Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why We Can't Trust Heisman Voters

Tonight will see the Heisman selection and I'm just going to say it now: They're going to get it wrong. My guess is that the pick will be Mark Ingram, because he's basically the best offensive threat on the best team (and they are the best team, probably by 10 points). He's had big games on TV, especially the Florida game, and the voters will put a lot of stock on that one.

But they'll have it wrong. The rightful winner, and hands down best player, is Ndamakong Suh. He's dominated every metric for defensive linemen all year long, to an extent that the other players on the list haven't. There are a couple of huge issues that are going to kill his chances. First, Nebraska doesn't have the TV air time that Texas or Alabama does, so there hasn't been nearly enough exposure.

Here's the other problem: Heisman voters are lazy and don't do the research they should. Rather than pay close attention to the game footage, they spend 15 minutes looking at some stats and sign off on it. This inherently places players like Suh at an enormous disadvantage, because they can't accumulate stats that leap out at the voters. Gerhart is a fine player, but you're kidding yourself if you think there aren't 40 running backs in the country who could get the stats he did on that Stanford team in the PAC-10. Most of the voters can't accurately access the positions other than QB, RB, and WR, and overvalue the players at those spots. That's why they work for the Kansas City Star instead of the Kansas City Chiefs.

To reasonably pick the best player, you ultimately need to compare him to an average player at his position, and see how much better. I like Mark Ingram and all, but like Gerhart, a merely good tailback could do extremely well in that system. Same thing for McCoy. Put Jimmy Clausen or Jake Locker in that Texas QB role and they're the finalist, not him. Replace Suh with anyone else in the country and you get an enormous difference.

And so we are left with Suh. He faced double and triple teams every week and nevertheless dominated the line of scrimmage like no one else in the country. He almost single-handedly beat Texas last weekend without touching the ball. Ask any pro scout who they're drafting first of the finalists and Suh's the only name you'll hear.

And nevertheless, he's not going to win it tonight.

No comments:

Post a Comment