Toby Gerhart, National Heisman Presser

About half an hour and half a Manhattan block removed from finishing No. 1A in the Heisman race, Toby Gerhart stepped in front of a podium to address the national media. Here's the first half of what Stanford's first Heisman nominee in 39 years had to say.


Note: Much of this portion of the press conference occurred with Toby at a podium in front of a national media audience.

Q: You must know what Al Gore felt like in 2000?
Toby Gerhart: [Smiles.] I'm not answering that, sorry.

[This was from the same Queens-based reporter who caused to the most unintentionally hilarious moment of the night. ESPN had shown a feature on Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy eating a sandwich at the Carnegie Deli, and the reporter led into a question for Tebow by mentioning that it was fitting they'd gone there on the first day of Hannukah. The look of utter confusion on Tebow's face was priceless.]

Q: Is it more frustrating or does it feel good coming so close?
A: It's just an honor to be here to represent Stanford and the Pac-10 Conference. Mark's a great guy, no hard feelings. I've been on cloud nine since being here.

Q: How appreciative were you of Stanford to let you play running back?
A: That's what I was looking for: a school that would let me play tailback. I have thrived in the system and I'm grateful to them, indebted, I guess.

Q: Have you seen Mark Ingram and, as a runner, what stands out to you about him?
A: I watched the SEC Title Game and that was the first time I got to relax and just watch a football game and watch him fully. I appreciate the way he plays, the passion for the game. I'm physical, he's physical. He breaks lot of tackles, gets a lot of YAC, carries his team on his back. I feel I'm similar in a lot of ways. It's an honor to be included.

The Bootleg: You won easily in the West Region [by better than a 2-to-1 margin, more on that to come], but Ingram beat you everywhere else, probably some places where a lot of voters hadn't seen you. Do you feel there's a West Coast bias?
A: Maybe there is, maybe there isn't. It's not what we're concerned with. We take pride in West Cost, Pac-10 football. I think there's enough exposure, but of course I'd like more. As time carries on, I think the respect for the Pac-10 will grow more and more.

Q: Why football over baseball?
A: It's just something inside. I can't explain it. Football is the one in my heart the most. … It's incredible. I'm just truly blessed to play two sports and to excel at both of them. I attribute a lot to my coaches, my parents, everyone along the way.

The Bootleg: This week, did you hear from John Elway, Jim Plunkett, other Stanford legends?
A: I heard from Jim Plunkett and had the opportunity to chat with him and his wife earlier. He said he was extremely proud of me, that I represented Stanford well and that it was an honor to have me here and be here to watch me.

Q: Must be a disappointment to finish second? [This from a reporter arriving late. Toby must get asked this five different times in five different ways over the course of the night.]
A: Not really. I'm excited, not disappointed. On the contrary, I'm excited. … I'm just enjoying the whole thing. Obviously you wish your name was called, but that's the way things go. Mark was obviously a deserving candidate.

Q: The projection [from] showed you a little behind Ingram so when you heard them say it was the closest race ever, were you thinking there was a chance?
A: I was hoping. I think I stopped breathing for a second. It's an honor just to be that close.

Q: Were you checking out the projections?
A: Yeah, it's hard not to. This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing, so you're checking things out and trying to get things. One of my roommates was the master of that: he'd give me updates every day. A lot of people couldn't make up their minds.

Q: Were you more nervous now or before a game?
A: I've thrown up before a game and didn't before this, so I guess a game. But it got more intense through the day, and by the end, my heart was pounding. But I'm just soaking it in and enjoying.

Q: Given how close it was, are you thinking there was anything you could have done? Just one more play or one more broken tackle…
A: [Pauses.] No regrets. There's nothing that really I could have done.

Q: Do you think it cost you not having the preseason hype?
A: I didn't have the hype to start the season. In hindsight, maybe I should have, but I take pride in the fact that the hype was earned. It was something coming from nowhere, from a team with no bowl game in eight years, that was not expected to do as well as we did. My play with my teammates gave us the nation's respect.

Q: Any solace in coming in such a close second?
A: It's a silver lining. Something people will talk about is that it was the closest race ever. It's just been an honor to be here, regardless of what happened.

Q: Did you brace yourself for this because the projection showed you a little behind Ingram?
A: Yeah, I've braced myself. I've enjoyed every single moment.

Q: What did Coach Harbaugh say to you? Did he say you were robbed?
A: Coach said congratulations and that he's proud of me. That's all that matters.

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