Performance against Florida turns tide for Alabama's Ingram

Dec. 9, 2009 at 6:09 a.m.

Alabama's Mark Ingram has been invited to the Heisman Trophy presentation as a finalist, along with Colt McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, Toby Gerhart and Tim Tebow.

Alabama's Mark Ingram has been invited to the Heisman Trophy presentation as a finalist, along with Colt McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, Toby Gerhart and Tim Tebow.

The letters from Gene Stallings arrived on a weekly basis during the 1992 college football season.

The content of each letter was almost always identical. Stallings would urge me to vote Alabama as the No. 1 team in that week's college football poll.

I found the letters curious since I had never met Stallings and had no vote in the poll.

Besides, I figured the head coach at Alabama had much more pressing matters than sending letters to a sports writer in Texas.

After some thought, I figured out the letters were coming from Tom Blythe, a friend who had moved from Victoria to Alabama and was a huge fan of the Crimson Tide.

Alabama was ranked No. 2 behind Miami virtually the entire 1992 season and the teams wound up playing for the national title in the Sugar Bowl.

I spent New Year's Day of 1993 in Dallas covering Notre Dame's 28-3 win over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.

I had finished my story and returned to the hospitality room at the media hotel in time to watch the Sugar Bowl.

I figured out quickly that Stallings, er Blythe, was right. Alabama should have been ranked No. 1. The speed of its defense was too much for Miami and Alabama rolled to a 34-13 win and the national title.

I haven't received any letters from Nick Saban this season, but to the best of my knowledge Blythe is still in Alabama and I'm sure he's rejoicing in the Crimson Tide's 32-13 whipping of Florida in the SEC championship game on Saturday.

Alabama is ranked No. 1 and will play Texas in the BCS Championship game on Jan. 7 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

I don't think Blythe is aware that I have a vote for the Heisman Trophy. I have a feeling he'd be very pleased with me.

My top choice for the Heisman Trophy was Alabama running back Mark Ingram.

The decision was extremely difficult. I waited until after Saturday's championship games to make up my mind.

I had been leaning toward Texas quarterback Colt McCoy after his performance against Texas A&M. But I kept flashing back to some of the other games McCoy played and had some doubts that were reinforced in the Big 12 championship game against Nebraska.

I know Texas fans won't be happy, including one who lives with me, but Texas fans are rarely satisfied. That's not to say I agree with some of the ridiculous bashing of McCoy that I've read. Bottom line, the guy is a winner.

The same is true of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Some of the hype surrounding him is quite honestly nauseating. He is an outstanding player and has had an outstanding career.

I watched Tebow closely against Florida State and it was hard to tell just how good he was because the Seminoles were so bad.

I was very impressed with the running of Stanford's Toby Gerhart. I think he's going to be a good NFL running back. But the Heisman Trophy is not about who is going to be the best pro.

Stanford and Gerhart did not emerge unscathed from the Pac-10 - this is coming from a UCLA graduate - and the league has been less than impressive this season.

Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh anchored a good defense and wreaked havoc against Texas in the Big 12 title game.

I have voted for a defensive player in the past as some readers have not so kindly reminded me of my vote for Michigan's Charles Woodson. But I thought about the Big 12 North and the vision was an ugly one.

Ingram was hurt against Auburn, but his performance against Florida was clutch.

Against one of the best defenses in the country, he rushed for 113 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Ingram and his teammates clearly outplayed Tebow and his teammates.

Alabama leaned heavily on Ingram this season and he delivered.

Speaking of delivering, Tom, it would be nice to hear from you.

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or, or comment on this column at



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