As many years as I have been a Heisman Trophy voter, this may have been the most difficult season I can remember.
Many of the preseason Heisman Trophy candidates kept falling out of the race as the season progressed. In the end there was no Marcus Mariota, after Oregon dropped out of the national championship picture.
Johnny Manziel had better numbers than last season, but his Texas A&M team suffered four losses. AJ McCarron probably lost his chance to win it when Alabama lost to Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. It allowed Auburn running back Tre Mason to leapfrog a lot of candidates and he would finish sixth overall.
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was a preseason No. 1 choice on at least one website. But Miller was inconsistent and the Buckeyes lost to Michigan State. He finished ninth in Heisman voting.
Others projected in a preseason Heisman poll included Georgia QB Aaron Murray, Stanford QB Kevin Hogan, Clemson QB Tajh Boyd, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater and Michigan QB Devin Gardner. None of those finished in the top 10 Saturday.
The only question concerning Heisman winner Jameis Winston was after he was accused of a sexual assault on a woman in Tallahassee. Because the Heisman Trust has added a clause in its mission statement that voters should not only vote for the best player in college football, but also find the candidates to be men of integrity.
I was one of many voters who waited until Winston was either acquitted or charged. Even though there were some other incidents in Winston’s past, such as when he and some buddies were in a fast food restaurant and an employee said that Winston was taking paper ketchup cups and filling them with soft drinks and drinking them without
Here’s why I went ahead and voted for Winston. He was far and away the best player on the best team and without him, the Seminoles would not have gone undefeated.
I also voted for him in hopes that if he won the Heisman, it would help make him a better person. I think peer pressure and being around all the former Heisman winners would afford them a chance to mentor him.
I think the pressure of being a Heisman winner would prevent anyone from doing something that would discredit the Heisman award. I think it affected an immature Manziel and let’s not forget that Winston is the youngest (19) Heisman Trophy winner in the history of the award. I shudder to think that some of the things I did when I was that age would be made public information.
FSU Coach Jimbo Fisher told Winston for him to be a man, the kid in him must die.
“I believe the kid in me has died," Winston said in New York City. “I’m always going to have my personality. I’m always going to have my character. But I have to become a man."
His 2,206 points eclipsed runner-up McCarron’s point total of 704 by one of the largest margins ever. It could have been worse if not for the 115 voters who failed to put Winston on their ballot. They had to be voters who refused to vote for him because of his off the field publicity.
On the field Winston was deserving. I hope he understands he needs to be deserving off the field.
Sports Columnist Joe Biddle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.