Archive for Saturday, December 12, 2009

Stanford RB earns my vote

December 12, 2009

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Voter’s remorse. It happens nearly every year. It used to hit when the envelope containing a Heisman Trophy ballot fell into the mailbox. Now it occurs upon stroking the send button.

I had no such regrets in 1992, when I gave my first-place vote to eventual third-place winner Garrison Hearst, a Georgia running back, and left Gino Torretta off my three-deep ballot. Torretta didn’t have nearly as strong a case as Hearst. Back then, Heisman hype seemed to figure more in the voting.

Now the outcomes seem less about hype and more about substance. Nobody was hyped harder this year than four-year Texas starter Colt McCoy, the winningest quarterback in college football history, but he won’t win.

Predicted results to be announced on tonight’s 7 p.m. ESPN show: 1. Alabama running back Mark Ingram, 2. Stanford RB Toby Gerhart, 3. McCoy, 4. Florida QB Tim Tebow, 5. Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

My ballot: 1. Gerhart, 2. Boise State sophomore quarterback Kellen Moore, 3. Ingram.

Hype still has influence, and strangely, Moore, a 6-foot, 187-pound sophomore from Prosser, Wash., received little of it. His numbers were nothing short of phenomenal, starting with a 13-0 record. He threw 39 touchdown passes and just three interceptions. Five of his TD strikes came on Nov. 27 against a Nevada team that had not lost a game in conference play until that day. Just a sophomore who plays in the thin Western Athletic Conference, Moore never was a serious contender. Maybe next year.

The toughest call came when casting a third-place vote. Should it go to Suh or Ingram? The battle waged in my brain went something like this: If I give it to Suh and omit Ingram, am I subconsciously doing so to try to rig the deck for Gerhart, the guy I’ve backed for the past month? If I vote for Ingram, am I putting too much emphasis on Suh’s quiet day against Kansas because I was at the game and not enough on Suh’s effort against Texas (41⁄2 sacks) in the Big 12 title game?

Unable to watch it because I was in the air, flying to Los Angeles to cover the KU-UCLA basketball game, I only read about it.

As soon as I pressed the button, I wondered if I had done the right thing and hoped the third-place waffle wouldn’t affect the outcome, which in theory could happen if Ingram edges Gerhart by a vote.

Putting Gerhart on top was the easiest decision. He led the nation with 1,736 yards and 26 rushing touchdowns. He gained 200 yards on the ground against Washington, 223 against Oregon, 205 vs. Notre Dame. Against strong competition in the final four weeks — Oregon, USC, California and Notre Dame — he averaged 185.5 yards rushing and scored 13 touchdowns. Gerhart’s first pass of his college career went for a TD against ND.

Gerhart wears No. 7, stands 6-1, and weighs 235 pounds. He comes from Norco, as country a town as there is in Southern California. He played for his father at Norco High, where Toby’s parents were high school sweethearts.

Gerhart deserves to become Stanford’s second Heisman Trophy winner, following quarterback Jim Plunkett (1970). John Elway? He finished second to Herschel Walker in 1982.

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