Ahead of the Curve
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Most years it's a pretty easy gig.

The schools hire a marketing firm to pitch their Heisman hopefuls, the suits & skirts hook-up with their media friends, games are played, some stars rise, others fade, on occasion one will crash the party (Flutie / Manziel) and by early December voters settle on...a QB.

The ball-carriers, they get the trophy every third or fourth year. And though egregiously never awarded college football's highest individual honor, of late, the defensive stand-out has been getting some press push, but then Te'o's game got busted and Clowney fell out fast in '13 when his head swelled (ESPN) and he started 'counting his chickens' early.

Big school, fat-stats and a top-tier W-L record are the pre-requisites for hauling in Mr. Heisman. It goes without saying that the off-field record better be just as neat. If it gets mussed, even if put right later, you best just forget about it. No one's that forgiving.

But this year the voters are in a quandary.

The reigning winner, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, has the numbers and team victories (8-3 (L: Ala, AU & LSU)) enough to become college football's first repeat winner since Ohio State's Archie Griffin did it way back in the Woody Hayes' era (1974-75).

But the Houdini act John & handlers pulled back in summer to avoid the heavy hand of NCAA for his off-season signature sorties (sat .25% of 1 game), coupled with prior weird ways, hasn't sat well with most voters who've lost that loving feeling they had this time last year when his fresh (but only one a mother could love) face, captured voters hearts.

Manziel's kept his nose clean in-season and continues to pile up numbers like nobody's business, though, Saturday's one-sided loss at a dismal & dreary, weather-plagued Tiger field in Baton Rouge (LSU 34-10) dashed good hope of a 2nd trophy.

Voters were given some breathing room earlier in the season when Alabama outlasted Manziel and his Aggies in this season's early clash of titans (W3, 49-42), slowing the flash QB's fast-track to another trophy, a course rightfully afforded any returning winner.

John's clearly the top offensive player in the college game today (3537 / 69% / 32-13 / 665) and deserves mention in the 'all-time greats' discussion, but he fails the important "integrity" test with his arrogant 'up-yours' attitude and off-field shenanigans.

Those with a Heisman vote are also compelled to remember that, while Archie was a very deserving repeat recipient and hallowed in history, when casting to award the popular mantel piece it pays to spread the joy, so to speak, and find a new winner each season, if at all possible.

Barring major miscues at Auburn, the Crimson Tide's A.J. McCarron should walk away with this season's Heisman hardware. We won't know if the senior signal caller guides his team to a third national title in his tenure before the votes are cast, but even if AJ & Co. come up short, as that great vocalist Meatloaf crooned, "two outta' three ain't bad."  Fueling the feel-good is Ray's matriculation at one of the classiest programs in the land, as evidenced by Nick Saban's disinterest in running-up scores (v. Chattanooga, 49-0).

If I had a vote, I'd pass on ol' Johnny "Red Flag."

I couldn't give a Heisman to one who seems so stubborn, so averse to work ethic & learning, though, in fairness, some or all of those traits probably befit more than a few past Heisman winners (Tim Tebow's stubbornness ended his NFL career (TE)). Difference being, most the others rarely rubbed our noses in it.

Motto for Heisman voters in 2013: fool me once ('12), shame on you (John), fool me twice (2013), shame on me.  Gee, Johnny, we hardly knew ya.'

Weighing in John's favor, besides fact he's clearly the most talented, electric player on the college scene today, should be that his devilish manner off-field is emblematic of big-time college athletics and the greed which drives every move that's made. Chock full o' fun, grabbing with both hands and as shallow as the kiddie end of the pool.

As for the Heisman "integrity" standard which John fails, its drafters were either mis-informed on the state of college football in '35 or intended such wording to serve as lofty goal at which competitors might aim and its namesake exemplified, for such a standard would soon go by the boards, along with megaphones, leather helmets & raccoon coats.

There is one award I'd confer upon Johnny Manziel: 'Best Sport Story in 2013.'

John's story picked up where Tebow's ended (NFL). But I suspect #1 Aggie plans on testing NFL waters after this bowl season concludes, to a similar sad result as Timbo.

Manziel would be wise to stay put at A&M. That's where his good legacy will be made. Milk this college thing, refurbish that image (stop gulping and learn to sip), try to bring a championship to College Station, maybe win another Heisman and possibly become the greatest single-wing tailback (aka: QB) in college history.  But I won't hold my breath.

That's something John could always hang his hat on and then, if he had a mind to, work into a fairly comfortable career.

Steven Keys

Meat & Potatoes

Photo Credit: Manziel tribute / Kyle Field / 10-20-12 / shutterbug459 / wc.cca

 

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