Since it is now November, we can officially talk about the Heisman Trophy race based on real numbers compiled this season, not the nonsense of projecting favorites before a down is played.
With just one full week of the regular season remaining, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is the overwhelming front-runner based on what he has done on the field. If you want to talk about other issues, including a continuing series of childish behavior, well that's another matter.
After Mayfield there are an assortment of contenders, ranging from Stanford running back Bryce Love (who wasn't even mentioned in most pre-season Heisman lists), Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett and Arizona QB Kahlil Tate.
Oh, yes, also on the list, down with the also rans was Louisville QB Lamar Jackson, who just happens to be the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner.
Here's what puzzles us. Jackson began the season as an 8-1 favorite and only trailed USC QB Sam Darnold, who was the pre-season favorite at 5-1, but has faded to a 100-1 long shot. Jackson, who will conclude his regular season on Saturday against Kentucky, is now a 40-1 back-in-the-pack choice and probably won't even make it to New York for the ceremonies next month.
Let's look at some numbers. A year ago, after 11 games, Jackson had thrown 28 TD passes for 3,262 yards and rushed for 1400 yards while scoring 19 TDs[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
THIS SEASON through 11 games, Jackson has thrown 23 TD passes for 3,273 yards and has rushed for 1,287 yards and scored 17 TDs. Mayfield has thrown 34 TDS for 3816 yards this season, which gives him the edge. But has scored only 5 rushing TDs and run for less than 300 yards.
If you compare Jackson's overall passing and rushing numbers of 40 TDs for 4,560 yards, Jackson is having a better statistical season.
The difference is that Oklahoma is having a better season and is a legitimate contender for the Final Four playoffs, while Louisville is a mediocre (for the Cardinals) 7-4 record.
One of the unwritten pre-requisites for contending for the Heisman is that you need big time television exposure to reach the summit, especially down the stretch of the regular season when Heisman chatter turns up the volume.
Throw in the power of the television analysts such as Kirk Herbstreit to anoint a candidate on national television and it becomes even tougher for a player from a non Top 10 or Top 25 team to get any kind of attention other than a 10-second clip in the late-night, early morning recaps.
Here's my dilemma. I understand that Mayfield has had the best season in the biggest games and will probably win the Heisman next month. But I also feel that character off the field should be a factor. A few years ago when Florida State QB Jameis Winston was making more news off the field than on the field for his despicable behavior, I chose not to put him in the No. 1 slot on my ballot.
Mayfield's latest episode of grabbing his crotch on national television in the Sooners' romp over hapless Kansas is being white-washed into a "boys will be boys'' incident of someone simply expressing his personality, rather than being programmed in political correctness.
But this wasn't Mayfield's first joust with good taste and immaturity and questionable behavior. There has been some push back against Mayfield, including ESPN leading the way by removing Mayfield from their Heisman Watch list. But with more than 900 voters, with a wide variety of opinions, it remains to be seen what the overall consequences will be for the Oklahoma QB. OU officials also have taken a stance in Mayfield's final home game on Saturday against West Virginia. Mayfield will not start and will not walk on to the field in pre-game ceremonies as an OU captain.
The beauty of the new age of technology is that you can wait until after ALL the games of the regular season and conference championships to vote.
My initial inclination is to keep Mayfield on the ballot, but NOT in the No. 1 slot. My other instinct is to have Lamar Jackson on my ballot, maybe even at No. 1.[/membership]