Andrew Luck is the best NFL prospect since John Elway. In April, he’ll be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.
Tonight, the Heisman trophy was awarded. The Heisman is annually given to the most outstanding college football player who is most vital to his team’s success in a given year.
Andrew Luck is the best NFL player playing college football. But he didn’t deserve to win the Heisman.
Griffin, a junior quarterback from Baylor, meant more to his team that Luck or any other player did this year. Luck had all the hype – and deservedly so – but from a pure production standpoint, Griffin made Baylor relevant, and is the first player from Baylor ever to win the Heisman.
What Griffin’s done this season is nothing short of remarkable. He’s turned a routinely unmemorable Baylor team into a dangerous team capable of beating any team in the country on a given day. He eclipsed 387 yards per game, good for second in the nation. He threw 36 touchdowns, passed for 3,998 yards, and added nine touchdowns and 644 yards rushing on the ground. In contrast, Luck, the most pro-ready quarterback in college football had 35 touchdowns and 3,170 yards.
This year Griffin joined Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback who is currently the biggest story in the NFL, in gaining at least 9,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing in a career. Tebow won the Heisman in 2008.
Griffin’s win makes him the second straight African-American quarterback to win college football’s most prestigious title (Auburn QB and current Carolina Panther Cam Newton won last year). More importantly, Griffin was a “nontraditional” black quarterback this year.
While most, fairly or not, stereotype black quarterbacks as players capable of making more plays with their feet than their arm, Griffin shattered that myth this year.
While black quarterbacks have routinely been questioned for their decision-making and down field throwing, Griffin proved those skeptics wrong in a big way this year. His decision-making was superb, and he set a new NCAA record for passing efficiency this year with a 192.31 rating.
And he maintained the threat of running, using his legs when plays broke down. He turned plays that should’ve resulted in negative yards into game-breaking ones.
The most important stat in any sport is wins, and it’s unarguable that Griffin meant several wins for Baylor. He helped the team to a nine-win season, which was the first time the Bears won that many games since 1986.
Griffin shined the most in big games. He beat highly ranked teams in TCU and Oklahoma in impressive fashion, leading his team on game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. And if you value a player for picking up his teammates, also consider that Baylor’s defense gave up 477 yards per game. Oftentimes, Griffin was tasked with putting up points to offset the production his opponents were scoring on the Bears’ defense.
Griffin deserves the Heisman. Now that he has the award, the real test will begin. When he’s inevitably drafted in the first round in the NFL Draft, he will be tasked with breaking the perception that black quarterbacks are run-first, game-managers who aren’t capable of running complicated, dynamic offenses.
Griffin has shown he’s up for the challenge.
He’s proven that you can be an efficient, smart black quarterback, while still being dangerous on the ground. That in itself is worth an award.