Johnny “Football” Becomes Johnny “Heisman” with Landslide Victory!

It’s tough to come up with superlatives about Johnny Manziel’s fantastic season that won’t have been written a thousand times over by other writers.  But fantastic it was – teenage freshman quarterback playing for a team expected to come in dead last in the SEC instead leads his team to success and even a dramatic and convincing win over the then BCS-favorite, Alabama.  If you watched the Heisman ceremony there was a palpable aura of a 2-man race in the Downtown Athletic Club in Manhattan, with Colin Klein appearing as a mere third wheel.  Johnny Manziel was the golden boy; he was in uncharted territory as a freshman with no previous freshman winner and relatively little track record for the Heisman voters to rely upon.

Johnny Manziel’s season was not without its problems.  His 3 interceptions at home against LSU resulted in a loss, close as it was, but all was forgotten when against a fierce Alabama rush he move right,bobbled the ball, then scrambled back left and found his wide-open TE in the back of the end zone, which ultimately gave Alabama their lone loss on the season and relegated their BCS hopes to the SEC championship game.

Manti Te’O bore the burden of being exclusively a defensive player, which made him an anomaly as well.  He was a model of consistency all season as he notched 7 interception to go along with 2 fumbles and 103 tackles.  There was no defining moment to his season – other than the entirety of his season – but his interception on the road in Norman might have been the key play in Notre Dame’s defining win of the season. However Te’O’s season was just game-in and game-out about consistency and leadership in the wake of tragedy that he’s had to deal with.  His was the kind of mature leadership that, lacking anything specifically spectacular, just doesn’t capture the David-versus-Goliath magic that creates the stuff of myth.

On the night of a big boxing match, Manziel won by unanimous decision. He had 300 more votes than Te’O and more than 150 first-place votes. He was the overwhelming favorite going into the ceremony, which was rightly justified by the votes as revealed on ESPN by an electoral college-like map.  Manziel turned 20 just 2 days previous to the award; he played his whole season as a teenager. He beat the BCS-favorite Alabama on the road, and his 2 losses came by a combined 8 points. Manziel was also the first Freshman to win the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top QB.

For a kid who was thought to be undersized and ranked no higher than a 3-star athlete in high achool, Manziel proved that heart and determination win out over pedigree.  Over-achiever or desiny’s child, there was no way that he could be denied recognition.  Now if only the BCS could have gotten it right and put him in a primetime Bowl. At least they’ll have 3 more years to figure it out. Texas A&M will not be overlooked for the rest of Manziel’s tenure, and the Cotton Bowl will be get far more attention with the Heisman Trophy winner participating.