As college football’s regular season winds down, we will have to wait to see who this year’s Heisman Trophy winner will be.
But as I write this, I am even more uncertain which three players I will put in order on my Heisman ballot. It is still wide open from where I sit.
ESPN does a weekly Heisman Trophy tracking poll in which 16 of its college football reporters provide information on how they will vote if they had to that week.
The latest poll had Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston first with 74 total points. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was second with 66 votes.
Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty was third with 37 points and Oregon quarterback Marcus Marriota was fourth with 30 points. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is a distant fifth with only 7 points.
Winston had put some distance between him and the others. That is, until a report leaked out that Winston had been investigated almost a year ago in a case that allegedly involved a female who claimed Winston had sexually assaulted her. She refused to press charges and the case was placed aside. He claimed they had consensual sex and last week it was learned that Winston’s DNA was found on the woman’s underwear, which in and of itself doesn’t prove he sexually assaulted her.
We must not fail to remember how what turned out to be false charges of rape against a number of Duke lacrosse players led to a lot of people pre-judging their guilt. When the facts came out, the Duke players were exonerated, but their reputations were sullied.
Will Heisman voters drop Winston because of allegations that have not been proven and will not likely go any further until after Heisman votes are due next month?
The ESPN panel has him eight points ahead of Manziel, so they seem to be taking a wait and see stance.
Manziel has experienced a wave of negative off the field publicity since winning the Heisman as a redshirt freshman. The NCAA investigated him and he sat out the first half of the season opener.
Johnny Football has been on his best behavior this season and his numbers are Heisman worthy. He has passed for 3,537 yards for 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, completing 69.1 percent of his passes. He has also run for 665 yards and eight TDs.
But Manziel had the worst game of his career last week in a loss at LSU. He passed for 224 yards, had one TD pass, but two interceptions in a un-Heisman like 16 of 41 passing, marking the first game he had completed less than 50 percent of his attempts. His QB rating was 30.4.
Manziel wasn’t the only Heisman candidate whose team has dropped out of the national championship picture. Baylor QB Bryce Petty saw his Bears roughed up by Oklahoma State, 49-17 in a wind-swept game.
Petty threw for 359 yards, two TDs, but his fumble deep in State territory was returned 78 yards for a TD that made it 42-10. Oregon and its QB Marcus Marriotta both went down in a loss to Arizona.
My dark-horse Heisman candidate is Alabama QB AJ McCarron. Forget McCarron’s numbers. He just wins, although throwing two interceptions for the first time this season against Mississippi State.
So who knows how it will work out? There’s still a lot of football left. For better or worse.
Contact Wilson Post Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at firstname.lastname@example.org.