When Oklahoma and Florida meet in the BCS National Championship game on January 8th, the storyline should be about the showdown between Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford.
Much like Tebow did in last year his sophomore season, Bradford has taken college football by storm this season as a sophomore and now the debate officially begins over who is more deserving to win this year’s Heisman Trophy, the defending trophy winner with more celebrity power or the newcomer with more statistical power.
These days the Heisman Trophy is based largely on statistical performance and that fact helped Tebow as much as it has anyone.
Last year some said Arkansas’ Darren McFadden should have won because he was a more exciting football player than Tebow and others thought Missouri’s Chase Daniel was more deserving because his team was more successful than Tebow’s.
Despite losing three games in the regular season and a fourth in a bowl game, Tebow still won the 2007 Heisman Trophy.
Because he scored 55 total touchdowns and was college football’s first 20-20 player, meaning he threw for 20 touchdowns and ran for 20 touchdowns. And looking back on it Darren McFadden, Chase Daniel and Colt Brennan weren’t all that stiff of competition.
This year is different, Tebow’s numbers are down across the board and his 23 rushing touchdowns from 2007 nearly dropped in half to 12 this year. All the while, his competition for the trophy got a lot tougher.
In the Big 12 alone Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, Texas’ Colt McCoy and Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell have all thrown for more yards and more touchdowns than Tebow on teams that, like the Gators, lost only one game this season.
However, from start to finish, no one in the country rivaled the kind of season that Bradford has had in 2008. Bradford’s season line is stunning: 48 passing touchdowns, 4464 passing yards and six rushing touchdowns to boot.
By comparison Tebow’s line almost looks pedestrian: 28 passing touchdowns, 2,515 passing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.
Some have argued that Tebow’s strong finish to the end of the season should earn him the Heisman, but even his valiant late season efforts against Florida State and Alabama were matched or exceeded by Bradford, who threw 14 touchdowns, zero interceptions and no less than 300 yards in his last four games of the season.
Tebow had a four game stretch in the middle of the season in which he never reached 200 yards passing, whereas Bradford went four games at one point without throwing for less than 370 yards.
Bradford did, however, throw for less than 200 yards in one game this season, the Sooners’ season opener against UTC when he only played the first half and Oklahoma won 57-2.
Sure, the video clips of Tebow after the Ole Miss game guaranteeing that nobody will work harder than him are emotionally riveting, but those kinds of things should not factor into the Heisman voting.
The point is that same standard that won the Heisman for Tebow last year should do the same for Bradford this weekend.
With the hype growing around the possibility of back-to-back trophies for Tebow, one has to ask if those six extra rushing touchdowns really outweigh Bradford’s 20 extra passing touchdowns and 1949 extra passing yards.
The fun part of this is that we will see if the statistics indeed do tell the whole story when Tebow and Bradford meet in Miami.
If the Heisman Trophy winner’s team does not come out on top, this is certain to be one of the most controversial Heisman Trophies ever awarded.