Heisman Voters Facing Quandary

As a man who has voted for the Heisman Trophy for about 20 years I have always tried to find a way to put statistical accomplishments into an appropriate context. You have to do that when you compare players you have seen on a regular basis with those who you rarely if ever see in action. It's not a fool-proof system, and I'm the fool who proves it.

I admit I bought into the remarkable stats of Houston's Andre Ware in 1989. After all, he threw for an unheard of 4,299 yards and 44 touchdowns. How could I vote for someone else? Well I should have. Major Harris (West Virginia), Tony Rice (Notre Dame) and Emmitt Smith all would have been better choices. Well I, like many of my fellow "electors" were embarrassed by that vote, which was why David Klingler barely got a sniff when he shattered those records the next year.

The reason I bring this up is that there is starting to be more and more talk about how the Big 12 quarterbacks' incredible stats might be viewed in much the same vein. At the moment seven quarterbacks in that conference are passing for more yards per game than Matthew Stafford of Georgia who leads the SEC with just less than 260 per game. Think about that for a second. A single conference could have more than a half dozen 3,000 yard passers. Didn't that used to be an impressive number? In the Big 12, it's barely enough to start.

I'm sure the folks in that part of the country will be quick to point out that it's not the Big 12's fault that most of the great quarterbacks in the country play in their league. People in this jurisdiction might respond by pointing out that defense is actually played in the SEC. Just look at the numbers from the top four passers in the Big 12 compared with Stafford and Tim Tebow.

Graham Harrell -- Texas Tech -- 71.7% -- 4,077 -- 36/5
Sam Bradford -- Oklahoma -- 67.9% -- 3,406 -- 38/6
Chase Daniel -- Missouri -- 76.1% -- 3,264 -- 28/10
Colt McCoy -- Texas -- 78% -- 2,879 -- 28/7
Tim Tebow -- Florida -- 64.9% -- 1,740 -- 17/2
Matthew Stafford -- Georgia -- 60.9% -- 2,587 -- 15/8

Tebow gets a boost from his 10 rushing touchdowns, but not a big one. McCoy has scored seven times and Harrell six.

Are those four guys really that much better than the best of the SEC? I'm sure I sound provincial, but I don't think so. I find it hard to believe that any QB in the SEC could complete more than 70 percent of his passes. Only three SEC passers have EVER done that, with Tim Couch's 72.3 percent in 1998 the best mark in conference history.

Harrell and Bradford are gearing up for a shootout a week from Saturday and the winning pitcher in that one could well be the man who ends up with the Heisman Trophy. But I'm not promising them my vote; at least not yet.


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