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Would The Real Heisman Candidates Please Stand Up

Depending on what network you watch, who you listen to or what you read you may have noticed that there are a handful of "Heisman Frontrunners" out there right now. Many feel that Colt McCoy lighting up the worst defense in the Big 12 made him the clear frontrunner going into the final week of play. Others believe that it's Alabama's Mark Ingram who can become the first Tide football player to bring home the hardware with a solid performance against Florida. Speaking of Florida there's still the Tim Tebow factor out there and with all due respect to McCoy the best performance by a quarterback last weekend belonged to the holy one. Still there are some who believe the efforts of the individual account for the award and not necessarily the prestige of the team. For that reason Stanford's Toby Gerhart, Houston's Case Keenum and Clemson's CJ Spiller are in the conversation.

Some would say that in a year where there is no clear cut leader in the Heisman race then there really may not be a legitimate candidate. I disagree. I think that this is the way the race should shake out. The Downtown Athletic Club should invite the following five guys to New York City with each having a legitimate shot of their personal accomplishments earning them the most prestigious award in college football.

Toby Gerhart, Stanford Running Back - 311 rushes/1736 yards (5.6 ypc), 26 touchdowns, 1/1 passing, 18 yards, 1 touchdown, 10 receptions/149 yards (14.9 ypc). What Gerhart has against him is the fact that his regular season ended last week with the win over Notre Dame while Ingram, Keenum, McCoy and Tebow have the national spotlight of conference championship games this weekend. Don't blame Conference USA, the Big 12 and SEC for this blame the Pac 10 for not manning up and playing a conference championship game. Gerhart has been amazing this season as the workhorse for the Cardinal and at this point would be my frontrunner if I had a vote. Unfortunately his accomplishments may be lost in the hoopla of this coming weekend's events.

Mark Ingram, Alabama Running Back - 221 rushes/1429 yards (6.5 ypc), 12 touchdowns, 28 receptions/246 yards (8.8 yps), 3 touchdowns. Ingram has fewer touches, yards and touchdowns than McCoy but his 6.5 yards per carry is insane and he has the stage of the SEC championship game against Florida in his favor. After being nicked up a bit last week a big outing against the Gators could be labeled as a gusty performance and provide him a "Heisman moment."

Case Keenum, Houston Quarterback - 412/584 passing (70.5%), 4,922 yards, 38 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 49 rushes/120 yards (2.4 ypc), 4 touchdowns. If you're looking for the best quarterback in the country then here he is. Keenum also has one more game to pad his stats when the Cougars play East Carolina Saturday for the Conference USA championship. There's no reason why Keenum shouldn't be on anyone's ballot. Even the strength of schedule argument doesn't work here as he's led Houston to victories over two Big 12 and one SEC school.

Colt McCoy, Texas Quarterback - 310/432 passing (71.8%), 3,328 yards, 27 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 111 rushes/368 yards (3.3 ypc), 2 touchdowns. McCoy has been exactly what the Longhorns have needed him to be. He's been a leader both on and off the field, he's been the experienced quarterback who wills his team to victory, he's been the face of the franchise so to speak and he's been the model citizen. All of these things factor in to the process, or at least they should, but the one thing that McCoy has going for him that no other candidate does right now is the idea that he somehow got robbed last season. Don't underestimate the power of the sympathy vote because McCoy is going to get a share of them.

Tim Tebow, Florida Quarterback - 162/244 passing (66.4%), 2,166 yards, 17 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 193 rushes/796 yards (4.1 ypc), 13 touchdowns. Tebow's passing and rushing stats don't really stand out on their own but combined they become quite impressive. The question is, are they more impressive than any of the other guys on this list to which I must answer perhaps some but not all. Like Ingram, Tebow has the national stage in college football's game of the week and has the opportunity to sway votes. I believe that of anyone on this list Tebow needs a big performance Saturday because to this point of the season he's made it on name recognition and legacy more than anything else as far as the Heisman race is concerned.