Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Thankfully, the freshman got the votes
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy, outscoring runner-up Manti Teo by more than 300 Heisman voting points. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
FAYETTEVILLE Perhaps college football owes it to Johnny Manziel already to declare the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner the Heisman winner for 2013.
For without Johnny Football, Imaginary Football would epitomize college football’s most coveted individual award as the latest national joke.
Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, with the imaginary dead girlfriend off the field and on the field rendered somewhat of an imaginary linebacker when Alabama ran all over him and the Irish in the January national championship game, was the 2012 Heisman runner-up in December to Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Manziel’s 2,029 Heisman voting points, that include 474 first-place votes to Te’o’s 1,706 points and 321 first-place votes, was a comfortable margin yet now seems uncomfortably close given what has transpired since the Heisman was presented.
As often happens in the bowl season, luster gets lost for the Heisman winner or top contenders as it did for Te’o against Alabama, though certainly not for Manziel excelling in the Cotton Bowl with 516 yards passing and running while routing Oklahoma.
A bad game like Te’o’s is most everybody’s reality at some point.
However, there has been nothing like Te’o for losing luster for nothing to do with reality. The dead girlfriend, whose alleged demise from leukemia allegedly inspired Te’o to his great regular season for the then undefeated Irish, turned out to be an online hoax who never existed.
The debate rages on whether Te’o was at best an unwitting dupe of a hoax or, at worst, an active part of a cynical scam to embellish his Heisman Trophy campaign with a tug at the heartstrings story so compelling that major media outlets tripped over themselves to retell it.
Whatever, neither a dupe nor a con man is what the Heisman has in mind, though at least one who won it, O.J. Simpson, was judged far worse decades after his Heisman election.
Nobody knows what lies in Manziel’s future. However, it’s a cinch his immediate on-the-field past proved he deserved the Heisman that some felt he shouldn’t receive simply because he was a freshman.
Thanks now in part to the senior runner-up with the imaginary girlfriend, we can’t imagine future worthy freshman Heisman candidates not receiving first-place votes simply because they are freshmen.
At the team-scored Razorback Invitational meet Friday and Saturday at the University of Arkansas’ Randal Tyson Indoor Track, fans can preview much of the SEC and NCAA Indoor Championships that Arkansas hosts in February and March.
The men’s field includes seven teams in the top 25 - including the top three, Arkansas, reigning NCAA indoor champion Florida and Texas - No. 9 Arizona, No. 10 LSU, No. 16 Florida State and No. 24 Oklahoma.
The women’s field includes four of the top five SEC teams, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Florida, No. 7 Arkansas and No. 17 Georgia, and from outside the SEC No. 12 Arizona, No. 14 Texas, No. 15 Baylor and No. 21 Nebraska.
Sports, Pages 18 on 01/21/2013