By Tyler Alley
Junior quarterback Robert Griffin III approached the Heisman ceremony as he has approached all media events this semester, with an air of dignity, glory to God and a sense of humor.
Even on the national stage, standing next to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, he pulled up his pants legs and showed off a pair of red and blue Superman socks complete with capes on the back side.
“Well, now that my socks are out there I got nothing to lose, right?” he said to get some laughs from the audience.
When the announcement finally came that Baylor had just earned its first Heisman trophy in history, and while Bears everywhere roared with ecstasy and chanted “R-G-3,” Griffin shook hands with the other candidates and his head coach, Art Briles. He then walked back to hug his parents, his sister and his fiancée, before finally walking on stage to accept the trophy.
“This moment right here is unbelievably believable,” Griffin said to begin his acceptance speech. “It’s unbelievable because in the moment, we’re all amazed when great things happen. It’s believable because great things don’t happen without hard work. The great coach Art Briles always says great things only come with great effort. We’ve certainly worked for this. That’s why everybody associated with Baylor University has a reason to celebrate tonight.”
Griffin received 1,687 points, beating out Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (1407), Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
“It was so well-deserved by Robert Griffin,” Luck said. “It was very hard to be upset.”
Griffin joins a group, known as the “Heisman fraternity,” that includes some of the greatest names in football history.
“It’s paramount, but it’s not just me,” Griffin said. “Baylor is always forever in this fraternity as well. We had nobody hanging up, but now we at least have one. And hopefully we’ll have more in the future. To be a part of these guys behind me, be a part of greatness, you can’t ask for more. Not only are they great football players, but they’re great people.”
Griffin’s high school football coach, head coach Jack Welch of Copperas Cove High School, said he was very emotional following the announcement.
“I actually cried. Tears of joy,” Welch said. “It’s like a dream come true. These things just don’t happen. It’s Robert’s victory, but it’s also a victory for the area, our school Baylor.”
Welch said Griffin has matured very well as a football player, and Briles and his staff have done a great job grooming and shaping him.
For weeks now, members of the media have been placing doubt in Griffin’s ability to win the Heisman, including one memorable quote from Kirk Herbstreit who said, “He’s from Baylor. He’s not going to win the Heisman.” Griffin was asked if he had the last laugh.
“We’re still trying to laugh some more,” he responded. “They told Tyrann he couldn’t play, and look at him at LSU doing great things. They told me I couldn’t play quarterback, and I’m at Baylor doing the best job I possibly can. They might say it couldn’t happen at Baylor, but that’s why it’s college football, and that’s why we play every Saturday.”
Griffin first gained national Heisman attention after Baylor’s opening game of the season, when the Bears defeated then-No. 14 TCU in a dramatic 50-48 game. Griffin opened the year with 359 passing yards, five touchdown passes and a big third-down reception on a trick play during what proved to be the game-winning field goal drive.
In what has come to be known as Griffin’s Heisman moment, he threw for 479 yards and four touchdowns against then-No. 5 Oklahoma, including the game-winning, 34-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Terrance Williams with eight seconds left.
On the season, Griffin completed 74 percent of his throws for 3,998 passing yards with 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions, earning him the Davey O’Brien Award for best collegiate quarterback in the nation. He also ran for 644 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
Griffin was also named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press.
Welch said he’s very proud of Griffin and he texts him all the time. What did Welch text him after the Heisman announcement?
“I texted him, ‘Praise God.’”