Heisman Change We Can Vote For
The Heisman Trophy votes were due Monday. To borrow a phrase from the last major U.S. election, it was time to hit the reset button.
No, I didn't vote for Barack Obama. He hasn't been nearly as dominant lately as the players on my ballot.
They represent true hope and change. Hope that a Heisman win will change the way people think about white running backs and grunts of all color.
I pulled the lever for Ndamukong Suh. Sorry, Colt McCoy fans. I double-checked Suh's birth certificate and he was born in the United States.
OutSports' thumbs-up is not why Toby Gerhart got my second-place vote. He was simply the best player out there except for the monster at defensive tackle for Nebraska. My third-place vote went to Clemson's C.J. Spiller, the only truly breathtaking player in the land.
If for any reason Suh is unable to fulfill his duties as Heisman winner, I'd have no problem with Gerhart assuming the stiff-arm position. Both break stereotypes that need shattering.
I'll admit I went into last Saturday thinking inside the Heisman box. I wanted to vote for Tim Tebow, if for no other reason than I wanted the first two-time virgin winner. Alas, Timmy was deflowered by Alabama.
I turned my gaze to McCoy. The Heisman's not supposed to be a lifetime achievement award, but McCoy's college lifetime has been so good he deserves at least a stiff elbow, if not the entire arm.
But the more I watched Nebraska-Texas, the more obvious it became that Suh was by far the best player on the field. It also didn't help that McCoy had as many interceptions in that game (three) as Boise State's Kellen Moore has had all year.
I'll also admit I never thought I'd vote for a Stanford player unless Tiger Woods paid me off. Then I started watching Gerhart and realized just how great he is. I also realized he is -- how do I put this nicely? -- caucasian.
According the NCAA, NFL, CFL and ACORN, white guys can't run. Who was the last white tailback anyone heard of, Brian Piccolo?
Seriously, the last 1,000-yard rusher in the NFL was Craig James in 1985. It hasn't been much better for backs of pallor in college. And we all know why, right?
"They can't compete with us," Eric Dickerson told the Orlando Sentinel in 2004. "The black athlete, especially at that position, is faster, more elusive. That's just a position made for agility. It's kind of like our chosen position."
I'm no anthropologist, but the facts back that up. Still, you can't tell me that of the millions of white males born in the United States over the past 30 years none have been fast or shifty enough to tote the rock.
There's an institutional bias at work, the same kind of mindset that used to turn black quarterbacks into receivers and defensive backs. Forget his 1,736 yards and 26 touchdowns, you just know NFL scouts have Gerhart penciled in as a fullback or tight end or owner's son-in-law.
Not that a player's NFL prospects matter in the Heisman. If they did, Suh would take home the entire Downtown Athletic Club trophy case Saturday. The only argument against him and Gerhart is that they played on four-loss teams.
The last player to win the Heisman on a team with that many pre-bowl losses was Jay Berwanger, the original winner in 1935. Paul Hornung won it for 2-8 Notre Dame in 1956, but that just proved how sportswriters would have voted for J. Fred Muggs if he were a Domer.
Where is it written that only players from teams with zero or one loss can win the Heisman? You know what that gets you?
Troy Smith. Jason White. Gino Torretta. If not for Suh and Gerhart, Nebraska and Stanford would have been Iowa State and Florida Atlantic.
What we have here is another perfect electoral storm. People are tired of the old ways and we have two once-in-a-lifetime candidates.
Gerhart could alter how coaches look at tailbacks. Maybe they'll see potential first, not color.
Ndamukong could prove that a boy named Suh could grow up, become a defensive tackle and still be named America's most outstanding college football player.
Either one would be change we could truly believe in.