Tag Archives: Heisman Trophy

Character seems to matter more

OK, one more comment about the Heisman Trophy presentation and I’ll be done.

I’ve been reading since Saturday night’s ceremony honoring University of Oregon All-Universe quarterback Marcus Mariota about the young man’s character.

It is exemplary. And it is made even more so in light of three of the past four Heisman Trophy winners’ own character.


College football needed someone like Mariota to win the Heisman Trophy.

His athletic exploits are — to borrow a term he’s used in recent days to describe his Heisman experience — utterly “surreal.” Football experts and casual fans of the game understand what he’s done on the field.

It’s the off-the-field stuff he does and things he does when no one’s looking that seems to matter more.

Auburn’s Cam Newton won the honor in 2010 amid a recruiting scandal; Johnny “Football” Manziel at Texas A&M won the honor two years later and has behaved in a less-than-gentlemanly manner all too often; Florida State’s Jameis Winston has those sexual abuse charges hanging over his head. In the middle of that Heisman sequence is Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, another fine young man.

Marcus Mariota? Well, he got a ticket for speeding several weeks ago. He paid the fine and apologized for messing up.

In truth, the other two finalists for the Heisman — Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon and Alabama receiver Amari Cooper — also fit the Boy Scout mode. Everyone’s a winner, as the presenter said immediately before announcing Marcus Mariota’s name.

I’m obviously glad for Mariota. I’m proud that a football program from my home state of Oregon can boast about one of its athletes’ high honor. I also am glad for college football, which has awarded its best-player-in-the-country trophy to a young man who’s a role model — and is proud of it.



Looking forward to watching this young man evolve

Watching the Heisman Trophy presentation to the University of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota leaves me with several takeaways.


* As a native of Oregon, it was great fun to watch the second Heisman winner come out of my home state. This one’s a bit different, though, from the first one. Oregon State quarterback Terry Baker won the award in 1962. He didn’t fare well with the pros and washed out after a couple of seasons. He then went on to law school, became a successful lawyer and has lived an exemplary life. Mariota hails from Honolulu; Baker, though, is a native of Portland — the same home town as yours truly. So I feel a bit more of an Oregon kinship with Baker than with Mariota.

* Mariota’s decided lack of flash is a wonder to me, given all the bells and whistles associated with the Ducks’ football program. It’s well-funded, chiefly by Nike founder — and Oregon grad — Phil Knight. Everyone talks about the vast uniform ensembles from which the Ducks choose to wear every game day. Their training facilities are the best in the nation. Their home stadium is among the loudest venues in the country. Mariota, though, chooses to avoid the spotlight.

* The young man is humble. I mean, truly humble. Watch his speech on the link I’ve attached to this blog and you will be convinced that his humility is genuine.

* Finally, I look forward to watching him turn professional. If he succeeds in the National Football League, then I will interested in seeing how his public persona develops, changes and evolves. He’ll be asked to speak — a lot — to the media. He’s a young man now, 21 years of age. He has his degree. He’s got one more year of football eligibility left at Oregon; do not expect him to stay, now that his classwork is done.

His remarks after receiving the Heisman Trophy tonight were truly remarkable.

Sap that I am, I wept just a little as I watched Marcus’s dad wipe the tears from his eyes.

Well done, Marcus. Now, it’s time to beat Florida State in the Rose Bowl.


Ducks facing dreaded SI jinx

I’m sweating bullets.

My University of Oregon Ducks are rated as the second-best college football team in the country, right behind Alabama’s Crimson Tide. So what happened to the Ducks this week? Their Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, Marcus Mariota, ends up on the cover of the nation’s premier sports magazine.

Why the heavy perspiration? It’s that dreaded Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx. Players and teams fairly routinely end up on the cover — only to tank it the next time they compete.

The Ducks are facing next Thursday what looks like their most difficult opponent. They travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on the Stanford Cardinal, the No. 5-ranked team in the country and a team that a year ago went to the Ducks’ crib in Eugene and smashed its way to a 17-14 upset victory.

I say “smashed” because that’s the kind of football the Cardinal plays. Stanford is big, tough and it just loves to keep the football out of the other team’s hands, which for Oregon is terrible. The Ducks faced Ohio State in the Rose Bowl a couple of seasons ago and the Buckeyes beat the Ducks 26-17 by doing what Stanford is so good at doing.

I’m not going to be a Gloomy Gus here and predict the Ducks will lose next Thursday. They have been virtually unstoppable all season long. Their go-go offense has run up a lot of points on some good teams.

It’s that SI jinx, though, that has me worried. Will it bite the Ducks in their tails?

The story is quite flattering. It says the Ducks have reinvented the West Coast Offense. Mariota is considered a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. The Ducks just might be heading for the national championship game.

Quick, let’s hide all copies of the SI issue from the Ducks. Don’t let ’em read it.

Emphatic ‘no!’ on paying college athletes

I saw a Time magazine cover yesterday at work, with a picture of Johnny “Football” Manziel on its cover and a headline that says it’s time to pay college athletes.

I don’t need to read the article thoroughly to know I’ll disagree with it. Its premise is wrong on its face — in my humble view.

Manziel, of course, is the Texas A&M University Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who endured a half-game suspension as his “punishment” for getting paid for autographs he signed. Manziel has become the poster boy for this ridiculous assertion that college athletes need to be paid for their services.

What utter nonsense.

They get paid already. Handsomely, too. The payment comes in the form of a free college education. Manziel is a blue-chip athlete who received a full-ride scholarship to Texas A&M. Did he get that scholarship because of his academic prowess? No. He’s being paid for his football skills, which put more than 80,000 people in the seats at Kyle Field and fills other stadiums to capacity wherever else the Aggies play football on any given Saturday.

How much would Johnny Football be paying if he wasn’t compensated? He’s pay about $8,000 annually in tuition and another $8,000 per year for room and board. I haven’t even calculated the cost of books, lab fees and other ancillary expenses that go with getting a college education.

Manziel gets paid. So do any of the scholarship athletes who compete in any college in the nation.

Pay these people? You must be kidding.

I remain wedded to the notion that student-athletes should have to toe the line. They should go to school, crack the books, study hard, work with tutors to help them get through those periods when they’re away from school participating in athletic events — and then play their guts out when the whistle sounds to start the game.

Mr. Football and his fellow scholarship athletes do not need more payment for demonstrating their athletic prowess.

Hilarious ‘punishment’ for Johnny Football

I laughed out loud a little while ago when I heard the news: Johnny “Football” Manziel will be suspended for the first half of Texas A&M’s game with Rice for breaking a rule prohibiting players from getting paid for autographs.

Why even have any punishment if that’s all he’s going to get?


Manziel won the Heisman Trophy this past season as a freshman. He’s been a sensation at College Station. Manziel may be one of the exciting football players in the past half-century.

But then he got ahead of himself, apparently, when he signed autographs and reportedly got paid for his signature. The allegations have prompted debate over whether college athletes should be paid. My view? The free college education that blue-chip athletes get at these schools is payment enough, thank you very much.

My thought was that Johnny Football would get much more of a punishment than he got. Maybe half a season. But half a game?

The NCAA enforcers cannot possibly be serious.

Johnny Football fumbles at key moment

My old friend Tom Taschinger has it exactly correct.

Writing for the Beaumont Enterprise, Taschinger takes dead aim at Johnny “Football” Manziel’s troubles stemming from an autograph signing debacle that well could effectively cost him the rest of his college football career.


The NCAA is looking into whether Manziel took money for signing the autographs. This is not a difficult case to prove or disprove. Either he took the dough or he didn’t. If he did, then Johnny Football is facing a possible season-long suspension by the NCAA.

Can there be any clearer message for the young quarterback, the first freshman in NCAA history to win the Heisman Trophy, that he isn’t supposed to take money for signing his name? If he did, the young Texas A&M quarterback has messed up royally.

Taschinger wrote this: “Manziel apparently signed autographs for memorabilia dealers — dealers! — in six separate sessions last season. We’re talking hours-long sessions and thousands of items. Big money even was said to have changed hands.

“Folks, that’s not a borderline violation. It’s as blatant as a quarterback being leveled by a defender five seconds after releasing the ball. You have to wonder what Johnny Football was thinking while he was grinding out those signatures — and why his parents or a coach didn’t step in and save him.”

I don’t want this story to pan out. It’s looking as though it will. There will be an accounting made of who paid Manziel the money if that’s what comes to pass. If it does, I fear the cheering at Kyle Field this season is going to be a bit muted without Johnny Football taking the snaps.

He would have no one else in the entire world to blame but himself.

Now it’s Johnny Football?

Is there no end to the chuckleheaded behavior of noted American athletes?

New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has been suspended by big league baseball, along with a dozen other players over allegations they took performance-enhancing drugs.

Now it’s Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M University Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who’s under investigation for taking money for signing autographs.


The Aggies have opened their football camp and are thought to be among the top five college football teams in the country. Manziel, aka Johnny Football, is a big reason why A&M is riding so high.

Now, though, the NCAA is said to be investigating whether Johnny Football broke one of the singularly rules of college football. Somewhere in the NCAA handbook it says athletes can’t take money for anything. The blue-chip athletes get a free college education in exchange for applying their athletic skill. Therefore, taking money – or trading on their famous name – is forbidden expressly by the rules.

Did Johnny Manziel take money or didn’t he for taking part in an autograph-signing session?

I sincerely hope the young man didn’t do it. However, I cannot help but think of the old saying about finding fire under all that smoke.