Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein were all named 2012 Heisman finalists on Monday.
The fact that only three players will travel to New York this year speaks to how weak the field was. Really, the only noteworthy omission appears to be USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, and even he didn’t make a strong enough case for himself for anyone to be truly outraged.
Klein was viewed as the Heisman frontrunner for a large chunk of the season, right up until his school's inexplicable loss to Baylor. The main case for him went something like this: he’s the best player on the nation’s best team. Therefore, he deserves it. Or something. Unfortunately, when K-State lost its distinction as “the nation’s best team,” the case for Klein taking home this award fell apart pretty quickly, too.
The Baylor game that took Klein out of contention occurred a week after Manziel led Texas A&M to a shocking upset victory over Alabama. That outing (and his dominance in it) catapulted Johnny Football to the top of everyone’s Heisman board – and nobody has really done anything to knock him off that perch since then.
Te’o is the best defensive player on the best team in the country. His case is similar to the one Klein boasted at one point – except obviously he plays on the other side of the ball. It’s sort of difficult to justify giving a defensive player who isn’t even top-three at his position this award, but it very well could happen because of how enchanted folks are with all things Notre Dame.
In a just world Manziel would win the Heisman and it wouldn’t even be close; because we live in a day and age of voters who value intangibles over a little something called reality, though, the award very well might end up going home with Te’o.