Mayfield tests Heisman integrity clause. Again.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if there were an award that ``annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. The winners of the trophy [would] epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.’’

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Would Cam Newton, who left Florida early in his career amid stolen-laptop charges and who later was the subject of an investigation into whether his father received cash when Newton transferred, be eligible?

Would Johnny Manziel, a seemingly incorrigible carouser who used a fake ID and was arrested in a bar fight, be eligible?

Would Jameis Winston, who was cited for shoplifting crab legs at a supermarket but cleared of sexual-assault allegations, be eligible?

Not on my ballot.

But guess what? There is an award for a player who exhibits excellence with integrity, who combines great ability with diligence, perseverance and hard work.

That quote in the first paragraph comes from its Mission Statement.

It’s called the Heisman Trophy.

And Newton (Auburn, 2010), Manziel, (Texas A&M, 2012) and Winston (Florida State, 2013) all won it.

I guess everyone is entitled to their own interpretation of integrity.

I bring this up because. . . here we are again.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

We have an apparent best player in the nation who’s forcing us to choose between integrity (our own as well as his) and simply deciding who is most deserving, based on athletic performance.

I really wish the Heisman people would make life easier for all of us by simply removing the integrity clause.

The definition of integrity, by the way, goes like this: ``The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.’’

This is a trickier deal, this Baker Mayfield situation. Like Newton, Manziel and Winston, he’s an easy choice based on athletic deeds.

I’m not a fan of unsportstmanlike conduct. But if it’s a genuine show of emotion, I give it a little more wiggle room. Planting your flag on enemy turf? Maybe. But don’t do it again.

Crotch-grabbing? It is, in a way, freedom of expression. But it crosses a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

I’m not sure where to go with this one. Save for a few years, so to speak, when I was helping choose which man who toiled in foul-smelling pads hoisted the Vezina Trophy, I’ve been a Heisman voter since Doug Flutie (Hail Mary!) was our winner.

Oh, for those simpler times.

One of the problems this year is, if not Baker Mayfield, who?

Bryce Love has a case. But his team is not in the national-championship hunt, which has become important. And he not only has been dogged by injury. We, alas, don’t get to see much of him due to the Pac-12’s West Coast blackout.

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin’s marvelous freshman runner, also has many Heisman-like attributes. But he’s more of a future consideration.

Saquon Barkley? The man who seemed anointed to strike the pose has faded behind a wobbly offensive line and some bad-optics losses. Neither of those problems are entirely his doing, but nobody ever said the Heisman Trophy race was fair.

Well, I certainly didn’t.

And I’m saying it again.

Not sure yet where to come down on the Baker Mayfield dilemma. He’s acting contrite, which is good. And as I said, unsportsmanlike conduct isn’t as unseemly as criminal acts and truly degenerate behavior.

But once again, I ask the Heisman powers that be. . . Do you want us to adhere to the integrity clause? Or not?

Oh, for the simpler, if pungent, times of the Vezina Trophy ballot.

And by the way, I say all of this confident that Mayfield will be our next Heisman winner, whether I'm onboard or not. Integrity is something we talk about in America. Hitching our wagons to winners is what we do.[/membership]

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