clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Stanford football 2015: Christian McCaffrey is elite but don’t get Heisman fever…YET

Christian McCaffrey may be in the Heisman Trophy conversation, but he will unlikely get the respect he deserves.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As Stanford was torturing UCLA "Game of Thrones" style, Christian McCaffrey turned into Jon Snow and was treating the UCLA defense like White Walkers and destroying anyone that "tried" to come near him. McCaffrey came into the game competing with Tyler Ervin from San Jose State for the most all-purpose yards per game. McCaffrey finished the game not only first in the country in all-purpose yards but he rushed for 243 yards and broke Toby Gerhart's single-game rushing record (223) with a minute to the 3rd quarter. Last but not least, he became a Heisman candidate. Now before we jump aboard the #McCaffrey4Heisman campaign, let's look into detail of the history of the Heisman real quick and how Stanford has played a part in it.

The Heisman Trophy is considered the most prestigious award you can receive as a college football player and some will say it might be the best award you can receive at any level in any sport. In 1935, Jay Berwanger became the very first Heisman winner and this will be the 80th anniversary of the Heisman Trophy. In that span, there has only been 1 repeat winner (Archie Griffin). 39 different schools have at least 1 Heisman winner.

Stanford is one of those schools. In 1970, Jim Plunkett was awarded the Heisman Trophy. At that point in time, it was a monumental feat as the closest Stanford ever came to the award was a 3rd place finish by Frankie Albert in 1941. In 1982, John Elway lost to Herschel Walker and there really were no complaints as Walker led Georgia to an 11-1 record with an undefeated conference record while Stanford was 5-6 and had just come off of "The Play". Coming in 2nd was such an accomplishment and really showed how good Elway was. Again, as of 1982, the Heisman went to the best player in the country.

Fast forward to the new generation of the "Heisman Trophy". McCaffrey is already getting more love than Toby Gerhart or Andrew Luck but that still doesn't make me believe he has a chance. This isn't putting down McCaffrey in any way, just being honest with how the voting process works. As of right now, Leonard Fournette is the only candidate in my mind and there is everyone else. Fournette not only leads the country in rushing yards and rushing yards per game, he plays for an undefeated LSU team in the SEC it will be next to impossible to vote against Fournette.

Say Fournette either turns back into a mortal human or LSU loses a few games and McCaffrey and Stanford continue taking care of business, would enough voters pick a west coast guy who looks like he couldn't ride most roller coasters or the "name guy" from an SEC school. That answer goes back to the 2009 year. Toby Gerhart was screwed out of the Heisman and lost to Alabama's Mark Ingram. The reasoning that year was because he "didn't play for a national champion contender".

Instead Gerhart played for an 8-5 Stanford team that went to their first bowl game in 8 years. Gerhart not only carried Stanford on his back like a true Heisman would but he had better numbers than Ingram. Gerhart had 200 more rushing yards than Ingram, three 200-yard games to Ingram's one, and 26 touchdowns to Ingram's 17 and I'm counting both postseason games. The media said "Gerhart is flashy and electric and Ingram just gets the job done." So to answer if McCaffrey can be electric and a Heisman winner, he better hope every name player looks terrible in the next month and a half.

So you ask what if Stanford finishes 12-1 and is in the College Football Playoff and McCaffrey continues to put up video game numbers? The answer again is NO. Not trying to be down on this subject but Andrew Luck was treated to a 2nd place finish back to back years because the award is driven by people on the East Coast who would probably rather watch reruns of Modern Family than Stanford football. Luck lost 1 game in 2010 and 1 regular season game in 2011. The first year was because he too got in a fight with someone from the SEC. Luck had better numbers as an overall player but Auburn was undefeated. No shot.

In 2011 when the award was supposedly based on the "best player on the best team", Luck led Stanford to a co-championship with Oregon and improved in every statistical category from the season before. He was not only the best quarterback in college football, but the best PLAYER in college football. To add the cherry on top, he was the best college player in years.... He lost to Robert Griffin. The media said "he was flashy and electric and Luck had a weak strength of schedule, or did not have a flashy finish." RG3 won largely for the same reasons Gerhart lost and the inconsistencies of Heisman voters are readily apparent. Christian McCaffrey could play for a 6-6 Stanford team, a 9-3 team or a playoff bound 12-1 team and the media will still likely pick against Stanford.

I hope McCaffrey and company continue to win games and win big but as far as the Heisman is concerned, I don't like the award and I have lost respect for it. I would love for McCaffrey to get his respect but we should probably start the #McCaffreyfor2ndplace campaign.