Heisman Trophy or Not, Manti Te'o Is College Football's Most Important Player

By Bryan Lutz

I really have come to hate what the Heisman Trophy has become. My reasoning for discrediting the award is pretty simple: is there anyone out there that can tell me what the award actually is? Because judging by the voting from the past ten years, I really do not know what the criteria is anymore.

I was under the impression the award was given to college football’s most outstanding player – – offensive or defensive. I was also under the impression a team’s win-loss record has little to do with it, considering a lot of outstanding players were on bad teams. But after Troy Smith won the Heisman in 2006, I guess the whole “most outstanding player” was ignored, with win-loss record carrying the load. In 2011, however, the most outstanding player, Robert Griffin III, won in despite of his team’s shortcomings.

So, again, what is the criteria for the award!?

This is why I don’t really care who actually wins the Heisman Trophy this season. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel should win the award as the nation’s most outstanding player, but I don’t know if that’s what voters will be voting on this season. Although Manziel will probably win the Heisman, overcoming the notion that a freshman cannot win the award, he hasn’t been college football’s most important player in 2012. That distinction, without a doubt, goes to Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

Coming into the season, I gave Notre Dame little to no chance to win more than eight games, fearing the defense wouldn’t be able to overcome their weak and young secondary. After all, both of Notre Dame’s cornerbacks were converted to defensive backs, rather than being recruited as such. But after watching Notre Dame’s first game, I had a little more optimism, with Te’o being a major reason why.

Like Ray Lewis is with the Baltimore RavensTe’o is the heart and soul of that defense. He is the captain, the pulse and leader of the best defense in college football. And not only is he all those three things, but his on the field performance has been legendary.

Coming into the season, Te’o had zero interceptions. This season, however, Te’o has been a vacuum, picking off seven passes, including the dagger against the Oklahoma Sooners.

You can take your Heisman Trophy, Johnny Football. But no matter what your stats say, how many points you have scored, or how many records you have broken, there’s one thing that you cannot claim you are:


Bryan is a featured writer for Rant Sports. Although he concentrates on MLB, you can see him covering a multitude of things across Rant Sports.

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