Heisman should look at defense

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, October 22, 2008

While watching the review of Saturday’s college football games on ESPN’s Sports Center before going to church Sunday morning, my dear friend Billy Simmons Jr. and I got into a discussion about this year’s Heisman Trophy race.

We agreed that quarterback Colt McCoy of the University of Texas Longhorns was probably the front runner at the present time but University of Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford was not far behind.

I told Billy I thought McCoy, Bradford, University of Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, who won the Heisman Trophy last year, and several others, including University of Georgia Bulldogs outstanding junior quarterback Matthew Stafford, are legitimate candidates for the big prize this year, but I have one pet peeve about the Heisman Trophy selection process in general.

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My pet peeve is simply this. The Downtown Athletic Club in New York City which awards the Heisman Trophy each year bills it as the award for the best college football player in the country. The problem is only a handful of times in the long history of the award has it gone to a defensive player.

Today I don’t think defensive players are even considered for the award. There are many defensive players throughout the country each year who are just as good at their positions as many of their outstanding offensive counterparts are at theirs.

If the Downtown Athletic Club does not want to consider defensive players for their Heisman Trophy, that is fine, but if that is the case, they should not say the award is for the best college football player in the country. Instead, they should say it is for the best offensive college football player in the country.

Some argue that the reason defensive players are left out of the Heisman Trophy conversation most seasons is that it is difficult to evaluate their value to the team.

The argument goes something like this. One week a defensive end might lead the team in tackles and the next game a linebacker might be the tackle leader. Top offensive leaders, by contrast, usually remain the same from week to week.

I go back to that old saying that is true for any sport. Offense makes headlines, but defense wins games. If the defense does its job, your favorite team might tie, but they are not going to lose.

I’m sure the Downtown Athletic Club is not going to change their Heisman trophy profile on my account. My hope is that they just might give the defensive players a little more scrutiny when they pick the finalists for the award.

I don’t really think that is too much to ask. Do you?