How we voted

There are 926 Heisman Voters.

Dustin and I are two of them.

It is, quite frankly, difficult to keep up with the college football scene enough to feel as though you have done the work necessary to cast a vote for this award. We’re so focused on covering Indiana. As Dustin joked, a 12-year-old who has the ability to just sit and watch games all day might be better able to make this decision.

But we are professional journalists who spend much of our time thinking about, asking about and watching football. Hopefully we’ve been diligent enough in our research.

Here’s how I voted, and why.

1. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska defensive tackle

Frankly, it’s absurd that Charles Woodson is the only defensive player to win the Heisman. And he had to dabble in offense to do it. If the saying that defense wins championships so often turns out to be true, then surely there’s been a year or two (or more) during which the most dominant player in the country played on that side of the ball. It’s also true that line play dictates how well most football teams fare; you just need to watch a lot of film to see the work those guys do. Because at first glance you’re always looking at the fancy QB or hard-hitting linebacker.

Anyway, Suh changed games more than any player I saw (thanks to computers and technology for allowing me to find some replays of Nebraska games). He was a constant force for the Cornhuskers. He is so physical and so skilled. His motor is downright amazing.

2. Mark Ingram, Alabama running back

This was a tough one for me, because Gerhart obviously did so much for his team. Ingram, though, played against better defenses. The SEC is so far and above any other conference right now. To average 6.2 yards per carry is truly impressive. He’s more dynamic than Gerhart, as he was able to run through and around tackles and also caught 30 passes.

3. Toby Gerhart, Stanford running back

If the Heisman were purely an MVP award, Gerhart would probably move up on my list. He carried the ball 311 times and scored 26 touchdowns. He’s a superb athlete who chose Stanford so he’d get the chance to be a running back. He’s a true power back who wears defenses down. I just don’t think he’s Ingram’s equal.

This is Dustin Dopirak now. And this is how I voted, and why.

First, a brief preamble. This is the first season since I was in college that I’ve covered an FBS football team, and I think it’s the season that I’m least qualified to choose a Heisman Trophy candidate. Of all the people who appreciate college football, I don’t think anyone watches less than people who cover a singular team for a newspaper. We watch one game per day, from beginning to end, then spend most of the rest of the day writing about it, missing countless games that could shape our votes in the process. We see statistics and highlights, but you don’t really know how someone played if you don’t watch him in a game from beginning to end. I was far more qualified to vote for this when I was 12 and flipped channels from noon until I went to bed.

I mention all of that in part because since I submitted my ballot, I’ve come to regret not voting for Ndamukong Suh. The man is an absolute one-man wrecking crew on defense. He will be a force at the next level, and if Texas would have missed that last-second field goal, he would have shaken up the BCS championship all by himself. If my vote is the reason Suh doesn’t win the Heisman, I publicly apologize.

So now for the guys I actually voted for.

1. Toby Gerhart, Stanford: Talk about a one-man wrecking crew. Gerhart’s numbers (1,736 yards and 26 touchdowns) are simply absurd, and it certainly seemed like earned every one of them. For someone that was projected by everyone to be a linebacker, he has incredible speed, agility and athleticism and he could really do it all. With Gerhart in the backfield, Stanford, which not long ago was the laughing stock of the Pac-10, went 8-4 and was in the Rose Bowl hunt. Plus, Gerhart only had one shaky game and it was against Wake Forest in the second game of the season. Granted, the Pac-10 has never been known for its run defenses, but he had three 200-yard games and rushed for multiple touchdowns nine times. In the last four games of the season, which included wins over Oregon, USC and Notre Dame, he rushed for 13 touchdowns. That’s more than a season for most people.

2. Mark Ingram, Alabama: Ingram certainly had a stellar year, and it was the best on the team that I think will end up the national champion in January. He totaled 1,864 yards and 18 touchdowns between rushing and receiving to lead the Tide to an unbeaten record, and he had 189 total yards and three touchdowns in what was unquestionably the biggest game of the college football season, the SEC championship victory over Florida. The biggest reason I picked Gerhart, though, is that I think a lot of Ingram’s success had to do with the team around him. Obviously, Ingram’s no slouch. It’s not like you could put me in the Alabama backfield and I could do the same thing. But I just got the impression that everything Gerhart did he really had to earn.

3. Colt McCoy, Texas: Part of me wanted to vote for McCoy to win it. You’re never supposed to put a player’s entire career into consideration for this, but it just seems a bit of a shame to me for McCoy to be the only member of the trio of quarterbacks that went to New York last year — along with Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford — never to win the trophy. He has more wins than any quarterback in college football history. He’s thrown for 112 touchdowns, and I think he belongs in the discussion among the best college quarterbacks ever. But he didn’t come close to matching his 2008 numbers and against a weaker Big 12, he just had too many rough outings. He was lucky to beat Suh and Nebraska, and he had a rough day against Oklahoma as well. That said, he still belongs in New York.But if I could do it over again, I would have put him behind Suh.

10 comments

  1. Chris, you say Dustin thinks a 12-year old could make a better decision. He would at least know the name of the Stanford running back. TOBY Gerhart, Chris. Toby.

  2. Whoa, whoa there fellas. I know his name. Obviously a typo. I write about Tom Crean all week. If someone has a short name that starts with a T my fingers assume it’s Tom.

  3. I know Gerhart, didn’t he set the Stanford single-season rushing record with 1,136 yards, breaking the school record previously held by Toby Vardell (1,084 yards)?

  4. Korman, just curious – would you have considered Suh before last week? Or did that performance make you go back and do some HW on him? Seems like he came out of nowhere, but probably deserved some more props during the season.

  5. I like the way you guys think. I would have given it to the Pac 10 guy or the defensive guy, no doubt – the two “minority candidates” on the list. Gerhart killed Washington, and is perhaps the only reason those hideously arrogant and uncivilized Oregon Duck fans aren’t intoxicated with self-praise. Oh wait – they still are. Never mind.

    Hopefully next year Jake Locker will be on this list.

  6. Actually, Gerhart faced five top forty run defenses while Igram faced one. Ingram also had several games where he did not gain 100 yards. I remember when A. Thompson had something like 80 yards against UofMichigan (one of the few games he did not gain 100 yards) and likely lost the Heisman because of it. Unfortunately many voters assume things about the candidates, the conferences they play in, etc. that bias their decisions. I agree with Robert Smith of ESPN that Gerhart would have won the award if he played for USC rather than Stanford.

  7. Husky Tom – you are the reason people (not just Duck fans) feel we should have a “Husky Free Northwest”.

    Duck fans are not hideously arrogant nor uncivilized. You clearly are jealous of the Nike donations to our program – undoubtably a huge impact here. I have lived in Eugene for 15 years and coming from being born and raised 2 miles from the Nebraska Memorial stadium I know a thing or two about college football and the fans. Truly Husker fans are the greatest, but I have found that Duck fans come in a close second. At a Nebraska game there are nearly 90,000 people rooting for the Big Red – at a Duck game it is a paltry 58,000, and really about 56,000 rooting for the Ducks – and yet somehow they are louder! They are a dedicated group of normal folks, and given the smaller community, smaller wages, and smaller stadium I am hard pressed to figure out why you would call them arrogant. It just does not fit.

    As for the uncivilized comment, well we did have one player, loose his cool one time – however he put up 1,018 yards last year without punching a single opponent and I feel it really was a one-off incident. Uncivilized perhaps, human definitely.

    At any rate, I hope you enjoy your new coach and the numerous recruiting violations that he is GUILTY of – the worst of which is allowing his current players to buy alcohol for underage recruits. The shame and the sham – that is Husky football. To think anything less of the the reported (by the UW no less) violations is truly arrogant and uncivilized.

    Go Ducks.

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