Congratulations to Stewart Mandel of SI.com for recognizing Tebow’s genius. When you add the fact that Dixon left tonight’s game in the 1st quarter with an injury, Tebow is looking more and more like the front runner. The original article can be found here.
Stewart, with Tim Tebow continuing to put up gaudy stats week after week and carrying the Gators on his shoulders, do you think he has a legitimate chance to win the Heisman despite him being a sophomore and the fact that the Gators are all but out of title national contention?
I think we’re way past the point of “does he have a legitimate chance?” From everything I’ve seen, he’s at worst the co-favorite right now with Dennis Dixon, if not the favorite. The fact that he never really lost any steam despite Florida losing three games shows just what a phenomenal individual season he’s having (3,250 total yards, 23 passing touchdowns, 19 running touchdowns). Other than the Georgia game, where his shoulder injury prevented the coaches from using him as a runner as much as they normally do, I can’t imagine how he could possibly do any more than he has. Last week’s stats against South Carolina were particularly absurd: 22-of-32 for 304 yards and two touchdowns; 26 carries for 120 yards and five touchdowns. Those would be impressive numbers had they come from two different players, nevertheless one.
But we’re going to find out in the coming weeks just how much emphasis the modern Heisman places on team performance when it comes to selecting their winner, because Dixon, who’s had a phenomenal season on his own right (2,623 total yards, 20 passing TDs, eight rushing TDs), will have a huge advantage down the stretch. In the BCS era, the national-title race so dominates our focus down the stretch that Oregon’s game Thursday night against 4-6 Arizona will receive far more attention nationally than Tebow’s seven-touchdown game the other night at 6-4 South Carolina. If Dixon has a big game and Oregon wins, he will only gain more traction, while Tebow can do nothing more than tread water against Florida Atlantic this weekend. That, as much as anything, is the biggest reason we’ve seen the Heisman race become so inextricably linked to the BCS race in recent years (six of the past seven winners played in the BCS title game).
I’m not yet ready to definitively declare one more deserving the other, nor is the race by any means down to just those two — Missouri QB Chase Daniel, for one, has a chance to make a real impression down the stretch. But I will say that win-loss record should not be the deciding factor when choosing between two contenders. It’s an individual award; it always has been. As for the age thing, that’s been the most pleasant surprise to me about this year’s Heisman race: I have not heard or read one person suggesting Tebow should not win because he’s only a sophomore. I’m glad to see, after 72 years, that we’re finally getting over that.