Te’o deserves Heisman

Despite strong year from Manziel, Notre Dame LB college football’s best

By Seamus Lyman (Asst. News Editor ) on November 29, 2012.
Posted in Opinion.

College football’s regular season is coming to an end and several championship games will be played this weekend to decide the fates of those heading to the BCS bowl games. This season has brought its fair share of excitement and on Dec. 8 we will know who is the best player in all of college football when the 2012 Heisman trophy is awarded to that lucky athlete.

To understand the prestige behind winning college football’s most recognizable award you must know who the previous recipients are. This year’s winner would join the likes of Robert Griffin III, who currently plays for the Washington Redskins and is their starting quarterback in his first season. Cam Newton won in 2010 and had a record-breaking rookie season in the National Football League. Mark Ingram, Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow won as sophomores (Redshirt sophomore in Bradford’s case) and the three are currently active in the NFL. Not so recently, the late Ernie Davis won the Heisman in 1961, his senior year at Syracuse University. Understand that this is college football’s most prestigious and recognizable award.

According to ESPN’s “Experts’ Poll,” this year’s candidates are Johnny “Football” Manziel of Texas A&M, Manti Te’o of Notre Dame, Collin Klein of Kansas State, Braxton Miller of Ohio State, Marqise Lee of the University of Southern California and Kenjon Barber of the University of Oregon.

Johnny “Football” is Texas A&M’s starting quarterback in just his freshman season. Manziel has accumulated exactly 4,600 yards this season, which accounts for the most total yards in a season by a player in the Southeastern Conference’s. The last two players to do so were Tim Tebow and Cam Newton and both went on to win that year’s Heisman Trophy. However, neither of these two were freshman and neither threw more than eight interceptions. Both had higher quarterback ratings than Manziel’s 155.9, with Tebow at 172.5 and Newton at 182.0. Newton also lead his team, Auburn, to a national championship that year.

Now, a freshman has never won the Heisman and this is not the year that history should change. The Heisman is something that players strive for from their early days in the sport. There should be no rush to award it to an athlete who has only produced numbers for one season. There is no reason why Manziel’s performance this season should guarantee him the trophy. His 4,600 total yards is impressive, but a QB rating of 155.9 leaves him 18th in all of college football. I’m not impressed. The freshman is not leading in any category for passing this year. For a freshman, his numbers are impressive, but not impressive enough when compared to his peers.

I’m sorry Johnny “Football,” it’s just not your year. Come back next year and show why you deserve it. There’s a reason why no freshman has ever won the Heisman Trophy: they aren’t proven yet. Players need to prove that they are going to return year after year and perform at the same level as the year before, something difficult to do, but something important. As a freshman, Manziel has potentially three more years to show off his skills. The most impressive feat from Manziel this year is upsetting Alabama on Nov. 10 at Alabama.

So who should win this year’s Heisman? Senior Collin Klein has lead Kansas State this season to be ranked sixth in the nation with a game to play against Texas tomorrow. His numbers are similar to Manziel’s, other than total yards, which leads me to rule him out of the running. Great senior season, just not strong enough. He’ll make a career in the NFL if he chooses to do so.

Braxton Miller? The sophomore quarterback from the shunned Ohio State program has lead his team to an impressive 12-0 season, despite the fact that they really have nothing to play for after the NCAA banned them from bowl competition. Ohio State has not been in the spotlight because of this, a major factor in why Miller will not win the trophy.

How about Manti Te’o? The senior captain of then No. 1, undefeated, Notre Dame Fighting Irish has helped lead his team to this year’s BCS championship bowl game. He has seven interceptions, tying him for second in the NCAA, leaving him one behind Fresno State’s safety, Phillip Thomas. So far in 2012, Te’o has racked up 101 total tackles, 46 of which were solo. He has two sacks as well. He leads the defense on and off the field. The athlete originally committed to USC, Notre Dame’s bitter rival, and had a change of heart on national signing day when he chose to instead sign with the Fighting Irish.

On one September day, Te’o learned that both his grandmother and girlfriend had died. The Saturday after he had heard the heartbreaking news, Te’o was in Michigan leading his team against Michigan State. Te’o had 12 tackles and a fumble recovery, allowing Notre Dame to win. The next game was in South Bend, Indiana against Michigan. The linebacker had two interceptions. Notre Dame won on the day his girlfriend was buried in Hawaii.

If the senior’s stats do not impress you, then his story should. To not only play, but to perform on the national stage and do an exceptional job after losing two important loved ones in his life is impressive. He brings an intensity to the field that coaches long to have on their team. He is a true leader, and most deserving of the 2012 Heisman Trophy. Manti Te’o is college football’s most impressive athlete.

Te’o has led the Fighting Irish to its first undefeated regular season since 1988, which was the last time they were ranked No. 1. The Irish are expected to play the winner of the SEC championship game, between Georgia and Alabama, in the BCS Championship game on Jan. 7, 2013.

10 Responses to Te’o deserves Heisman

  1. Russell E. Scott

    November 29, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    You have surmised your assumptions that Te’o deserves to win based on his on field heroics and life loss adversity off the field. I will not argue that nor take a side. But the Heisman Award is based solely on field performance. Flip a coin. Has it ever ended in a tie? Manziel is no less deserving than Te’o given his on field heroics and unbelievable one season stats. Because he is a freshman does that make him a looser? I think not. As far as entertainment value and coming out of nowhere, 8 points and some kicking issues would solve this issue now and forever. I don’t vote so I go for the kid and respect the beyond human defensive hulk should the vote his way. They are both worthy in distinctive and opposite accomplishments. I never liked Notre Dame though because of their manifest destiny entitlement that is a major undercurrent that to deny is a lie.

  2. anon

    November 29, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Two sacks? real Heisman material

  3. slyman

    November 30, 2012 at 12:51 am

    This is Seamus Lyman, the writer of this piece.

    Te’o is the leader of his team. I doubt the same can be said for Johnny Manziel. His numbers are impressive, which is why the O’Brien (National Quarterback Award) award exists. The Fighting Irish are 2nd overall in points against. Something that reflects on Te’o. He leads the defense and is a big contributor to this.This is taken from the Heisman Trophy website:

    “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.”

    Sure, two sacks may not impress some, but I’m not impressed by Manziel’s performance. There is a standard when going after college football’s highest award. Like I said above, his performance this season does not compare to those who have won in the past. Texas A&M has a great football team. However, they have, in my opinion, only played three high caliber teams in Florida (first loss), LSU (second loss), and Alabama (a close 29-24 win).

    Could Manziel lead his team against Te’o’s? I don’t think so. Te’o’s job isn’t to constantly rush the quarterback and collect sacks, it’s to play defense. If we’re focusing on single statistics then, let’s talk about Manziel’s eight interceptions. Five of these came against teams that are unranked. On top of this, Manziel potentially has three more seasons in college football. The argument that he could become injured with a career ending injury is nonsense. Manziel could have become injured weeks ago, It’s part of being an athlete, and a risk athlete’s take every day.

    Te’o is lucky to play for Notre Dame, where they schedule their own games. They are guaranteed to play big name teams who play hard just because they have the opportunity to play Notre Dame. Most games for them are considered rivalries, adding to the intensity of these games.

  4. Brian

    November 30, 2012 at 2:30 am

    your first point …[manziel is not the leader of his team]… my first clue to the fact that you have done nothing more than maybe watch a few highlights of johnny manziel and are a notre dame fanatic…your next point [manziel’s performance has not been very impressive]…I will point to his nearly 70 percent pass completion and 9.5 per carry and overall yardage surpassing all of the previous dual threat qb’s…and then wonder, you sound appear to be one of two things: 1) wildly stupid (which I would, out of kindness, prefer not to assume) or…2) and once again, a person who has decided to ignore everything about Manziel outside of a few glimpses at a few highlights AND, once again, a notre dame lunatic…err, fanatic…and your last statement: could Manziel lead his team past notre dame’s…and you think not…[bursting inside with laughter at the audacity of your arrogant bias]…sir irish lover, he led, as a freshman, his team to a victory over a team whose defense is rated 2nd in the nation–in a very hostile environment–and never blinked…your bias is outrageous…which is why, sir leprechaun lover, Manziel will definitely win the Heisman…thank you

  5. Ryan

    November 30, 2012 at 9:02 am

    If you think Te’o should win, then I’m fine with you making that argument. He is a great player, but dont try to diminish what Manziel did on the field. The crazy number’s he put up, as a freshman mind you, are something no one has ever done.

    “Like I said above, his performance this season does not compare to those who have won in the past.” –Where do you base this comment? He has better statistics than 9 of the last 10 heisman winning QBs (RG3 put up about 40 more total yds in a defense-less Big12)….And he did this while sitting out the 2nd half of most games.

    As far as his losses… 20-17 to Florida, a top 10 defense, and it was his first game ever. LSU, against another top 10 defense, 24-19 was a bad game with 3 ints, but if the kicker did not miss 2 FGs and an extra point A&M would be playing in the SEC championship game. RG3 won, and he was blown out in 3 games…

    “Could Manziel lead his team against Te’o’s? I don’t think so.” Vegas disagrees with you, sir…

    The trophy is given to the most OUTSTANDING player in college football, not the best player on an undefeated team, not a life time achievement award, not who endured the most off-the-field hardships while still playing well, and not who is most valuable to their team. When I looked up the definition of “outstanding” there were two definitions:
    1. exceptionally good
    2. clearly noticeable
    While both Manziel and Te’o are both exceptionally good, what Manziel does and the benefit he provides to his team are clearly noticeable, while the argument for Te’o is “you can’t see all the things he does for his team”…doesn’t meet the definition of most “oustanding” player in college football to me.

  6. slyman

    November 30, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Like I have said, Maziel’s performance has not impressed ME. I am not a voter in the Heisman Trophy system. I have looked at Manziel’s statistics for the year and I see how some may take, at face value, that he is the best in college football. I went beyond that and looked at the teams he put these numbers up against, causing me to come to my conclusion.

    I have not religiously watched Aggie football. I have, as I said, looked at his stats and the games. My call for Manziel nt being a leader for his team comes from the fact that he is a freshman. I find it very hard to believe that a freshman is going to just come in to an SEC program and just have the respect of his teammates. Te’o is a captain, Manziel is not.

    The Fighting Irish have always been seen as an underdog, nothing wrong with that. They are underestimated. Vegas can create their own odds, not really credible if you ask me.

    The Johnny “Football” craze is no different from Linsanity. The freshman has been put in the national spotlight, for obvious reasons. I’m not taking away from what he has accomplished and I doubt we will see anything like this for a while. I am simply saying that I am not impressed enough to say that he is the most outstanding player in all of college football. Manziel may be “clearly noticeable” but that’s because of the coverage he has gained.

    I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a fan of Notre Dame, but I have been all my life. Johnny “Football” is a bandwagon occurrence. I’ve never heard anyone, before the craze, tell me that they are a Texas A&M fan. His supporters are bandwagon members. If you can prove to me that you knew about Manziel before he appeared on ESPN then I apologize.

    As far as the Aggies beating Alabama…The Aggies scored three unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter. They wouldn’t score again until a field goal was successful in the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide have bounced back from this close loss and there’s no reason to say that this was a fluke. Alabama is much better than how they played in that game. To come back within one scoring play after allowing those three early touchdowns is difficult. It’s plain an simple, Alabama lost. Texas A&M didn’t win. The Roll Tide’s defense failed them along with multiple poor coaching decisions. To put the win entirely on Manziel is ludicrous. Why don’t we just give the credit for Ohio State’s undefeated season to Brutus Buckeye.


    • Jan Huss

      November 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      King Henry V: If little faults proceeding on distemper shall not be winked at, how shall we stretch our eye, when capital crimes, chewed, swallowed and digested appear before us?

      Notre Dame’s Shameful Suicide Scandal
      Jan 6, 2011 5:39 PM EST

      Lizzy Seeberg was a student who dared accuse a football player of sexual assault. She wound up committing suicide. Buzz Bissinger on why he’s outraged by the university and police response.

      It is New Year’s Eve. I am lying on a red couch in the living room, mindlessly flicking the clicker. A college football bowl game appears to be on every channel, most of them little more than advertisements for the sponsors. I make one final sweep before falling asleep. The sound of the Sun Bowl between the University of Notre Dame and the University of Miami drifts through my ears. The announcers, Gary Danielson and Verne Lundquist, are seasoned professionals, their singsong sports muzak emanating from the surprising chill of El Paso.

      It really matters to play at Notre Dame…
      I am interested now. The smooth chatter begins to irritate me, and then infuriate me. It really matters to play at Notre Dame? Not after this season. In the land of the hypocrites that is college football, Notre Dame has become the most hypocritical, hiding like cowards behind the outdated mythology of Win One for the Gipper and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Rudy Rudy Rudy and their own holier-than-thou Catholicism.
      The blood of a 19-year-old girl spills like an oil slick over the football team and the school administration. They should still be thinking about what happened in the chill of the Sun Bowl. They should be thinking about what Tom and Mary Seeberg must have felt like when they received the news that their daughter, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Seeberg, a freshman at neighboring St. Mary’s College, had died.
      Not from natural causes. Not in a car accident. But by suicide 11 days after making an allegation of sexual assault against a university football player at the end of August. The school administration and the Notre Dame police department should be ashamed about an inexcusably sloppy investigation at best and a deliberate coverup at worst. But there is no shame when a football game is to be played, however meaningless, and this Sun Bowl is completely meaningless. There is still money is to be made.
      The accuser became the accused. There were the reports that she suffered from depression and anxiety and was on the medication Effexor (so am I, as well as three other ones). There were the reports that the day before she died, she told a counselor that she had had a panic attack earlier that evening and was having suicidal thoughts. From the point of view of the Notre Dame football team, that had to be something of a relief: She was an unbalanced cuckoo clock.
      As for the accused, who has not been publicly named, he continued to play. On New Year’s Day, the newly hired University of Pittsburgh football coach was fired within 24 hours of being released from jail on a charge of domestic assault even though he claimed innocence. At ESPN, announcer Ron Franklin was fired this week for sexist remarks made to a sideline reporter during a staff meeting. But the Fighting Irish march on, those golden helmets still blinding a football program deep in the muck.

      As impeccably reported by Stacy St. Clair and Todd Lighty of the Chicago Tribune, this was not a situation where Lizzy Seeberg had some delayed response to what allegedly happened. Almost immediately, she wrote out a statement and sought out help from the St. Mary’s program Belles Against Violence. She reported the alleged attack to authorities and consented to a DNA exam at a hospital.
      But a friend of the accused sent her an email: “Don’t do anything you would regret. Messing with notre dame football is a bad idea.” It’s conjecture, of course, but how could the words not scare her?
      There was no penetration, according to Seeberg’s description of the incident. She and the player were in his dorm room at Notre Dame together. She said she became uncomfortable. Then the player touched her breasts, which under Indiana law constitutes sexual battery. The accused said the act was consensual and according to his lawyer, as quoted in the South Bend Tribune, was a “complete gentleman.”
      The Sun Bowl natters on. Notre Dame is on a second-half roll. Running back Robert Hughes makes a nice gain, fumbles, but it goes out of bounds so Notre Dame retains the ball. Luck of the Fighting Irish, says Gary Danielson.
      It spins Notre Dame’s way.
      Calling what happened next an investigation into Seeberg’s allegation is a misnomer. Police did not interview the accused for two weeks. They went to his room on Sept. 9, the day before Lizzy killed herself, and he wasn’t there. They left a phone message. They tried again four days later and he wasn’t there. I am not a detective, but he would seem fairly easy to find, like on the practice field. He was finally interviewed—five days after Lizzy Seeberg had died.

      Prosecuting Attorney Michael Dvorak of St. Joseph County, in announcing on Dec. 16 that no criminal charges would be filed, said there were conflicting accounts among the witnesses. He also said that Lizzy Seeberg’s statements to investigators would in all likelihood be found inadmissible in court anyway because she was dead. They would be considered hearsay.
      Notre Dame has the game in hand in the fourth quarter, although one of its key players apparently has an injured ankle. Because the school, unlike others, does not give out injury reports, it is hard to know the full extent, as Verne Lundquist dutifully notes. Notre Dame chooses to keep it close to the vest.
      Tom and Mary Seeberg have the legacy of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s rushing through their blood: 13 members of the extended family have attended one of the two schools in the past century. They only spoke to the Tribune in December when their level of frustration could no longer be quelled. Tom Seeberg said he felt “betrayal,” but his quotes were gentle and honorable. He showed dignity.
      According to the Tribune, the Seebergs were given indications in December that Notre Dame would not allow the parents access to records that had anything to do with their daughter’s allegations. In a surreal Catch-22, the school said the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act also made it impossible for them to give the Seebergs any information about the university’s own internal disciplinary proceeding. If Lizzy were alive, she would have been entitled to the information by requesting it; she can no longer do that because she is dead.
      The Seebergs’ lawyer, Zachary Fardon, wrote a letter to Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, and to the vice president for student affairs, Thomas Doyle, requesting that the investigation be made transparent. Doyle wrote back that he did not read the letter because it contained information about the case that, as the Tribune put it, “could interfere with his role in the school’s disciplinary process.” President Jenkins never read the letter, either, because Doyle refused to send it to him.
      Notre Dame wins the Sun Bowl over Miami 33 to 17. The game ends on a frightening note when Miami receiver Tommy Streeter, slipping on ice in the end zone, smacks into the stadium wall at full speed and crumples to the ground. A dozen Miami trainers and coaching staff and bowl officials immediately surround him. Everybody is worried, including Gary Danielson.
      C’mon, let’s get up.
      He is carefully helped to his feet, the circle of the concerned still surrounding him. He gets the attention he is due. There will be no lapses or delays.
      He is a football player.

      Keep telling us about integrity.

  7. Ryan

    November 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Well, if 4600 total yards, 43 TDs, breaking the SEC record of 540 yards in a game TWICE, 9 SEC Freshman of the week honors, 3 All-American player of the week, becoming the 5th person and 1st freshman to throw for over 3000 yds and rush for over 1000 yds, becoming the first player in FBS history to have a 450 passing/100 rushing game, 350/150 game, three 300/100 games, and first freshman QB over 4000 passing and 1100 yds rushing…..doesnt “impress” you, then I guess the only thing that will is being the captain of Notre Dame.

    I thought you said you based your decision on the stats?

    And I’m not sure what world you are living in that you think Notre Dame is “underestimated”. The only reason Te’o is even being considered for the heisman is because he plays for that team. His numbers against other defensive players who were previously up for heisman are pathetic and if he played for any other team no one would even know his name outside of that school’s fan base.

    Texas A&M isn’t a “nationally” covered school, so the fact that we are even talking about Johnny Manziel shows how amazing his accomplishments are…

  8. Blake

    December 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    A simple solution to this debate…same players, same sats, but swap their teams….Manziel wins the Heisman at Notre Dame. Te’o is a feel good story at A&M.

  9. Cody

    December 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Dat Nguyen’s 1998 team won the Big 12 and beat #1 Kansas State and #2 Nebraska along the way. His stats:
    147 tackles
    20 tackles for loss
    4 INTs
    4 sacks
    4 forced fumbles
    1 TD

    Te’o’s 2012 stats while playing nobody in the top 5:
    103 tackles
    5.5 tackles for loss
    7 INTs
    2 sacks
    0 forced fumbles
    0 TDs

    Dat Nguyen wasn’t even a Heisman candidate.

    Here’s Johnny Manziel coming off a block, forcing a fumble, then tackling the guy that recovered it:

    How many forced fumbles does Manti have? You know, since “Te’o’s job isn’t to constantly rush the quarterback and collect sacks, it’s to play defense”