CNHI News Service

Sports

December 5, 2012

COLUMN: Irish's Te'o a worthy Heisman choice

“The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.”

--Heisman Trust Mission Statement

GOSHEN, Ind. -- The Heisman Trophy is supposed to go to the nation’s best college football player.

Not, despite what the national media might tell you, the best quarterback, the best running back, or the best wide receiver.

There’s nothing in the rules that says the nation’s most coveted college football award has to go to an offensive skill player at all.

And on occasion, it hasn’t. Charles Woodson, a Michigan standout who now toils for the Green Bay Packers, comes to mind.

Next Saturday night, when the 2012 recipient is announced at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York, if the Heisman voters want to pick someone who embodies each and every one of the qualities sought in their  mission statement, there’s one clear choice.

That choice is Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o.

The resume Te’o brings to the table is staggering: A four-year career; 48 career starts in 50 games played; 427 total tackles; 34 tackles for loss for a total of 114 yards lost.

And this year, seven interceptions.

Quite frankly, Te’o is,  above and beyond, the best college football player in the country.

And as far as diligence, perseverance and hard work — those qualities fit Te’o better than any other player I can think of at the moment.

The East Coast media and the four-letter network that seems to call the tune for college sports these days has spent much time lately hyping the latest flavor-of-the week candidate.

Heisman voters should ignore the latest hypefest and take a good, long look at a player right here in our own backyard.

Much has been made of Te’o’s personal tragedies this season: Losing his girlfriend and grandmother on the same day — and then going out and playing one of the best games of his life that night against Michigan State.

Watching the end of that game here in the office on a busy Saturday night — anyone who has been in Teo’s position, a group that includes me — knows well that you can only put off grief for so long.

It’s a patient emotion, and eventually it’s coming for its pound of flesh — on its terms.

I found tears coming to my own eyes as I watched Te’o on the sidelines, the emotions of the day finally hitting him, tears rolling down his cheeks.

As the Irish players hit the field before each game at Notre Dame Stadium, they pass by a sign that exhorts them to “Play like a champion today.”

And to do that, first you need the heart of a champion.

Manti Te’o has that and then some.

Give him the Heisman.

---

David Vantress is a columnist for The Goshen (Ind.) News.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Is this a commercial for batting gloves or a baseball game?

    Major league baseball desperately needs to speed up the action. Here's a place to start: Nix the mind-numbing ritual of hitters who first adjust the right batting glove, then the left one, after every single pitch.
     

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Another stumble begs questions about Notre Dame

    Notre Dame's vaunted reputation for formidable athletics and serious academics is again sullied by a cheating scandal. Maybe the high standards of the Fighting Irish are just too good to be true.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg OU player's suspension shows pitfalls of addressing sexual assault on campus

    The University of Oklahoma's leading tackler is suspended for the season - or maybe not. Frank Shannon is still practicing with the Sooners amid a court battle over whether OU can discipline him after a sexual assault investigation. The tough issue of addressing assault on campus isn't just OU's problem.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg College sports upended by NCAA vote, judge's ruling

    Big-name conferences have leave to write their own rules, and a federal judge is forcing colleges to share television and marketing royalties with players. The guise of amateurism is gone from college athletics. What's next is anyone's guess.

    August 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Baseball still catching on to official reviews

    The Marlins clung to a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning against the Reds last week when an official review of a play at the plate changed everything. The game's controversial outcome - Cincinnati won 3-1 - illustrates baseball's struggle to adjust to the new replay system.

     

    August 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Comiskey.jpg Sterling not the only bad sports team owner

    As the Donald Sterling era in with the Los Angeles Clippers looks to be winding down, many are calling him the worst owner in sports history. From being cheap with the players to his most recent racist comments, it's hard to argue against.
    Yet, there are a few owners of athletic teams who can give Sterling a run for title of worst in history.

    August 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Grandstands feel a little empty at NASCAR races

    Two decades after NASCAR started running at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the crowds have thinned considerably. It's probably no reflection on the sport's massive following, which stretches from coast to coast, but it surely doesn't NASCAR's image help when the cameras pan across all of those empty seats.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Sideshows involving Rice and Dungy stain NFL's image

    Pro football training camps should be all about, well, football. But the talk around the NFL is about Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's two-game suspension, Tony Dungy's indelicate remarks about Michael Sam and Jim Irsay's largesse. What kind of league is Roger Goodell running?

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

News

Features

Opinion