By Savannah Pullin
A scoreless first half. Two interceptions thrown – half of all Baylor interceptions this season. Only one touchdown pass.
The collapse at Oklahoma State was the worst Baylor fans had seen this season.
Before the OSU game, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III had been shooting to the top of the Heisman Trophy watch. On Oct. 24, CBS Sports projected him at No. 2 with 35 points – only one point behind Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
Unfortunately, OSU sullied his fame almost as quickly as they seized the game. As of Oct. 29 at 8:33 p.m., Robert Griffin III had fallen to sixth place on the ESPN Heisman watch. Neither ESPN nor CBS is the ultimate Heisman authority, but at this point they are the closest we can get to informed predictions.
Here comes the real question. Is the renowned RG3 less than what we thought? Was he built up so much that the only place left for him to go was down?
Four quarterbacks and one running back are now ranked higher on the Heisman watch than Griffin: Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Boise State’s Kellen Moore, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson.
Ready for the shock? Griffin’s stats are comparable to and just as impressive as his Heisman peers.
He has thrown for 2,375 yards resulting in 23 touchdowns (the same as Luck) and four interceptions (the same as Luck) with a 75.4 completion percentage (better than Luck).
So what happened to Griffin? Why has he suddenly dropped off the Heisman radar? It boils down to one thing – team record.
Stanford, Alabama and Boise State all remain undefeated. Clemson lost its first game over the weekend to Georgia Tech. Wisconsin lost two weeks in a row – to Michigan State and Ohio State – but they are still 6-2 for the season, and 2-2 in their conference.
This season, the Baylor Bears are 4-3, 1-3 in the Big 12.
Looking at the past, there is no doubt a good team record influences votes. In 2010, when Auburn quarterback Cam Newton won, he led Auburn through an undefeated season. After Alabama running back Mark Ingram claimed the Heisman in 2009, Alabama went on to beat Texas in the national championship game.
History doesn’t lie.
The Heisman Trophy was established to honor a college football player who deserves recognition for his outstanding performance.
But let’s face the facts. It takes more than just being an outstanding player to receive the Heisman.
Obviously, it takes a great player who has the stats to back up his nomination. However, it also takes a certain level of recognition, or popularity, which would encourage an entire nation of college football fans to recognize one’s accomplishments. Finally, a Heisman nominee needs to be a member of a team that is capable of making the championship game, or at least be in the running to do so.
The Heisman is not simply recognition of a player, but of the team and program as a whole. Baylor has a good team, and it’s getting better.
Unfortunately, it is not yet at the caliber of other Heisman nominee teams.
Griffin has all the talent and individual stats that should make him a top Heisman contender, and thanks to a great start, he has earned some national recognition. But until the team is able to elevate itself to BCS Championship eligibility, Griffin will fall short.
What a shame.
It seems as if the lack of a supporting cast on the field is overshadowing Griffin’s accomplishments. One can always question if he would be ranked higher if he had a running back like Richardson, an offensive line that didn’t allow 17 sacks, or a defense with more experience and maturity.
But that’s all they will ever be – questions – and the answers won’t come this season. For now, the only sureties are in the AP Top 25 – Stanford is No. 4, Alabama is No. 2, Boise State is No. 5, Clemson is No. 11, Wisconsin is No. 19, and Baylor no longer exists on the poll.
Perhaps the Heisman should be a representation of a player who has carried his team to a higher level. Maybe the Heisman Committee has it all wrong. What if Robert Griffin III really is the ideal picture of a Heisman winner? Unfortunately, Baylor may never know.
Savannah Pullin is a senior business journalism major from The Woodlands.