Boom(er) goes the Heisman Trophy ballot

Dec. 9, 2017 at 9:57 p.m.
Updated Dec. 10, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, winner of the Heisman Trophy, kisses the trophy in New York.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, winner of the Heisman Trophy, kisses the trophy in New York.    AP for The Victoria Advocate

The most memorable part of my son Ethan's first visit to the University of Oklahoma was the tornado that touched down in Norman and lifted a tree out of the ground outside our hotel room.

But a more pleasant memory was driving on the cobblestone road by Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and seeing the statues of the school's five Heisman Trophy winners.

Likenesses of Billy Vessels, Steve Owens, Billy Sims, Jason White and Sam Bradford have been bronzed in varying poses across the street from the stadium.

A sixth statue will soon be erected after quarterback Baker Mayfield was awarded the trophy Saturday night.

Mayfield got my vote and it was one of the easiest decisions since I began voting for the award in 1997.

I rarely decide before late in the season, and I find early-season projections and polls somewhat amusing.

I prefer to wait until after the conference championship games to cast my ballot, and I did so again this season.

I was 99.9 percent sure Mayfield was my choice, but didn't vote until after Oklahoma's 41-17 win over TCU in the Big 12 championship game.

Mayfield's performance against the Horned Frogs - completing 15 of 23 passes for 243 yards and four touchdowns - only reinforced my decision.

Mayfield's season statistics are just as impressive.

He passed for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns and rushed for 310 yards and five touchdowns while leading the Sooners to a 12-1 record, their third straight Big 12 title, and a berth in the College Football Playoff.

Mayfield showed uncanny accuracy and is on pace to break his own NCAA record for passing efficiency with a mark of 203.76.

Mayfield plays with a chip on his shoulder, which is understandable for someone who was overlooked by virtually every Division I program in the country when he was in high school at Lake Travis.

He walked on at Texas Tech before transferring to Oklahoma where he earned the starting position over Trevor Knight.

Mayfield's passion for the game is unquestioned, but his antics have landed him in trouble more than once.

He irritated some fans when he attempted to plant the Oklahoma flag on the turf in Columbus after the Sooners had defeated Ohio State.

He further infuriated people when he grabbed himself and uttered a curse word during Oklahoma's win at Kansas.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley stripped him of his captaincy and benched him for the first offensive series (that lasted two plays thanks mostly to Kyler Murray) in the Sooners' final home game of the season against West Virginia.

I was asked by someone I respect deeply if I could still vote for Mayfield after the way he conducted himself.

The answer was yes, even though his behavior in the Kansas game was inexcusable.

He didn't steal a laptop, he wasn't living in a house paid for by an agent, and to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't violated NCAA rules.

I spoke with Hank Carter, Mayfield's coach at Lake Travis, who I knew when he was an assistant under Chad Morris at Bay City.

Carter had nothing but good things to say about Mayfield's leadership.

Carter's viewpoint has been echoed by Riley and other coaches such as former Texas coach Mack Brown.

While it will make holidays more pleasant, my vote was not swayed by Ethan's graduating from Oklahoma last December.

During my years as a voter, I have voted for athletes from a number of schools, including Southern California and trust me, that's not easy for a UCLA graduate to do.

Mayfield was also a finalist for last year's Heisman Trophy when I cast my top vote for Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Interestingly, Ethan informed me of a petition being circulated in Oklahoma to have Mayfield's statue cast with him planting the Oklahoma flag.

Ethan said the petition already has thousands of signatures.

That's one decision I'm glad I don't have to make.

Mike Forman is the sports editor for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com.


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