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Joe Girvan's 2013 Heisman Manifesto

Dec 15, 2013 -- 10:33am
By: Joe Girvan
ESPN 106.3 on WPTV/WFLX Sports Anchor
Twitter: @JoeGirvan1063
 
Surreal.  How else to describe the season of college football’s most outstanding player?  Before we tell the story though, we need to lay some ground rules.  Here is what the first page of the online ballot says:  

“The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award is presented each year to the Outstanding College Football Player in the United States.”  

That’s it.  The only other instruction is that candidates must be students of an accredited college or university, and in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA Student-Athlete.  Oh sure, you can track down the Heisman Trust mission statement and find this:  “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”  When it comes time to vote, however, the very simple instructions we are given do not include the words “character” nor “integrity.”  As a voter, I take solace in that.  Let’s be honest -- I do not know what these young men are like away from the football field.  It is not possible to make informed character decisions on each of the candidates, as I watch them play football on my TV.  If the NCAA, or one of its member institutions, decides to suspend a player for misconduct, that changes things.  Otherwise, who am I to sit in judgment?  We are not electing a Pope, people, we are voting for the most outstanding college football player in the United States.  

The Heisman is an annual award.  That means only this season matters.  I don’t care if a player was all-world last year, or fourth string.  Only the 2013 season counts.  Finally, we are splitting hairs among the very best players in the country.  While I am extremely confident in my first choice, the second and third spots could have gone to any number of deserving candidates.  Chances are you will disagree with my selections.  I am not right, and you are not wrong.  So let the debate begin…

Honorable mentions:  AJ McCarron, Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater,  Andre Williams, Ka’Deem Carey, Marcus Mariota, Tre Mason, Jordan Lynch, Braxton Miller, and Carlos Hyde.  

A note on Jordan Lynch:  He is one heck of a player, but piled up numbers against lackluster competition.  Just imagine what Johnny Manziel would have done against Northern Illinois’ schedule.  Now think about Lynch versus Texas A&M’s opponents. I think we’re done here. 

A note on AJ McCarron:  Consider this – if Alabama had beaten Auburn, McCarron might have had a puncher’s chance of winning the Heisman.  Instead, a loss that ended with a bizarre special teams touchdown killed those hopes.  That tells you his candidacy was more about Alabama’s team success, than McCarron’s individual prowess.  Some people want to make this a Lifetime Achievement Award after his three tremendous seasons.  It’s not.  Good player, but not one of the top three in the country this year.  

The three players on my ballot are all quarterbacks.  That should not surprise you, it is the most important position in sports.  They are the only players ranked among the nation’s top ten in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and passing efficiency.  Each is also a threat to run. 

Third place - Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

By the numbers:  270-391, 3,732 yards, 69.1%, 33 TD, 13 INT, 686 yards rushing, 8 rush TDs

National ranks:  9th in passing yards, 6th in passing TDs, 4th in passing efficiency,  6th in points responsible for.  Texas A&M was the SEC’s highest-scoring offense, and 6th in the nation, at 43.6 points per game.

At his best, Manziel could easily be considered the most outstanding player in the country for a second-straight year.  We often hear about the “eye test.”  Manziel passed it week after week, leaving me shaking my head and asking, “How did he do that?!”  Against Nick Saban’s two-time defending national champs, Johnny Football racked up 562 yards of total offense and five touchdowns.  It was the second most total yards in SEC history, and he did it against one of the best defenses in the country.  Manziel is the consensus First-Team All-SEC quarterback, not McCarron.  There was inconsistency, however, and Manziel bears varying degrees of responsibility for the Aggies’ four losses.  I talked about penalizing players who are suspended for misconduct, and Manziel was.  It was only a half, and he was still the most important player on the field that day, but it is part of my overall thought process.

Second place - Bryce Petty, Baylor

By the numbers:  220-356, 3,844 yards, 61.8%, 30 TD, 2 INT, 192 yards rushing, 11 rush TDs.

National ranks:  7th in passing yards, 9th in passing TDs, 2nd in passing efficiency,  6th in points responsible for.  Baylor had the #1 in scoring offense in the country, at 53.3 ppg.  The Bears won a school-record 11 games, and their first Big 12 championship.  

Petty is the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.  He led Baylor to unprecedented heights, and that is saying something, just a couple years after fellow Bear Robert Griffin III won the Heisman.  Petty is the engine that made Baylor’s up-tempo offense go.  This is where some of you will scream, “He’s a product of the system!”  Yep, he sure is.  By the way, every football player is a product of his system.  I am not going to penalize Petty for running his system at a high level, any more than I would Boston College’s Andre Williams, or Arizona St.’s Ka’Deem Carey, who ranked 1-2 in the country for most carries.  Some will knock Baylor’s schedule.  The reality is the Bears faced four defenses which ranked in the nation’s top 50 in both total defense and scoring defense.  That is the same number the eventual winner of this award faced this season.  Petty only has one loss on his resume, and it came on the road, against a very good Oklahoma St. team.  In that loss, Petty threw for 359 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.  Auburn’s Tre Mason is the Flavor of the Month right now, and deservedly so, but for purposes of this discussion, I’ll take Petty’s season-long consistency over Mason’s late-season surge.    

First place - Jameis Winston, Florida St.

By the numbers:   237-349, 3,820 yards, 67.9%, 38 TD, 10 INT, 193 yards rushing, 4 rush TDs.

National ranks:  8th in passing yards, 2nd in passing TDs, 1st  in passing efficiency,  4th in points responsible for.  The Seminoles had the second-highest scoring offense in the country at 53.0 ppg.  FSU is 13-0, ranked #1, and will play Auburn for the National Championship.

As a voter, this is simply a question of whether you are going to penalize Winston for being the subject of a sexual assault investigation.  As the vote totals will reveal, there is little question he is the most outstanding college football player in the country this year.  Winston led the Seminoles to an undefeated regular season, and a spot in the National Championship game.  He is the ACC Player of the Year.  If you are into so-called “Heisman moments,” Winston has a highlight reel full of them.  His patience, poise, and leadership ability are uncommon for a redshirt freshman.  There is no doubt Winston has outstanding weapons at his disposal, but didn’t first-round NFL draft pick EJ Manuel have most of them last year?  You can question FSU’s strength of schedule, but not the results.  The Seminoles led the nation in margin of victory, winning by an average – an average! – of 42.3 ppg.  

The United States of America has the best judicial system in the world.  It is far from perfect, but it is the best.  Jameis Winston was not arrested, nor charged with a crime.  He was not suspended by Florida State at any time.  I am not paid to collect evidence, nor interview suspects.  All I can do is trust the decisions made by those in law enforcement.  Mistakes are sometimes made, and perhaps they were in this case.  Unfortunately, I don’t know and neither do you.  What I do know is this:  Winston was a student of an accredited university, and in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA Student-Athlete. 

Some of my fellow Heisman voters will choose to play the role of morality police, and penalize Winston.  I would love to know what evidence they have, that the police and Tallahassee State Attorney’s office didn’t.  They will pass judgment because of an accusation, while assuming from the comfort of their couches that other candidates are of high moral fiber, as they individually define what that is.  I find this irresponsible.     

So there it is, my 2013 Heisman Trophy Ballot – Winston, Petty, Manziel.  It was a season unlike any other.  For Jameis Winston, it must have been surreal.

Note: Joe Girvan has been a Heisman voter since 2002.  

ESPN West Palm Teaming With ESPN on Boca Raton Bowl

Oct 11, 2013 -- 12:50pm

From ESPN Press Release

ESPN Regional Television, a subsidiary of ESPN, announced the creation of the Boca Raton Bowl in a six-year agreement beginning in 2014. The pre-Christmas bowl game will be affiliated with the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference with each conference participating an expected four times during the six-year span.

The bowl game will be played at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla., on the campus of Florida Atlantic University and nationally televised on ESPN or ESPN2. The open-air stadium opened in 2011 and seats just under 30,000 fans.

The local sales of the bowl game will be handled by ESPN West Palm, which is the FAU radio broadcast partner.

Quotes
“We are pleased to be able to bring post season college football to the Boca Raton area and host institutions from the MAC, American and C-USA,” said Pete Derzis, Senior Vice President & GM, ESPN Regional Television. The many amenities of this area will make this a wonderful experience for the participating teams, their fans and administrators.”

“Our community is excited to serve as hosts for the Boca Raton Bowl,” said Patrick Chun, director of athletics, Florida Atlantic University. “The national exposure associated with ESPN will be beneficial to our region, county, city and university on many levels. We are thankful to all of our local government officials and community leaders for making this game a reality. We look forward to building one of the best bowl experiences in college football.”

“We are pleased to be a participant in the Boca Raton Bowl,” said Mike Aresco, commissioner, American Athletic Conference. “We look forward to rewarding a deserving American Athletic Conference team with a berth in this quality postseason game. In partnering with this bowl and its outstanding management, we provide another wonderful opportunity for our student-athletes, our schools and our conference to gain national exposure in a destination that is both extremely attractive and accessible to our schools and their fans.”

“I am excited this bowl will provide yet another exciting destination for our fans and student-athletes, said Britton Banowsky, commissioner, Conference USA. “When Pat Chun and I first discussed this idea more than a year ago, we thought it had great potential. It is satisfying to see how the community has come together to showcase their region and a stadium within view of the Atlantic Ocean. We are particularly appreciative of ESPN for providing the key leadership. We are confident this game will benefit those involved for many years to come.”

“The Mid-American Conference is pleased to join with ESPN and several other conferences in the creation of the Boca Bowl,” said Jon A. Steinbrecher, commissioner, Mid-American Conference. “This has all the ingredients for an excellent bowl game: great location, great facilities for student-athletes and fans, and hungry teams. I am eagerly anticipating the inaugural game in December of 2014.”

“Our team at ESPN West Palm is thrilled and honored to be a part of the first Bowl game in Palm Beach County history,” said Steve Politziner, Good Karma Broadcasting vice president and ESPN West Palm general manager. “We look forward to doing our part to ensure a great experience for fans, and to provide a new marketing opportunity for the local business community.”

Lou Groza Award Watch List Announced

Jul 11, 2013 -- 12:13pm

From Palm Beach Sports Commission

Looking to become just the second repeat winner in Groza history, Tulane senior Cairo Santos headlines the thirty-player Watch List for the 2013 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, as announced by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

 

Santos won the 2012 Groza with the first 21-for-21 field goal season in FBS history. If he defends his title, he would join former Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski (1998 & 1999) as the only players to win multiple Grozas. In addition to last year’s winner, 10 other semifinalists from last season return, including San Jose State sophomore Austin Lopez, whose 17-for-17 season made him the only other kicker to stay perfect on field goals with at least one attempt per game.

 

Coming just short of perfection, all eight returning kickers who attempted at least 10 field goals and connected on better than 85% make the Watch List: Northwestern senior Jeff Budzien (95%), Clemson senior Chandler Catanzaro (94.7%), Eastern Michigan sophomore Dylan Mulder (90.9%), Boston College senior Nate Freese (90%), Colorado State junior Jared Roberts (90%), Michigan senior Brendan Gibbons, a Cardinal Newman grad (88.9%), Oregon State junior Trevor Romaine (88.9%) and Duke sophomore Ross Martin (87%).

 

Moving from accuracy to volume, all eight returning kickers who converted at least 20 field goals were also part of the Watch List: Toledo junior Jeremiah Detmer (24), Rice senior Chris Boswell (23), Notre Dame junior Kyle Brindza (23), TCU sophomore Jaden Oberkrom (22), Santos (21), Virginia Tech senior Cody Journell (20), Martin (20), and Vanderbilt senior Carey Spear (20).

 

Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2012 season and 2013 expectations. Ten conferences are represented among the 30 kickers, led by four each from the ACC, Big Ten, Conference USA and the MAC, while the Mountain West placed three representatives. The American, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and the Sun Belt each had two kickers recognized, along with independent Notre Dame. While the Watch List highlights thirty of the best returning kickers in the country, Santos, who was not on the 2012 Watch List, stands as proof that the Groza Committee will be watching all FBS kickers during the season, and releasing a weekly “Stars of the Week” feature on www.lougrozaaward.com.

 

Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award will announce its 20 semifinalists on Monday, November 4th. From this list, a panel of more than 300 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members, and former winners selects the top three finalists for the award by Monday, November 25th. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Thursday, December 12th during the Home Depot College Football Awards, broadcast live from Orlando, Fla.

VIDEO: Former Canes excited about future of the program

Jul 01, 2013 -- 1:23pm

Former Northwood standout is now a Harlem Globetrotter

Jun 25, 2013 -- 5:28pm

From ESPN 106.3 Staff and Northwood Media Relations 

This past season, Tyrone Davis was an NAIA All-American at Northwood University (West Palm Beach, Fla). This season, Davis will be a Harlem Globetrotter. 

The point guard was one of five athletes selected in the seventh annual Harlem Globetrotters player draft. 

The 5-2 guard from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla, led the nation in assists (7.86 per game), and also led the Seahawks – where he played for legendary coach Rollie Massimino – with 2.3 steals a game, earning a spot on the Sun Conference All-Defensive Team to follow up his 2011-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year campaign.  Davis set the school record for career assists and steals before he even entered his senior season, a season in which he helped lead Northwood to a 30-4 record.

UM President Donna Shalala's Statement on NCAA's Notice of Allegations

Feb 20, 2013 -- 9:53pm

University Release: 

“The University of Miami deeply regrets and takes full responsibility for those NCAA violations that are based on fact and are corroborated by multiple individuals and/or documentation.  We have already self-imposed a bowl ban for an unprecedented two-year period, forfeited the opportunity to participate in an ACC championship game, and withheld student-athletes from competition.
 
Over the two and a half years since the University of Miami first contacted the NCAA enforcement staff about allegations of rules violations, the NCAA interviewed dozens of witnesses, including current and former Miami employees and student-athletes, and received thousands of requested documents and emails from the University.  Yet despite our efforts to aid the investigation, the NCAA acknowledged on February 18, 2013 that it violated its own policies and procedures in an attempt to validate the allegations made by a convicted felon.  Many of the allegations included in the Notice of Allegations remain unsubstantiated. 
 
Now that the Notice of Allegations has been issued, let me provide some context to the investigation itself:
 
·         Many of the charges brought forth are based on the word of a man who made a fortune by lying. The NCAA enforcement staff acknowledged to the University that if Nevin Shapiro, a convicted con man, said something more than once, it considered the allegation “corroborated”—an argument which is both ludicrous and counter to legal practice.
 
·         Most of the sensationalized media accounts of Shapiro’s claims are found nowhere in the Notice of Allegations.  Despite their efforts over two and a half years, the NCAA enforcement staff could not find evidence of prostitution, expensive cars for players, expensive dinners paid for by boosters, player bounty payments, rampant alcohol and drug use, or the alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts given to student-athletes, as reported in the media.  The fabricated story played well—the facts did not. 
 
·         The NCAA enforcement staff failed, even after repeated requests, to interview many essential witnesses of great integrity who could have provided first-hand testimony, including, unbelievably, Paul Dee, who has since passed away, but who served as Miami Athletic Director during many of the years that violations were alleged to have occurred.  How could a supposedly thorough and fair investigation not even include the Director of Athletics? 
 
·         Finally, we believe the NCAA was responsible for damaging leaks of unsubstantiated allegations over the course of the investigation.   
 
Let me be clear again: for any rule violation—substantiated and proven with facts—that the University, its employees, or student-athletes committed, we have been and should be held accountable.  We have worked hard to improve our compliance oversight, and we have already self-imposed harsh sanctions.   
 
We deeply regret any violations, but we have suffered enough. 
 
The University and counsel will work diligently to prepare our official response to the Notice of Allegations and submit it to the Committee on Infractions within the required 90-day time period. 
 
We trust that the Committee on Infractions will provide the fairness and integrity missing during the investigative process.”
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