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Heisman Voting Easy at the Moment

October 12, 2012
By JIM ELLIOTT (elliott@theintelligencer.net) , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

It was about a year ago this time when veteran West Virginia sports writer Mickey Furfari asked if I wished to become a Heisman Trophy voter.

It took about 0.5 seconds for me to say yes. After all, the only lists I could ever come up with where there were only 924 other people in the world doing it were lists that I made up on my own.

I felt it to be a tremendous honor, and I was so worried about missing the deadline, I sent my votes in two weeks early. And I'm fairly certain I was the only one.

That was 10 days before Robert Griffin III played Texas and ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more on his way to a 320-yard passing effort. He didn't just have a Heisman moment. He had 60 of them.

Anyway, I picked a guy who got kicked off his team before this season started, but in my defense, Tyrann Mathieu was the only one of them I saw play live and is the last guy I walked away from saying, 'that guy is the best football player I've ever seen.'

Fast forward to this year. I was a guest on a local TV show prior to the season telling those guys that Geno Smith wouldn't win the Heisman for three reasons. 1) I figured voters would view him as a system quarterback. Nearly all of Dana Holgorsen's quarterbacks have put up better numbers than the Heisman winner. None of them ever won it. 2) At the time, I had a hard time believing anyone from West Virginia University would ever win it. Perhaps RG3 knocked that kind of thinking down last year when he won it on a three-loss team at Baylor. 3) WVU had said it wouldn't promote him, but in this day and age - the 24-second news cycle - that's archaic thinking anyway.

Then the Mountaineers started playing in the Big 12. The media attention became 12-fold. And it has helped that there isn't a defense in the Big 12 that can keep up with an offense from the Big 12 (except for the ones that play Kansas).

ESPN has 15 ''experts'' who do a mock vote for the Heisman weekly for its website. I put experts in quotes, but let's face it, these guys have a rather large finger on the pulse of this, so there's some validity to it.

This week, Smith leads No. 2 Braxton Miller by 34 and has all 15 first-place votes. That's a runaway.

West Virginia fans will get a look at the guy who is third - Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein - next weekend. Fourth is Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas and fifth is USC quarterback Matt Barkley. After all, what Heisman list worth its salt wouldn't have a USC quarterback on it?

Barkley is 600 yards and nine touchdowns behind Smith and five interceptions ahead of him.

Digging deeper, the list has 18 names on it, and there are three players from West Virginia among the top 12, as receivers Tavon Austin (3) and Stedman Bailey (2) both received votes.

Another poll - the HeismanPundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll - has 11 voters on it and claims to be the most accurate Heisman poll in the country. It is made up of 11 Heisman voters from across the country who vote for three players each week. The final poll last season correctly picked the top seven finishers.

Smith leads that one by 14 on Klein and has 10 of the 11 first-place votes. The other first-place vote went to USC receiver Marqise Lee, who is 11th on the ESPN poll, one after Tavon and one ahead of Stedman. So there is a fickle nature to all of this.

Anyway, after the WVU-Baylor game, there was a writer who was bound and determined to write a story about Smith's Heisman chances. He asked everyone in the building, including Smith.

What Smith said was probably something uttered by no other candidate in the history of the award: ''I don't care about the Heisman Trophy.''

In his defense, he does too. In the days leading up to that game, he said he embraces the attention because he knows it can be fleeting.

To date, Smith has 24 touchdowns, zero interceptions, 1,996 yards, is the nation's most efficient passer, and is on an unbeaten team in a respected league.

Time will tell how this shakes out. But for now, Smith is running away with this award.

Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at: elliott@theintelligencer.net

 
 

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