In the final weekend of the regular season — one full of conference championship games, big-time matchups and BCS bowl clinchers — some of college football’s biggest names get one final shot to cement their spots at the New York Downtown Athletic Club for the annual Heisman Trophy presentation.
Last weekend, some of the game’s current giants were given that exact opportunity, and they completely crumbled under the national spotlight.
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy almost cost the Longhorns a spot in the BCS National Championship Game, throwing three interceptions and almost letting time expire in the fourth quarter with his team down two points.
Texas barely slinked past Nebraska, but that can be more attributed to the Cornhuskers’ lack of offense (they only posted five first downs) than McCoy’s heroics.
And the nation’s Golden Boy, Tim Tebow, was completely shut down by Alabama. Can any Heisman voter really say they were impressed with No. 15’s performance — or the measly 13 points his offense put up in the SEC Championship?
No, but he was invited to New York. Same with McCoy.
I’m not saying they shouldn’t be — both players are good enough to at least be considered for the award. But there was one player who blew up on Saturday, who proved he may be the best player in America, and he was snubbed by the committee for no apparent reason.
He’s Clemson’s C.J. Spiller, and he’s arguably the most exciting player in the nation.
A Heisman winner is supposed to show up in big games, and that’s just what he did in last weekend’s ACC Championship, which Clemson lost in a heartbreaker, 39-34. What’s bigger than four touchdowns, a staggering 233 rushing yards, 301 all-purpose yards and the career record for single-season touchdowns at his respective school?
And it’s not like that was an isolated incident. Spiller posted a ridiculous 310 all-purpose yards — including a 56-yard touchdown and a 90-yard kickoff return — in an overtime upset of then-No. 10 Miami in October.
With more than 2,500 yards, Spiller is No. 5 this season in all-purpose yards. He’s gaining almost 10 yards every time he touches the ball. How has he not garnered Heisman interest?
Toby Gerhart from Stanford skyrocketed on people’s lists after a big game against lowly Notre Dame. On the field after the game, his coach publicly told the nation that his running back deserved to win the award. Does it take shameless self-promotion like that to get players from a non-BCS Championship contender into the mix? Apparently.
Well, Spiller isn’t going to get that kind of endorsement from his more modest coach, Dabo Swinney.
“He left it on the field and that’s all you can ask,” Swinney told reporters after Spiller’s awe-inspiring day in the ACC Championship.
The fact is, C.J. Spiller is — at the bare minimum — one of the nation’s five best players this season. He’s done more for his team, a Tiger club that is on the rise after firing coach Tommy Bowden last season, than anyone on the exclusive list. I mean, how many people could say they thought Clemson would be within a few minutes of a BCS bowl this year?
And for the few people out there that believe the Heisman is some kind of career achievement award — that Tebow or McCoy should win it in spite of their less productive senior years because their whole careers deserve acknowledgement — who has had a better four years than Spiller? He’s second on the list of currently active players in all-purpose yards, with more than 7,400 yards and 50 touchdowns.
For the record, that’s just four scores behind Tebow, who touches the ball every play.
They’ve already decided to retire his jersey number at Clemson. The Heisman committee should have felt compelled to honor him, too.
— Reid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.