Harrell for Heisman: It's the Right Decision

It has become apparent through the 2008 college football season that the best quarterbacks in the country reside not only in the Big XII, but particularly in the Big XII South. Graham Harrell, Colt McCoy, and Sam Bradford have all had tremendous success in 2008, but which one should receive the highest college football award in the land? Mitchell Fish weighs in with the stats to back it up.

Graham Harrell should win the Heisman trophy, hands down. He has the best statistics, the same number of wins (in 2008), and the best career statistics of any Big XII quarterback.

He leads the NCAA in active career numbers through 7 of the 10 categories, is 7th in one, and trails by sixteen-thousandths of a point.

The one that he isn't in the top 10 of is the one that should be avoided, interceptions.

In fact, Harrell has left his name not only in Texas Tech or Big XII record books, but has also broken his share of NCAA records.

Harrell lead the Nation in passing yards in 2007 is 2nd with the conclusion of the 2008 season (he trails Case Keenum by 21 yards) while coming in 3rd in 2006.

He is the NCAA's active leader in attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, attempts per game, completions per game, yards per game, and trails Colt McCoy by sixteen-thousandths of a point in completion percentage (70.19% for McCoy and 70.03% for Harrell).

Harrell has thrown for 14,155 yards, 122 touchdowns, completed 1,250 passes after attempting 1744 for a career completion percentage of greater than 70% as the starting quarterback. It is worth noting, the statistics in the previous sentence are for the regular seasons from 2006 through the completion of the 2008 regular season.

Harrell is 2-0 as a starter in bowl games throwing for a combined 852 yards and 5 touchdowns in back-to-back come from behind wins in the Insight and Gator bowls.

Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy, on the other hand, have thrown for 7,201 yards and 9,318 yards respectively thus far in their careers as a starter.

Bradford has thrown 82 touchdowns in the regular season as a starter (two seasons, 24 games) while McCoy has thrown 83 touchdowns in his time as a starter (three seasons, 36 games).

Harrell has thrown for 39 and 38 more touchdowns, respectively, than McCoy or Bradford.

The final kicker, however, is that Harrell is the best player in the Nation at the position of quarterback. He has done more with less "star" talent than any of the other players being mentioned for the Heisman.

Harrell doesn't play in-front of an offensive line that was highly-touted coming out of high school, nor does he have a defensive unit to lean on that is loaded from top to bottom with elite talent.

This isn't a knock on Texas Tech but even the most avid Red Raider fan wouldn't contend that Tech has the same "star" talent as the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, and others.

Harrell has won his games as a starter fighting an up-hill battle against more talented, and deeper, teams.

Many will say "He's like Colt Brennan," though the difference being that Harrell plays in the Big XII South and not the pathetic WAC conference.

Another argument is that Bradford beat Harrell head to head, which is true, but Harrell beat McCoy , and McCoy beat Bradford.

Others will argue the severity of the loss that Harrell and Tech suffered at the hands of Bradford and Oklahoma, saying that it should be prohibitive to his winning the Nation's top College Football award. But Jason White getting pounded in the 2003 Big XII title game didn't prevent him from winning a Heisman.

Luckily for Harrell and Heisman voters, there is no requirement that they make their decisions based upon the BCS rankings.

Just last season Tim Tebow won the Heisman from a 9-3 Florida team that didn't win its conference. Harrell has also been responsible for 37 more touchdowns than Tebow throughout his time as Texas Tech's starting quarterback.

The decision should be one of the easiest of the Holiday season for voters and the choice is clear, Harrell is the best player in the country.

That isn't to say that Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Javon Ringer, Shonn Greene, or anyone else isn't capable of winning a Heisman, but this year Harrell is the best choice.

And if the vote goes another way it will further reinforce the belief that the Heisman trophy no longer goes to the best player in the country, but to the best on the trendy team at the time when the ballots are cast.

Statistics From:

NCAA Football Statistics

University of Texas Official Athletic Site

University of Oklahoma Official Athletic Site


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