Dienhart: And my Heisman Trophy vote goes to ...

Go ahead. Criticize me, Alabama fans. You, too, Stanford alums and Wisconsin fanatics. I don’t care. I feel comfortable with my choice to place Baylor’s Robert Griffin on top of the Heisman Trophy ballot I submitted on Sunday night in what is turning out to be an incredible race.

But I will confess this: In my 11 years as a Heisman voter, this has been one of the toughest decisions. And this year’s final ballot count may be the closest ever. Yes, even more narrow than in 2009. That year, we saw Alabama running back Mark Ingram edge out Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, 1,304 points to 1,276.

Still, in my mind, the player they call “RG3” is the top player in the nation.

Griffin’s main competitors appear to be Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and USC quarterback Matt Barkley. But none were as singularly outstanding as Griffin, the quintessential one-man gang who literally put Baylor on his back in leading the Bears to the school’s first nine-win season since 1986– four years before RG3 was born. And a win in the Alamo Bowl over Washington will give Baylor its first 10-win season since 1980.

Do you see a trend here? Griffin is taking his program to places it hasn’t been in a generation. Are the other main Heisman competitors doing that? No. It’s about making those around you better—and RG3 is doing that, and then some.

And Griffin is making Baylor relevant while being surrounded by lesser talent than Luck, Richardson, Ball or Barkley.

Speaking of Luck and Richardson, I had them Nos. 2 and 3—respectively–on my ballot.

That’s your cue to “boo.”

How can a player from Baylor—BAYLOR—win the Heisman?

Look at Griffin’s numbers. He’s the nation’s most efficient passer (192.31), hitting 267-of-369 passes (72.4 percent) for 3,998 yards, 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also finished 13th in the Big 12 in rushing, carrying 161 times for 644 yards (4.0 ypc) and nine touchdowns.

By the way: Those numbers are better than Luck’s.

Look at Griffin’s “Heisman moments.” No one had more. It began with a season-opening, heart-stopping performance in a 50-48 win over TCU that saw RG3 throw for 359 yards and five touchdowns. And it was bookended by a scintillating 479-yard, four-touchdown pass masterpiece in a 45-38 win over Oklahoma that was capped by a mind-bending touchdown heave to end the game.

And just for good measure, Griffin left voters with another signature victory, 48-24 over Texas in the season finale, throwing for 320 yards and two scores vs. a Longhorn defense that entered the game ranked No. 9 in the country.

Does the fact Griffin has “Baylor” written across the front of his jersey scare you? It shouldn’t, but unfortunately, I think it will.

Last Saturday while telecasting the C-USA title game, ESPN analyst Craig James said, “I don’t think he has a chance of winning.”

On a Dallas-Ft. Worth radio station last week, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said of Griffin: “He’s from Baylor. He’s not going to win the Heisman.”

Again, why should what school a player is at matter when it comes to winning the Heisman? It shouldn’t. But you have to go back to 1999 to find the last time the Heisman was won by a player from a non-traditional national power, when Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne won it. Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam also did it in 1994.

Griffin also will be downgraded because the Bears have three losses. Critics will chirp that one of the defeats was 55-28 on the road to a 6-6 Texas A&M team. (The other losses were 36-35 at Kansas State, and 59-24 at Oklahoma State.)

But players have won the Heisman with three losses. The last to do it was Texas running back Ricky Williams in 1998.

One last thing to consider: Take Luck away from Stanford, and the Cardinal is still an eight-win team—at least. Take Richardson off of Alabama, and the Crimson Tide still would have won at least 10 games.
Take Griffin off Baylor? The Bears would be, well, Texas Tech or Iowa State.

If the on-field achievements aren’t enough, consider this, too: Griffin graduated in December 2010, just three years after enrolling at Baylor, and is on track to earn master’s degree in May with one year of football eligibility remaining.

Bottom line: Griffin is too good to believe on many levels and deserves to win the Heisman. He’s the most outstanding player in college football in 2011.

Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Got something to tell him about this post? He wants to hear about it. Follow Dienhart on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart or send a question to his weekly mailbag here. You can also subscribe to his RSS feed.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (20 Comments)
bob jones on 12/5/2011 @ 3:56pm EDT Said:

Nice job Tom, great choice. I get really tired of the ESPN talking heads with their agenda driven opinions, and most of the time they are wrong, and I might add obnoxious. Again, great choice, his TD-INT stats were incredible, he is not only a great passer, especially long, but has blazing speed and seems like a great person, too. Couldn’t have made a better choice, hope he wins.

reddevil34 on 12/5/2011 @ 4:18pm EDT Said:

its easy to set and pass all day when you got nobody trying to take you out, if griffin play for a real team that aleast faced a top 10 team i dont think his numbers would even be worth talkin about, its almost as if your letting a highschool football player play against a peewee team and let him brag about have killer stats , hey i got a good idea lets let shaq play a bunch of fifth graders and give him a world championship

Kurt on 12/5/2011 @ 5:05pm EDT Said:

I can understand Griffin as #1. I really want to hear how an informed person can put Richardson over Ball.

Go Bucks! on 12/5/2011 @ 5:19pm EDT Said:

I’ve noticed that ESPN/ABC almost always pimp games and players that appear on their networks. Thus the bias against Baylor and RG3.

dopple32 on 12/5/2011 @ 5:23pm EDT Said:

reddevil34, you do know the Ok. St. is ranked 3rd, and Kansas St. is 8th, with Oklahoma at 14th right?

Brad McGill on 12/5/2011 @ 5:59pm EDT Said:

Great pick I think he is the best choice by far.

Min on 12/5/2011 @ 7:27pm EDT Said:

If there was a QB that was 1-shy of the all-time single season TD record, they’d be a shoe-in for the Heisman. Montee Ball should have been a QB I guess.

tumzilla on 12/5/2011 @ 7:40pm EDT Said:

Baylor strength of schedule… 8th
Last person to win with 3 losses. Tim Tebow
RG3 hands down should be #1.
#2 Ball
reddevil34, we are talking about RG3 not Case Keenum.

Baylor 1993 on 12/5/2011 @ 7:50pm EDT Said:

reddevil34: Guess you missed this: Baylor stuns No. 5 Oklahoma


Min on 12/5/2011 @ 8:20pm EDT Said:

Baylor played ONE team ranked in Top 30 in Total Defense YPG in Texas. Might be worth mentioning Ball played 4-games against top 10-Teams in Total Defense YPG. Hard to say they played against equal opponents from a defensive standpoint.

Baylor didn’t even play anyone that was ranked in the top 30 for Pass Defense either.

Bob on 12/5/2011 @ 9:44pm EDT Said:

Also, Tom, you might want to recheck but I think Tebow won his Heisman the year FLA lost 3 games in the regular season, then going on to lose in their bowl game to finish 9-4.

But I’m all for Robert Griffin III winning the Heisman! He is an excellent player who makes everyone better–notice that his receiver Kendall Wright led the nation in receiving yards as well!

Dee on 12/5/2011 @ 10:01pm EDT Said:

It is about time the great school Baylor is being noticed. They have never been this good of a football team and has never been recognized for the great school that they are. RGIII deserves this by far.

Tim on 12/5/2011 @ 11:09pm EDT Said:

Min, I think Ball is great and I have nothing to say against him…but did it ever occur to you that the teams Baylor has played have low passing rankings b/c they had to play against quarterbacks like Griffin, Weeden, Jones, Tannehill, etc.? Don’t try to take away this kid’s success, he’s had the MOST EFFICIENT PASSING SEASON IN NCAA HISTORY!

Baylor2012 on 12/5/2011 @ 11:38pm EDT Said:


No pocket pressure? Are you aware Griffin has been sacked 23 times this season? His scrambling skills speak for themselves, and yet he has been hit again and again in the backfield. Watch the last-second Oklahoma TD. Watch the ridiculous final TD to Kendall Wright against K State. He was hit on the throw on both of those and countless others; those simply come to mind because they were clutch situations. Which team was ranked #1 in preseason? That would be Oklahoma, who Griffin put more yards on than the school has EVER ALLOWED. As in, ever, throughout all of history. The kid is incredible. I don’t care who you are or what conference you hail from, he is an outstanding QB. To assert that the name on the front of his jersey should disqualify him from the award, particularly for “professional” sportscasters to do so, is ludicrous and absurd.

Julie Copeland on 12/5/2011 @ 11:50pm EDT Said:

Craig James is such an idiot. He’s always got his own agenda. When Texas Tech fired Mike Leach, it was James that started the ball rolling. I usually like Kirk, but I do think he’s wrong this time. Robert is amazing to watch, and as a Baylor grad and fan (of course), I am SO proud he is at Baylor. Robert should win the Heisman BECAUSE he’s at Baylor, not lose it because he is.

kenneth crosby on 12/6/2011 @ 1:59am EDT Said:

i think the heisman trophy shouldnt be awarded til after the bowl series or even voted for til afterwards.RG3 is a great athlete and i’m positive he’ll win,but i’d like to see how these canidates perform in the really big game the bowl game.i respect the man like crazy but would troy smith have won after that national championship performance,highly doubtful.

Chris on 12/6/2011 @ 9:01am EDT Said:

RG3 has done the most with the least. He has beaten good defenses in TCU, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Texas. In each game, he produced a highlight reel himself. He is the most-efficient passer in history, and in the top 10 in most offensive categories. He has done this with less talent that anyone else considered. Just count the number of 4* and 5* recruits on the Baylor team; there are less than five, and none of them (other than RG3) are playing on offense with Robert. More with less. Efficiency that has never been seen. Character. RG3 will win the Heisman.

Min on 12/6/2011 @ 12:04pm EDT Said:

RG3 will most likely win and you can’t argue with that. I guess what is puzzling why Ball is 4th and 5th on a lot of the ballots. Seeing how BAll wasn’t even on the top 10 radar until a couple weeks ago, it’s maybe even a bit amazing he got an invite.

jeff on 12/6/2011 @ 12:57pm EDT Said:

who really cares about the heisman? the biggest joke award in all of sports….how can you compare players at diff positions, diff leagues, etc….it is a joke

David S. on 12/7/2011 @ 1:27am EDT Said:

Robert Griffin III’s stats tell the tale….He has the best passing percentage in the country 35 td’s 9 rushing tds on 663 yds