Friday, December 11, 2009

Heisman Watch: In Praise of Suh

I'm not just lamenting the fizzled end to Tim Tebow's Heisman candidacy (though I remain stunned that he is getting ANY 1st-place votes, let alone placement on ballots at all).

I am actually here to say that Ndamukong Suh's insurgent candidacy is the greatest thing ever to happen in Heisman balloting.

This isn't Charles Woodson earning a Heisman not because he was a shut-down cornerback, but because he scored a couple of offensive touchdowns on top of it.

This is a defensive lineman -- perhaps the best defensive lineman of all time -- making a run at the Heisman Trophy, basically on the strength of a single game.

Oh, sure, Suh had an awesome year. You know what that normally gets a defensive lineman, in terms of Heisman support? Zilch.

But because he put on one of the great individual displays of destruction... in a game that everyone was watching... directly against the clubhouse Heisman leader: He catapulted himself.

It's not just that Suh has earned more 1st-place votes than any other contender with 25 percent o the ballots counted (by That's impressive enough.

No, what tips the balance to "so best Heisman contender ever" is that in the process of vaulting his own campaign, he totally destroyed Colt McCoy's.

Please consider that as recently as last Friday, McCoy was considered the favorite. Oh, sure, Mark Ingram was going to get votes if Alabama beat Florida. (Sorry: "When.")

But McCoy was still considered the guy to beat in all of the straw polls. He had all the standard Heisman credentials: "QB of an undefeated team," and the "he's due" vote.

Then Suh destroyed him, nearly KO'ing his national-title shot, let alone his Heisman cred. And, all of a sudden, with so many voters holding their ballots until Saturday night, Suh had vaulted himself to the top -- and had undercut McCoy's entire campaign.

As you can see at StiffarmTrophy, McCoy is 4th -- totally out of it. And while it appears that many voters submitted their ballots for Ingram after the SECCG but before the Big 12 title game, Suh is right in the middle of it.

Even if Suh doesn't win, he might get more 1st-place votes than any other contender.

Here's the real crime: How many Heisman voters didn't even THINK to put Suh on their ballot, because he doesn't play RB or QB, particularly for a top team?

I'm proud of the voters who championed Suh's cause -- and the ones who followed through with an unprecedented level of support for a defensive player.

But I think you'll see: Suh will be left off enough ballots that it will -- and should -- make you question why the Heisman vote is given to 900 people, many of whom have no business voting.

Those are the ones who are most likely to ignore Suh. That's too bad for them. They could have had a part in history as supporting the most interesting Heisman contender ever.

-- D.S.

UPDATE: I only just now saw Dr. Saturday's post talking about this Heisman race as the most fascinating in years -- I'd call it "most fascinating ever," but that's quibbling. I just wanted to point you all to it, because it's really well done. And to disclaim that I hadn't seen it before I wrote up my own opinions. But it's worth your time to read. Great minds...

1 comment:

Eric said...

Suh and Gerhart should be 1-2 (or 2-1). These 2 had excellent years and made their teams inarguably better. I'd love to see an every-down defensive lineman win this. It would lend huge credability to the process.

However, I am a Pac-10 honk and I would vote for Gerhart #1 based upon nation leading stats, done behind a young offensive line and QB and against above average defenses most of the year. He's also at a very tough academic school.