ATHENS - My Heisman Trophy ballot was filed on Monday, but I withheld making it public until the award was announced, per the "request" of the Heisman trust. Now that it's been announced, here's how I voted:
1. Jameis Winston, Florida State
Three years ago I did not vote for Cam Newton. I didn't vote for anybody. I withheld my vote because I felt there was enough evidence that Newton should be ineligible, and I still believe that. But because the NCAA disagreed and he was eligible, I felt the best way to handle it was to not vote at all. if I had it over, I'd handle it the same way.
This time around, I did vote, though for awhile it remained a dicey proposition.
The Winston and Newton cases are different for a lot of reasons. In the grand scheme of things, the Winston case is a lot more important. But what gets lost in a situation like this is that only two people, in all likelihood, really knows what happened. I wasn't there. So in this case you have to defer to the authorities, no matter how flawed they or the process may have been. They've seen the evidence, and they've decided Winston should not be prosecuted. In a criminal case a jury member needs to have proof beyond a reasonable doubt. An award is not a criminal case, and there's a different standard. But in the Newton and Winston cases, there are varying degrees of proof, and I felt a lot more comfortable in the Newton case pronouncing judgment. This time, I defer.
On the field, Winston was very deserving of the trophy. His stats speak for themselves, as does what he's done to lead Florida State to the BCS championship game. Winston and the Seminoles aren't just unbeaten, they're rolling over everybody, and their star quarterback is the prime reason. He's a deserving choice.
2. Andre Williams, Boston College
Williams' stats also speak for themselves. They're unreal.
This season the senior rushed for 2,102 yards, easily the most in FBS this year, and the ninth-most in FBS history. (Williams averaged 6.4 yards per carry.)And that was for Boston College, a team that clearly didn't have much else, so defenses knew Williams was in all likelihood getting the ball. And they still couldn't stop him.
3. Aaron Murray, Georgia
It's a shame that A.J. McCarron was invited to New York, and not Murray, who was much more deserving. But that's what happens when you play quarterback, a position where the wins of your team, including the previous two year's worth of wins, matter an inordinate amount.
Murray had more passing yards (3,075) than McCarron (2,676), the same amount of passing touchdowns (26) and more rushing touchdowns (six). Murray had more interceptions (nine to six), but not a disqualifying amount.
And most importantly, Murray did all this despite a ridiculous amount of injuries among his supporting case, including never having his best receiver, Malcolm Mitchell. What Murray did in leading Georgia back at Tennessee, in a game where he lost two more top receivers and a top tailback doesn't get enough attention. Murray's performance in the fourth quarter at Auburn should have been a Heisman moment. Instead it was a footnote for Georgia's demoralizing season.
Gene Sapakoff, a columnist in Charleston, S.C., pointed out two weeks ago that Murray was the only quarterback this year with two wins over BCS top 15 teams (South Carolina and LSU) and two good games vs. other top 15 teams (Auburn and Clemson). In those four games, Sapakoff pointed out, Murray had 1,345 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, four rushing touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Good enough for me.