Daily Cavalcade: The Heisman Vote Problem

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- Dec. 8 COW The playoff aftermath

Going into the offseason, I'll be doing a bunch of shorter, daily rants on the world. To find out when they go up, follow me at @PeteFiutak. Please. I'm needy in that way.

Dec. 11 ”Now, you listen to me! I want trading reopened right now. Get those brokers back in here! Turn those machines back on!”

It’s my annual rant, and I’m going to be proactive this time so there’s no Tuesday morning quarterback on January 13th in case there’s a problem.

It’s fine that college football has its big awards thing now – go ahead and give away the honors for the best receiver, defensive back, running back, etc. after the regular season. But the Heisman is a different animal since it’s the MVP, the MOP, and sometimes, the defining moment in a college football season that trumps even the games themselves. Once you’re a Heisman winner, you’re put in a category of American sports immortals – the word Heisman will appear in the first sentence or two in any winner’s obituary.

Yeah, it’s sort of silly to make such a big deal out of one individual award, but it matters. Out of all the things I get to be a part of doing what I do, being a Heisman voter is one of the honors I love to talk about the most, because it’s the easiest thing the average sports fan relates to.

I understand what I’m asking for just isn’t going to happen, but it would be really nice if we could vote for the greatest individual annual award in sports after the entire season is over and we have all the facts.

I don’t regret voting for Reggie Bush in 2005, but I certainly would’ve voted for Vince Young if I had a do-over after the 2006 Rose Bowl. If I had to do over again, based solely on the regular season, I would’ve voted for Manti Te’o as the signature player of the 2012 regular season, but after the bowl season, I would’ve obviously voted for Johnny Manziel. And now, more than ever, with a four-team playoff and several terrific stars in the equation, the Heisman voting should be done on January 13th.

In today’s day and age of automated voting, it’s simple. The Heisman voting is done the day after the national championship, and the award comes out in a big ceremony a few days later.

This season, Marcus Mariota is going to come up with the landslide of landslides, but what if he wets the bed against Florida State? What if Jameis Winston goes off against the Ducks and is brilliant in the national championship, making the inaugural College Football Playoff his magnum opus? What if Amari Cooper tears up Ohio State and the Rose Bowl winner for 20-something catches for over 300 yards and five scores as he turns out to be the playoff MVP? What if Mariota, Cooper and Winston all stink it up, but Melvin Gordon tears off 300 yards in the Outback Bowl against Auburn?

I’m sure it’ll all turn out fine, and I’m hoping all the stars shine bright in the playoff. I just feel like I voted before the candidates had their final say.



Dec. 10: ”Thank you. I just had it stuffed.” … From what it sounds like from Barry Alvarez, Gary Andersen apparently liked the idea of beating his head against the wall, and liked the idea of living in Corvallis over Madison, as the head coach of Oregon State rather than try to keep working with a program that was a game away from the Big Ten title and an interception against Northwestern away from playing Ohio State for a playoff spot.

Or else Alvarez is just saying all the right things after blowing a gasket over his Badgers losing 59-0 in the Big Ten championship.

It probably took just one joking jab, one rip, one comment from his playoff committee brethren to push the right button.

But okay, let’s say Andersen just wanted a change of scenery and liked the idea of being the head man of a Pac-12 team. No matter how it happened, Wisconsin, let this be your chance to be better.

Andersen did a great job of keeping things going as it, but the program needs to start recruiting bigger and better talents to go along with the normal Bucky types who step in and fit the mold. Let this be the chance to think bigger, better, faster. Let this be the moment when the program decides it’s ready to start competing for national titles, not just Big Ten championships.

Oregon State, get ready for a defense.

The program had some nice Ds under Mike Riley, but Andersen is a defensive wizard – 59-0 aside – doing terrific things at Utah State to get him the Wisconsin gig. He’s going to add a zig to the Pac-12 zag, and expect more zone-read, expect a tremendous linebacking corps, and expect Oregon State to be a tougher out than it’s been in the past.

It’s a win-win. Oregon State at least went lateral after losing Riley, and might have gotten an upgrade. Wisconsin gets a chance to change direction a bit and move forward. Nebraska … Mike Riley is still and interesting choice.

Dec. 10: Corey Clement will be happy to pack the bags for him … Never has there been a better time for a player to finally - finally - bust through the barrier and say that he’s not going to unnecessarily risk his pro career by playing in a meaningless game. I’ve been whining ad nauseum for years that the Todd Gurleys, Marcus Lattimores and Jadeveon Clowneys of the world need to protect their NFL investment and leave college football, but I really do see the other side – if there’s something to play for, and if the guy wants to help his team, okay. These guys are football players and they want to play football.

However, there’s no reason whatsoever for Melvin Gordon to play against Auburn in the Outback Bowl.

The NFL scouts already know Gordon is a high-character guy who’ll be a leader and will bust his butt to get better. They know he’s a team player, and there’s nothing he can do against the Tigers in a bowl game that the next-level guys don’t already know. He has to quit fumbling so much, and he has to work on his receiving skills, but that’s what mini-camp is for.

It’s this simple. Gordon needs to say thank you to the University of Wisconsin, and go start working out and preparing for his Pro Day and the Combine. The University of Wisconsin needs to say thank you to Gordon, and tell him to not risk tens of millions of dollars, and his NFL dream, when he doesn’t have to.

Dec. 10: Putting the bowl into Bowlsby … Want to know what the Big 12 should do after being left out in the College Football Playoff cold? What steps should the league take going forward? What should happen next?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby is coming under fire for a slew of reasons – with a talking to from Art Briles, to TCU fans wondering what went wrong – but the harsh reality is that there wasn’t anything that could be done.

First of all, it’s ridiculous to think that the committee can be lobbied and swayed. They’re human beings and the playoff is a beauty contest to some extent, but Bowlsby could’ve pounded his shoe on a table and demanded Baylor get in and it wouldn’t have mattered a lick. It’s even more ridiculous to suggest – as I’ve heard twice now – that there wasn’t enough of Big 12 representation among the committee members.

The College Football Playoff committee met weekly in Grapevine, Texas, about a drive and a three-wood away from the Big 12 headquarters. It’s not possible to have been more embedded in Big 12 country in a place called the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center, a place where you’re reminded every single solitary waking second that you’re in Texas.

A conference championship wouldn’t have mattered, either. Had there been one in a ten-team league, Baylor and TCU would’ve played again, one of the teams would’ve won, and Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State would be in the inaugural playoff, and why?

Baylor’s non-conference schedule was a disaster, Oklahoma and West Virginia limped down the stretch, the bottom of the conference had a rocky road, the top three teams came up with one decent non-conference win among them – TCU over Minnesota – and, the harshest truth of all, someone had to be left out.

It had nothing to do with brand name – Texas or Oklahoma would’ve suffered the same fate if either one had Baylor’s or TCU’s resume. It had nothing to do with not having 12 teams – Baylor from the South and Kansas State from the North would’ve played a rematch, and it wouldn’t have had any bearing whatsoever.

Why should the conference stand pat? Had Georgia Tech beaten Florida State in the ACC championship, Baylor would’ve been in, and had there been two upsets among the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC title games, there’s a shot Baylor and TCU would’ve both been in. That there wasn’t an upset to help the cause is just a bad luck quirk.

No, Big 12, don’t assume that adding two more teams would change the dynamic. Assume that you’re probably going to have at least one worthy team next year, and you’ll catch a better break.


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