We’ve outlined the laughable corruption of college football all season: from the College Football Playoff itself to the Associated Press poll problems and the seeding of the teams selected to compete for the mythical national championship.
Now, we put all this together, and it’s easy to see why the Heisman Trophy voters can be added to this ridiculous sport’s ongoing illegitimate existence.
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was not even the best QB in his conference, let alone the best player in the country. As the major sabermetric measurements of team quality also placed the Tigers consistently behind at least two other top teams in the country, it is a bit confusing to grasp how so many voters—evidently, by the largest margin in history no less, as if these voters just jumped on a bandwagon like Major League Baseball Hall of Fame voters did last year for Mariano Rivera, inexplicably—blew this one.
Consider the following:
- Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa set the all-time NCAA single-season record this year for efficiency, posting a 206.9 rating. He was only able to play in nine games in 2019, however, due to injuries. Every game Tagovailoa played this year was against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team, as well, and his career rating (199.4) demonstrates some serious career consistency.
- Burrow’s QB rating this year (201.5) was second best in the nation, but he did play a game against a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team this year, padding his stats against inferior competition in the process. In that game, Burrow posted a 237.2 rating, meaning his overall season rating would have been even lower if he had not beat up on a weakling team.
- In addition, Burrow’s career rating (169.1) illustrates a key reality that this year was somewhat fluky for him, and perhaps it was due to overall team improvements and not his own improvements. Yes, players can come out of nowhere to win Heismans, of course, but when you’re beating up on the little guys to do it—and you’re not even the best player at your position in your conference—it’s a little silly.
- The remaining elephant (no Alabama jokes intended) in the room is Ohio State QB Justin Fields, who posted a 190.3 efficiency rating this year, for the Buckeyes—the No. 1 team in all the sabermetric team rankings. Fields also did not pad his stats this year against any FCS teams, as Ohio State was the lone CFP-chosen team to not play a gimme game against a small school in 2019.
- In addition, Fields had a 40-to-1 ratio this year for touchdown passes to interceptions, while Burrows’ 48-to-6 ratio pales in comparison. Tagovailoa’s 33-to-3 ratio was better than Burrows’ mark, too. Burrows certainly threw more often for more yards, etc., but volume does not equal quality, as evidenced by Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon, who led the nation in passing yards by a country mile.
So, in essence, Burrows was somewhat less impressive statistically than either Fields or Tagovailoa, while also playing a patsy opponent which enabled him to pad volume and impress simple-minded voters in the process.
(After all, if a player like Barry Sanders wasn’t the most dominant Heisman vote getter ever, then you know the voters have no clue what they’re doing.)
In looking at Fields’ numbers, it’s amazing to think the top player on the top sabermetrically ranked team in the country could throw 40 TDs and just one INT—yet finish a distant third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy behind a guy who padded his stats against an FCS team, while playing for, at best, the third-best team in the country.
That shows you just how broken the Heisman Trophy voting is, after multiple seasons in the last 15 years or so where the vote inexplicably went to inferior players from favored conferences: The snow jobs put on former Stanford Cardinal players like Andrew Luck and Christian McCaffrey in recent seasons are inexcusable, as well.
Just more reasons to recognize how broken the sport of college football is, really, and why in the near future we won’t be bothering with it anymore on a regular basis.