Monday, November 26, 2012

Why Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te'o Should Win the Heisman

Let me preface this argument by saying that I don't like Notre Dame. I hate Notre Dame. I do get goosebumps while watching Rudy but apart from that I'm vehemently against anything that glorifies or promotes or helps Notre Dame in any way shape or form.

That being said, I think Manti Te'o, a linebacker for the Fighting Irish, should win the Heisman.

Maybe it's because I want to see a defensive player win the Heisman. Maybe it's because he's Hawaiian but his last name backwards looks semi-Irish (O'et). His name backwards also looks like the name of a mythical Druidic warrior from some ancient Irish saga.

Anyway, my argument for Manti Te'o to win the Heisman is two-pronged. Firstly, there is no clear-cut offensive candidate to win the Heisman. Secondly, Te'o does something that is a rare accomplishment for defensive players.

There is no RG3 this season. There are some fine Heisman candidates with impressive stats. Although few of them are on teams contending for a national title. And none of them are especially outstanding. Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M has had a fine year, but he's not amazing. Collin Klein of Kansas State is a dual threat QB, but that's nothing new. Marquise Lee is a ridiculously talented wide receiver who probably deserves it more than any QB, but he's still a receiver dependent on a talented passer to deliver the ball to him.

So there's no outright offensive player who has a strong claim to the Heisman.

Here is why Manti Te'o should therefore win it: He controls the game on defense. That is exceedingly difficult to do. It's easier for a quarterback, who handles the ball almost every down, to control the game. But for a defensive player to exert as much influence on the game as Manti Te'o does is simply extraordinary.

Te'o would be the first defensive player since Charles Woodson in 1997 to win the Heisman. The award is almost never given to a strictly defensive player. Even Woodson returned punts and played a few snaps as a wide receiver.

But considering there's no clear offensive candidate, and that Te'o is the best player on a #1 team, and that he controls the game as much as any defensive player could, I think he deserves the trophy.

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