November 5, 2012- It started out as a simple tweet: "I'm fortunate to have a Heisman vote, and AJ McCarron just impressed the hell out of me." I had just watched as the Alabama QB lead his team on a game-winning TD drive in the Crimson Tide's biggest game of the year, in one of the most hostile environments in college football, not to mention against one of the game's best defenses. McCarron knew that if Alabama didn't win thegame, the chances of repeating as BCS National Champions, were going to be incredibly difficult. So as AJ McCarron directed his team to the game-winning score with no timeouts...yes...I was impressed.
Up until that game-winning drive, I had not really considered McCarron as a Heisman candidate, although his name was already being mentioned in some circles. Sure he was Top 5 the nation in passer rating and hadn't thrown an interception all year but he hadn't had that "Heisman moment"...until Saturday night. Well, you would have thought my tweet had suggested we cancel Christmas this year. Many retweeted (a show of support...I assume from Alabama fans) and others went nuts (the rest of the world who can't stand Alabama).
People tweeted..." how can you vote for him based on one drive...all he did was throw a screen pass..." First of all, I didn't say I was voting for AJ McCarron. I said he impressed me. This means I'm now considering him as a candidate, which as I mentioned earlier, I hadn't done until now. I never vote until the day the ballots are due. I'm a long way away from even having a top five. There is so much football left to be played, and after the first Saturday of November, I consider the Heisman field to be wide open.
Other people tweeted... "did you see his stats...he was awful in the game." There's no question that statistically LSU QB Zach Mettenberger had the better game, but there's something to be said for the ability to put aside your struggles during a game and to be able to put it all together when the game is on the line...which is what McCarron did.
But the Heisman isn't about stats. Sure that's part of the equation, but if you want the award to be stat-driven just develop a formula (like the BCS) plug in the numbers and let a computer choose the winner. Humans vote on the award because college football is such an apples and oranges comparison. You can't take QB numbers from the SEC and simply compare their numbers against QBs from say the Big 12 or Pac 12. SEC quarterbacks go against the best defenses in college football on a weekly basis. Just ask NFL scouts...they confirm that every year in the draft.
But for those of you that are interested in the stats, McCarron has a passer rating of173.5 which is 3rd in the nation, less than one point behind national leader Collin Klein. McCarron has thrown 19 TD passes with 0 interceptions in 204 attempts. For his career, he has now thrown 38 TD passes with just 5 interceptions. In a conference where you "pay dearly" for making mistakes, he doesn't make many. And that's important. So AJ McCarron impressed me and now as of about 11:30pm ET November 3, 2012...I now consider him a candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
For the record, here's a list of other players that have impressed me during this season and may, or may not, be a candidate on my ballot. I know that's vague but we still have a lot of football to play.
In no particular order I might add...
Kansas State Quarterback Collin Klein
NotreDame Linebacker Manti Te'o
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota and RB Kenjon Barner
Georgia LB Jarvis Jones
Southern Cal WR Marqise Lee
FSU QB EJ Manuel
West Virginia QB Geno Smith
My Saturday night "twitter battles" re-affirmed what I already knew. College football fans are passionate about their opinions. That's great, that kind of interest keeps my side of the business employed. I also tweeted that night, "I just hope the nation is just as passionate about the real IMPORTANT vote on Tuesday." I welcome your opinion. Please comment on our web site and let me know if you have a Heisman candidate that I may not have mentioned above.