – disappeared the moment the Alabama game started. Heisman moments usually don’t happen in September, but Manziel’s performance that afternoon was so good that it let the narrative commence.
Could Johnny Football win a second Heisman?
For the past two months, it appears that everyone, except for Paul Finebaum, was desperate to pick anyone besides Manziel as the frontrunner. There has been a feeling that no player deserves a second Heisman, that Archie Griffin would forever stand alone. But when Mariota spit the bit, there was no one left to challenge Winston. We were back at square one, we were back where we started and this is where the power of the SEC comes into play.
Next Saturday, while Winston is playing a hapless Idaho team, Johnny Football will be playing on CBS at 3:30 p.m. against LSU on a surprisingly light slate of games – Baylor/Oklahoma State is the only truly big game and the likely primetime headliner.
That means Manziel will have America’s attention against a big-name opponent, who oh by the way happens to be pretty terrible on defense this year. They got torn up by Georgia and Aaron Murray, then Alabama and A.J. McCarron, what could A&M have in store?
On Thanksgiving weekend, while Winston is playing a hapless Florida team, Texas A&M will be battling Missouri with Missouri’s SEC East title hopes likely in the balance, with A&M playing (if they beat LSU) for a BCS bowl berth. Alabama/Auburn will be on CBS that day – Missouri/Texas A&M is almost certain to be ESPN’s primetime game.
Imagine the scene now – Missouri’s Faurot Field filled to capacity under the lights, all that stands between them and history is the defending Heisman Trophy winner trying to do the unthinkable.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a scientologist to realize that’s a Hollywood script.
If that wasn’t good enough, there is overwhelming resignation from many that Manziel deserves it because, unlike Winston, Texas A&M isn’t that good. Their defense is best described as horrible, putrid or horribly putrid. At home – AT HOME – A&M has given up 49 to Alabama, 45 to Auburn and 41 to Mississippi State. They gave up 38 to Ole Miss and only pulled out that game because Johnny Manziel is Johnny F’in Football and that’s what he does.
The narrative is now firmly in place. Forget about the numbers. Forget about the interceptions. Forget about yards per attempt or completion percentage.
The Heisman voters are ready. They are willing to do the previously unfathomable and give another player a second Heisman Trophy. They just need the validation.
If Johnny Football and Texas A&M beats LSU and Missouri, on the road, in back-to-back nationally-televised spectacles, they will do it.
Jameis Winston is the Heisman front-runner.
Johnny Football is the Heisman favorite.
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