2013 Heisman Finalists Named, How Did the Preseason Oddsmakers Do?
Despite the arctic (for Houston) temperatures outside, September feels like it just got here yesterday, because in the blink of an eye, the 2013 college football season is now over. With all but one (salute Army, salute Navy) of the regular season games now behind us, the next item on the agenda is to crown the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner.
Historically, the previous 78 awards have been reserved largely for seniors. However, in the last 15 years or so, with more juniors leaving early for the NFL and underclassmen becoming more precocious, we've not only seen many non-seniors win the award, we've seen winners get repeat invitations as finalists the following season.
Since 2003, Jason White, Matt Leinart and Tim Tebow have all made return visits to New York as the defending Heisman Trophy winner.
Yesterday, it was announced that Texas A&M phenom, legend and party crasher Johnny Manziel will join that list, earning a repeat invite to this year's ceremony in the Big Apple (this year as a 21-year-old, which might deserve its own blog post).
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The finalists are as follows:
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama Andre Williams, RB, Boston College Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
If six finalists looks like a big number, it's because it is. Typically, there are anywhere from three (like last season with Manziel, Manti Te'o and Collin Klein) to five. The last time there were six was in 1994 (Trivia: Won by Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam).
I think it goes without saying that, much like last year's ceremony was an inevitable coronation for Manziel, this year's ceremony is essentially the Jameis Winston Invitational, with the Florida State phenom expected to take home the award with a fairly comfortable winning margin. This despite his being the focus of a sexual assault investigation for the last several weeks, an investigation that ended with no charges.
So barring injury or off the field drama, it's quite likely that Winston, a redshirt freshman, joins the list of returning winners next season. Most certainly, like Manziel this season, he will enter the 2014 season as the odds-on favorite to repeat taking home the honors. And like in February 2013, that will be reflected in next season's first round of Heisman odds (coming to a betting website near you, presumably, in February 2014).
Also, Winston's victory will keep alive a streak that has seen four of the last five Heisman Trophies won by a player who is not even available for wagering upon at the beginning of the season (Mark Ingram, Cam Newton, Manziel and now Winston), the exception being Baylor's Robert Griffin III, who was still a moderate longshot at anywhere from 15/1 to 25/1. In fact, you couldn't get betting odds (that I'm aware of) on four of the six finalists from this season (Winston, Lynch, Williams, Mason).
So while we are on that topic, let's go back and look at the first round of preseason 2013 Heisman Trophy betting odds and see how the oddsmakers did. (The answer: Unless there was a lot of money on "Field," where "Field" bets are available, they cleaned up.) Here are the list of candidates with their odds from back in February 2013, along with my comments from February 2013 (if applicable) and their final results for the 2013 regular season, at my kitchen table:
JOHNNY MANZIEL (QB Texas A&M) 4/1 2013 Results, Manziel: In the top two for most of the season, Manziel faltered (relatively speaking) down the stretch as the Aggies lost their final two games to finish 8-4 and "earn" a trip to the Chick Fil A Bowl. Still, Manziel managed to finish in the top 10 in virtually all of the important passing categories, and was third in total offense. A likely top 5 pick in the upcoming draft, he probably won't be back next season. The oddsmakers were about right on Manziel repeating his big 2012 season.
BRAXTON MILLER (QB Ohio State) 7/1 MARQUIS LEE (WR USC) 9/1
February 2013 comments: So after Manziel, you have the next two highest returning votegetters from the 2012 Heisman in Miller and Lee. With Ohio State's relatively easy schedule and likely lofty ranking heading into 2013, Miller is much better value than Manziel with almost double the payout. Lee is an awful value at 9/1 considering USC will be breaking in a new quarterback, Robert Woods won't be running on the other side to attract attention, and wide receivers generally don't win this thing.
2013 Results, Miller: Had a solid individual season (14th in passer efficiency) with 22 touchdown passes and only five interceptions, leading the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season and a berth in the Orange Bowl. Missing a couple games with injury (where the Buckeyes didn't skip a beat) probably hurt him for this award. The question now becomes whether or not he will return next season.
2013 Results, Lee: A victim of a largely anemic USC offense, Lee saw his stats plummet, with his yardage going from 1723 in 2012 to 673 in 2013, and his touchdowns go from 14 down to 2. It will be interesting to see what Lee's stock will be in the draft (assuming he leaves early), as he might have been the first receiver taken in 2013 if he could have left.
DE'ANTHONY THOMAS (RB Oregon) 10/1 2013 Results, Thomas: Only played in nine games and didn't have nearly the number of "WOW" moments as he did his first two years in school. Wasn't even the best candidate on his own team.
AARON MURRAY (QB Georgia) 10/1
February 2013 comments: My personal favorite on this big board is Murray at 10/1. The schedule is much tougher this season than last season for the Bulldogs, but Manziel showed last season that the tough SEC schedule can be as much opportunity as it is obstacle. Georgia opens with Clemson and South Carolina. 2-0 in those two games would put Murray firmly in the mix. Of course....
2013 Results, Murray: Georgia was snakebitten by injuries all season long at the skill positions, an affliction that eventually swept up Murray as he tore his ACL in the final month of the season, and will now head on to become a mid round NFL pick.
JADEVEON CLOWNEY (DE South Carolina) 12/1
February 2013 comments: ....Clowney will have something to say about that. If you're looking for a Ndamukong Suh-type candidate, he's your guy. Also, he will be the first pick in the 2014 draft. Book that.
2013 Results, Clowney: Good, not great, felt like he went through the motions for much of the season, a perception not really squelched by his head coach Steve Spurrier who seemed to question Clowney's desire to get on the field. Didn't finish in the top 100 in tackles for loss, and no highlight plays even close to the play where he beheaded that poor Michigan running back. Still, likely to be a top 3 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. (Damn, little did I know when I said what I did in February that the Texans would likely be the ones with that first pick!) A.J. MCCARRON (QB Alabama) 12/1
February 2013 comments: Alabama and A&M hook up in the third week of the season in College Station. Look for the quarterback of the winning team to be the following Monday's Heisman darling. Look for both to wind up banging a smoking hot coed after the game.
2013 Results, McCarron: A finalist based in part because of a solid to, at times, spectacular career (two national championships, ridiculous touchdown to interception numbers, boinking Katherine Webb), McCarron would likely have won the award if the Winston sexual assault investigation had gone anywhere. As it is, the odds-on favorite to be the runner up. (It's funny, Manziel actually came out of that early season matchup as the stronger Heisman candidate in a loss.)
DUKE JOHNSON (RB Miami) 12/1 2013 Results, Johnson: On his way to avery good 2013 season with 920 yards in eight games before shredding his knee in the second half of the loss to Florida State. If he bounces back healthy, a dark horse candidate next season.
TAJH BOYD (QB Clemson) 15/1
February 2013 comments: Boyd might have been the best quarterback not named "Manziel" by the end of the 2012 season. He will put up crazy numbers in 2013, and like Murray, will have a chance to make an early statement in that UGA-Clemson opener.
2013 Results, Boyd: Made the early statement against Georgia, but lost the other two games (blow out against Florida State, season finale against South Carolina) in what was essentially a three game season. 10-2 and a berth in the Orange Bowl is a perfect metaphor for Boyd's senior season, good but oddly disappointing.
TAYLOR MARTINEZ (QB Nebraska) 15/1
February 2013 comments: Remember during the BCS title game when Brent Musberger encouraged kids all over the state of Alabama to go outside and begin throwing the ball with their old man because A.J. McCarron managed to bag Miss Alabama? Well, if Martinez wins the Heisman do we encourage kids to go outside and start throwing like a third-grade girl?
2013 Results, Martinez: Played four games, obviously a disappointing season, but should be able to turn things around when he comes back for his ninth season at Nebraska next year.
AMEER ABDULLAH (RB Nebraska) 18/1
February 2013 comments: Seriously? Two Nebraska guys in the top 13? Really?
2013 Results, Abdullah: 1568 yards for an 8-4 team. Nice season, but I stand by what I said in February. Two Nebraska guys in the top 13? Really?
MARCUS MARIOTA (QB Oregon) 18/1
February 2013 comments: If Chip Kelly were still at Oregon, I'd be all over Mariota at 18/1. Then again, if Chip Kelly were still at Oregon, Mariota wouldn't be 18/1.
2013 Results, Mariota: Monster year in transition from Chip Kelly to Mark Helfrich and the favorite at midseason before he got swallowed whole by Stanford's defense on national television on November 7. Has claimed he's coming back to school in 2014 and would enter the season, along with Winston, as one of the odds-on favorites.
T.J. YELDON (RB Alabama) 18/1 2013 Results, Yeldon: A likely favorite next season, had a good 2013 with over 1100 yards and 13 touchdowns. No chance of winning it on the same team with McCarron this season. A sophomore, he will be back next year.
BRETT HUNDLEY (QB UCLA) 20/1
February 2013 comments: Heading into the "may as well burn your money" part of the board. To take a UCLA quarterback, you have to believe UCLA can be a top 5 team. I don't believe that. Not for one goddamn minute.
2013 Results, Hundley: UCLA gave it a better run than I thought they would, rising into the top ten midseason before settling in at 9-3. Hundley feels like a guy who is always going to be thought of more highly by pro scouts than Heisman voters. Rumor has it he wants to go pro, but his family wants him to stay in school.
LACHE SEASTRUNK (RB Baylor) 20/1
February 2013 comments: I know one guy who's firing on Lache Seastrunk at 20/1...Lache Seastrunk!!
2013 Results, Seastrunk: Solid season (1060 yards, 10 touchdowns), but not even the best candidate from his own team. That would be Bryce Petty, who will be a top candidate next season.
EVERETT GOLSON (QB Notre Dame) 22/1 2013 Results, Golson: Booted from school for academic improprieties, he will be back in 2014. Could be a dark horse candidate if he comes back in shape and ready to play.
STEPHEN MORRIS (QB Miami) 25/1 2013 Results, Morris: A win over Florida State in early November would have put him in the mix (despite a four interception game against North Carolina a couple weeks before that). As it is, he's a decent quarterback on a decent team. Nothing to see here.
BLAKE BELL (QB Oklahoma) 30/1
February 2013 comments: Pretty bold to place a wager on a guy before we know if he can throw it more than five yards. I'll pass on the Belldozer.
2013 Results, Bell: Passing on the Belldozer is better than passing with the Belldozer. Lost his starting job before the season, got it back before losing it again at the end of the year. Miraculously, Oklahoma managed to get to a BCS bowl game.
JEFF DRISKEL (QB Florida) 30/1 2013 Results, Driskel: Injured and knocked out for the season before the season got really bad for Florida.
KA'DEEM CAREY (RB Arizona) 33/1
February 2013 comments: An Arizona running back...seriously I'd rather put a homeless guy in a sleeper hold and then jam a hundred dollar bill in his unconscious mouth like Ted DiBiase used to do just for fun than bet a hundy on Ka'Deem Carey to win the Heisman.
2013 Results, Carey: My comments on Carey, in retrospect, were way off as Carey floated onto the radar toward the end of the season with 206 yards in a win over Oregon. As it is, he wound up with a great season (1716 yards in 11 games) on an average team. My recommendation for him would be to go pro before Rich Rodriguez tacks another 322 carries on his odometer.
DEVIN GARDNER (QB Michigan) 40/1
February 2013 comments: This is actually intriguing. Michigan should be a pretty solid team in Year 3 of the Brady Hoke Era and Gardner was actually more in control of the offense when he played last season than Denard Robinson was.
2013 Results, Gardner: After leading the Wolverines to a shaky 5-0 start, the bottom fell out on the season in October and November, going 2-5 down the stretch. His best game was his last game, leading Michigan to a near upset of Ohio State on one leg.
STEFON DIGGS (WR Maryland) 40/1
February 2013 comments: Maryland wide receiver....like I said about Carey, find me a homeless guy. I'm ready to slap on that sleeper hold.
2013 Results, Diggs: Yeah, I may have been off on Carey. Not Diggs. Seven games, 34 catches, 587 yards. Yay.
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