clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Christian McCaffrey, Stanford football, and a brief history of inconsistent Heisman Trophy voting

Heisman Trophy voters are not a monolith, nor are their criteria consistent. Can Christian McCaffrey succeed where Andrew Luck and Toby Gerhart could not?

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

"Heisman" is the memorable word from Christian McCaffrey's postgame interview from the Rose Bowl, yet the words aren't his. The man who repeated this word was a Stanford fan. Like many Stanford fans, he was frustrated that a deserving Stanford player did not bring home the Heisman Trophy. Four of the last seven Heisman runner ups have been a Stanford player, and a Stanford player should've arguably won three of those times. After being kept from the Heisman trophy all these years, it's time Stanford reclaimed the Heisman trophy.

The year is 2009, and Toby Gerhart has brought Stanford football back from the dead. Prior to Toby Gerhart, Stanford struggled and had a 1-11 record only a short time before. With Toby Gerhart's power running ability, Stanford had an 8-5 record, but that year was headlined by Toby Gerharts mind blowing stats. Leading the league with 1871 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns, Toby Gerhart finished 2nd in Heisman voting. The winner, Mark Ingram, had worse stats but somehow still won. It was the closest vote in Heisman history, and voters claim Ingram won because he led Alabama to National Championship.

Fast forward two years to 2011. The previous year, Cam Newton rightfully wins the Heisman with Andrew Luck finishing 2nd. 2011 was expected to be the year Stanford brought back the Heisman. In 2011, Andrew Luck had an incredible season with over 3500 yards and 37 touchdowns. He led Stanford to an 11-1 record and a Fiesta Bowl heading into the vote, but it was to no avail. Robert Griffin III led his team to a moderate 8-4 record but had great stats of his own. Although Griffin had better stats, voters did not stay consistent with their voting habits from two years earlier. If voters voted purely on stats, Gerhart should've won, but if voters contributed record to their method, Luck should've won. It's safe to say that a Stanford player should have claimed the Heisman at least one of those two seasons.

The year is 2015, and Christian McCaffrey's dynamic play style is made known to everyone except the Heisman voters. Christian McCaffrey was so good last season that he broke a twenty-six year old all-purpose yardage record held by the legendary Barry Sanders. Christian McCaffrey was no doubt deserving of the Heisman Trophy. But why did Christian McCaffrey not win? He certainly had one of the greatest individual seasons of all time, but apparently no one was awake to see him do it. With multiple games starting very late in the Eastern time zone many voters did not see Christian McCaffrey's record breaking year. But, in the age of DVR's on demand television and even the ability to watch replays of games online are time zones really a valid excuse? Shouldn't it be the voters' responsibility to watch all the candidates equally? It seems fair to me. In my mind, there is no doubt that Christian McCaffrey should have won the Heisman Trophy this year.

The time is now, and Stanford fans look forward to next year. With Christian McCaffrey on their side, nothing can stand in their way. If McCaffrey can have another spectacular season next year, and if Stanford has a berth in the College Football Playoff, McCaffrey will no doubt win the Heisman Trophy. Unlike Gerhart and Luck, McCaffrey could lead the team with the best stats in the nation and a trip to the playoff. Neither Gerhart nor Luck had both, which made voting uneasy.

In 2016, if Christian McCaffrey and Stanford deliver the type of season they are capable of then he should finally bring the Heisman back to the Farm. Alternatively, the Heisman voters could find a new reason not to vote for the most outstanding player in the country.