As you've very likely heard by now (perhaps ad nauseam), ESPN executives, er, the Heisman Trust awarded Johnny Manziel with the 2012 Heisman Trophy Saturday night in New York City. Manziel became the first ever freshman to win the award after putting up some ridiculous numbers this past season. But let's talk about those numbers shall we.
There is a fair and compelling argument in favor of his statistics and if you're so inclined, I'd strongly suggest that you click here. As you've probably gathered, I will be presenting the other side of that argument. Admittedly, it's a losing argument and very clearly irrelevant as Manziel won the award last night, but for the purposes of conversation I'll make it anyway.
The first point is one I've made before, but is no less valid today than the first time I made it. Every quarterback who has ever played in this same offensive system that Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M employ has had their stats crapped on as a "product of the system." However, it would seem that double standard was conveniently not in play this year for Manziel. He captured the attention of the college football universe, and for good reason, and was the benefactor of the ESPN/SEC hype machine.
Is that his fault? Absolutely not. Does it change the fact that it happened and without question played a role in his win Saturday night? No. No, it does not. But I digress.
Let's get to those statistics. If you followed that link, saw the excellent graphic Good Bull Hunting put together, you can appreciate just how impressive they truly are. That said, when you break down who/where those stats actually came from it does provide some perspective.
Manziel finished with 4,600 total yards and scored 43 touchdowns on the ground and through the air this season. However, consider what he did in the Aggies less than impressive non-conference games. In true SEC fashion, Texas A&M faced the gauntlet of Southern Methodist, South Carolina State, Louisiana Tech, and Sam Houston State in their four non-conference games. To be fair, La Tech was far from horrible this past season, but also offered absolutely nothing in the way of defensive resistance.
In those four games, Manziel "padded his stats" much like every other 'Air Raid' quarterback typically has in similar type games. Manziel put up 1,130 passing yards (or 33.05% of his season total), 483 rush yards (or 40.89% of his season total), and a whopping 22 total touchdowns (or 51.16 of his season total).
If you extract those inflated numbers and simply look at what he did during the conference season, against a much more competitive schedule, things are quite as rosy. In his eight conference games, Manziel tallied 2,289 passing yards and 698 rush yards, a still fairly impressive 286 and 87 yards per game respectively. Simple math will also tell you it took him those eight conference games to amass 21 touchdowns versus the four above in which he put up his other 22 total scores.
Further illustrating my point, if you look at the three games on Texas A&M's schedule that the majority of the population would deem their only true challenges, the numbers are again not really in Manziel's favor. His stat lines against Florida, LSU, and Alabama were in following:
- 20-23 for 173 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 17 rushes for 60 yards & 1 TD (Loss)
- 29-56 for 276 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 17 rushes for 27 yards & 0 TD (Loss)
- 24-31 for 253 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 18 rushes for 92 yards & 0 TD (Win)
Call it sour grapes if you like. I suspect the Aggies will, with a couple other choice words I'm sure. But it's not like Oklahoma had a candidate in New York that lost out to Manziel. And it's certainly not as if I'm the only one making this argument.
Ultimately, the award is meaningless other than the autograph signing gigs it has assured him in for his foreseeable future. Contrary to what I expect many will claim, this wasn't an attempt to discredit Manziel winning the Heisman as much as it was an attempt to point out the obvious, yet unacknowledged by many, hypocrisy behind the biggest reason he won, his artificially inflated statistics.