Since I live in Indiana, I’ve heard an amplified level of bitching about Note Dame linebacker Manti T’eo getting “screwed” out of the Heisman Trophy Saturday night. To keep this simple, it is time for Notre Dame fans to realize that Te’o was never going to win…never.
Yeah, I get that even after a quarter-century of irrelevance, you Notre Dame fans still think that college football supremacy is your birthright, but if you really want to re-assert that claim, you may want to focus on beating Alabama rather that whining about what is essentially a quasi-meaningless popularity contest.
Face facts, you Golden Dopers. If Notre Dame beats Alabama, nobody will remember this so-called Heisman slight. But if you lose that game, don’t spend the next 20 years crying about how T’eo got screwed, because he didn’t.
If you doubt that, consider the following:
1) The Vote Wasn’t Really That Close
Even though the common line about the outcome of this vote was “Manziel Narrowly Beats T’eo,” that’s really not true when you remember how the voting is set up. There were 892 ballots cast for the award; the vote being conducted by a voter placing three candidates in order on their ballot. Each first place vote is worth three points, second place is worth two points, and third is worth one.
Manziel recieved 474 first-place votes as compared to 321 for T’eo. When you factor in the other 97 ballots that had somebody other than Manziel or Te’o, it becomes clear this was a two-horse race. With 892 ballots, a unanimous first-place winner would have received 2,676 points. This means Manziel only got 1,422 points from first-place ballots, where T’eo got 963. Manziel got a total of 2,029 points to T’eo’ s 1,706. That means Manziel not only scored more first-place ballots, but that T’eo was scored second or third on more ballots than Manziel scored first. Remember, you are voting for a guy to lose if you don’t put him first on the ballot. In other words, more voters thought T’eo was not the winner than thought Manziel was the winner That’s a pretty clear cut loss for T’eo.
2) It Wasn’t About “Defensive Players Can’t Win,” Te’o Wasn’t Even The Best Defensive Player
T’eo’s big claim to fame statistically is his collecting 7 interceptions. But out of the guys with 7 or more interceptions, he has by far the fewest return yards and is the only one not to come up with a “pick 6.” So, the fact that he is a “big play maker” is a bit of a myth.
In terms of sacks, Te’o doesn’t even show up on the board. In fact, the only thing that T’eo gets credited for is making a lot of tackles, which are not an official statistic. T’eo shares this trait with Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, who doesn’t have T’eo pick-offs, but did record 22 tackles for loss. Jones also received so first-place Heisman ballots. From “eye-ball” test, Jones was the better linebacker, and another first-place vote recipient, South Carolina’s Jadavean Clowney was a far more dominant factor on the field from his defensive line position.
So why did Te’o get so many votes? Largely because he is the best player on a defense which brought the Fighting Irish back to national prominence after two-plus decades in the college football shitter. Don’t underestimate how powerful that is.
If Notre Dame had lost a game along the way, would Te’o have even been in this discussion?
3) Face It, Football Is Now A Quarterback’s Game
Charless Woodson is the only one of 74 Heisman winners who wasn’t exclusively an offensive player, and even then he won due to his efforts as a kick-returner and part-time wide-receiver. Since Woodson won that award in 1997, only four of the last 15 winners weren’t quarterbacks, and 6 of the last 7 were signal-callers.
This isn’t just a college phenomenon. Since the NFL began awarding MVP awards in 1957, it’be been won by a defensive player only twice; Alan Page in 1971 and Lawrence Taylor in 1986. Out of the 54 years in the history of this award, 35 winners have been quarterbacks, including only 6 non-quarterbacks in the last twenty years.
So, Notre Dame fans, after considering all that, please explain to me why you thought Te’o has a chance to win the Heisman. After all, it was only you and only a third of the Heisman voters who thought so.