ON SPORTS: Heisman Trophy vote obvious, but far from easy
Dec. 14, 2013 at 6:14 a.m.
Mike Forman's Heisman Ballot
• 1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
• 2. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
• 3. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
• 1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
• 2. Marqise Lee, WR, Southern Cal
• 3. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
• 1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
• 2. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
• 3. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
The first year I participated in the Heisman Trophy voting was 1997.
I spent most of the season trying to decide whether to vote for Charles Woodson of Michigan or Peyton Manning of Tennessee.
I voted for Woodson, and I don't regret my decision even though I have the utmost respect for Manning.
Woodson won the award, and both players have gone on to have successful careers in the NFL.
The decision this season has been every bit as difficult as 1997 but for vastly different reasons.
I do my best to go into every season with an open mind. There are always preseason favorites for the award, but I base my vote on what happens on the field.
You might recall that South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney was going to become the first defensive player since Woodson, who also played some offense, to win the Heisman.
You know how that worked out. Clowney was not even one of the six finalists invited to New York for the awards presentation.
The fact that there were six finalists - quarterbacks Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, A.J. McCarron of Alabama and Jameis Winston of Florida State and running backs Tre Mason of Auburn and Boston College's Andre Williams - is a tip off to how much the voters were divided.
I am always curious to see what kind of promotional material I get from the schools, and this year, it was very limited.
Northern Illinois sent a couple of items about Lynch; I'm on Texas A&M's media list, so I got quite a few emails about Manziel. I even got a player card of Chuckie Keeton, who in case you don't know - and you probably don't - is a quarterback from Utah State.
I voted for Manziel last year, and even with his troubles in the offseason, I was willing to vote for him again this season.
He was still on my list after a sub-par performance against LSU, but I couldn't vote for him after the Aggies' loss to Missouri.
I have always respected McCarron, not so much for his statistics, which are impressive, but his ability to win.
McCarron led Alabama to two national championships and lost only three games as a starter.
The knock against McCarron was that Alabama was such a good team, he rarely was put in a situation where he had to win the game.
He did that this season against Texas A&M and Mississippi State and seemed to have done it against Auburn until the ill-fated last-second field goal attempt.
Thus, we come to my first-place vote for Winston.
I have nothing but admiration for the way he performed as a freshman. His talent is immense, and his poise and decision making on the field was remarkable.
He has Florida State within a win of a national championship.
The hesitation came when I learned he was under investigation for a sexual assault. If Winston had been charged, I would not have voted for him.
That is not to say the character of some of the previous players who have gotten my vote is beyond reproach.
I voted for Reggie Bush in 2005, and he had to give back the trophy after NCAA sanctions were leveled against him and Southern Cal.
Cam Newton got my vote in 2010 even though he was investigated by the NCAA after reports circulated that his parents received money to deliver him to Auburn.
My first-place vote for Winston - McCarron got my second-place vote, and Mason received my third-place vote - was made with a clear mind but a cloudy conscience.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at advosports.com