According to some folks, Trent Richardson lost the Heisman Trophy because he didn’t play Saturday. Baylor’s Robert Griffin III finished with a strong game versus Texas and appears to have the award sewn up.
Many spent the last couple of weeks of the season comparing Alabama and Oklahoma State. Some folks even railed on the “horrible” defenses that Alabama played. Well, I decided to apply this same criteria to Richardson and Griffin. Richardson has run for 1,583 yards (6.02 per attempt) and has scored 20 rushing touchdowns (23 total). Griffin has passed for 3,998 yards, 36 touchdowns and six interceptions. This year, he also averaged 10.8 yards per attempt.
So here are some numbers related to each defense Alabama and Baylor faced. The defensive rank is based on yards allowed per game. The statistics for FCS teams Georgia Southern and Stephen F. Austin are not included.
One number is particular is very telling. Adding the defensive rank for each team provides a good indicator for the strength of defenses faced compared to other teams. For example, Alabama’s total of 444 is almost half the total of Baylor’s indicating that Baylor played against some horrific defenses.
Alabama played some against some bad defenses, namely North Texas and Mississippi, but the median rank of their opponents’ defenses was 28. That’s not too bad. Baylor, though, based on their average and median calculations, played week-in and week-out horrible defenses.
The Heisman Trophy is awarded to “the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.” It’s very hard to compare candidates based simply on statistics, and, in fact, the best statistics aren’t actually a requirement. It’s sort of like a popularity contest and voters cast their votes for a variety of reasons. Some have an agenda, some have regional biases, some may only pay attention to the candidates on the last weekend of the season and some actually vote for the player they think is the best.
This year, I would assume there is some negative affect on Richardson based on how the BCS standings turned out. There has to be. There is, no doubt, some negative affect from Alabama not playing in the SEC Championship game. After all, Mark Ingram most likely solidified his win with a great game versus Florida in 2009. Richardson is also very close statistically to Montee Ball of Wisconsin.
Think about the above comparison when pundits begin to talk about how great Griffin’s statistics are. Baylor plays in a conference with horrible defenses. Griffin shouldn’t be punished for that, after all, he’s a great player. But at the same time, it should be considered. In fact, if you look at passing statistics for very long, you begin to wonder why Houston’s Case Keenum wasn’t invited to the presentation ceremony.