Heading into last week’s matchup with the Trojans, Stanford’s Toby Gerhart was 6th in ESPN’s 2009 Heisman Watch. Gerhart was placed behind Mark Ingram, Tebow, McCoy, C.J. Spiller and Kellen Moore. After torching USC’s defense for 178 yards and 3 touchdowns, ESPN decided to move him up the ladder. What took so long? Gerhart has put up staggering numbers all season long. And speaking of USC’s defense, is there a more overrated player in college football than Taylor Mays? His weaknesses have been exposed all season long without the 4 NFL linebackers in front of him that he had last year. I feel bad for the fans of the NFL team that reaches for Mays in the draft come April.
Back to Toby. Gerhart has 100 more rushing yards and 9 more rushing touchdowns than Mark Ingram, who is ranked number 1 on ESPN’s Heisman list. Granted, Gerhart has more carries than Ingram, but only because Alabama has more options on offense. Trent Richardson is extremely capable of putting up comparable numbers to Ingram. I’m not saying Ingram isn’t great; he deserves to be on this list because of his consistent play all season, but he’s not even the most important player on his team. Terrence Cody’s two field goal blocks against Tennessee are the only reasons Bama is number 2 in the nation. Teams facing Stanford know that Gerhart is going to get 25+ touches a game and still no one can stop him. He is by far the best and most exciting player on their team, and in my opinion, the nation.
2009 Heisman candidates from the SEC no longer have the argument that they play against the toughest competition in college football. The competition in the SEC and the Pac 10 is not the same this year as it has been in recent years. The SEC is still the best conference in the nation based on having the number 1 and 2 teams in the nation, but the deepest conference in college football in 2009 is the Pac 10. The Pac 10 has 5 teams in the BCS top 25 compared to the SEC’s 3. Watching some of the Alabama and other SEC games this year reminds me of watching the Big 10. For those of you who don’t watch the Big 10, you haven’t missed anything. It once again consists of good defenses and inept offenses led by mediocre quarterback play. The Pac 10 champ, Stanford or Oregon, will dominate the Buckeyes in Pasadena. It’s unfortunate that Pac 10 games are difficult to find on TV east of Phoenix- the rest of the country is missing the most exciting conference in football.
Stanford got off to a slow start this season and the 3 early losses are the reason why Toby is not the Heisman favorite today. Now, as one of the hottest teams in the country, with two more victories over Cal and Notre Dame, and a Florida victory over Bama in the SEC championship game (due to Bama’s bad quarterback play), Toby will be the last man standing in the Heisman Race, and his skin color won’t prevent him from being there.