The Best Player In The Country

Tonight on ESPN, the winner of the 2007 Heisman Award will be revealed. Although four finalists were named, everyone knows that this is really a two horse race between Florida QB Tim Tebow and Arkansas RB Darren McFadden.

Make no mistake—Darren McFadden is the best player in the country, but due to the love fest that Tebow has received from the media all season long, I fear that D-Mac, the best player in college football for the last two years, will go home empty-handed again.

My thinking is supported by the results of two other Player of the Year Awards which were handed out on Thursday—the Maxwell Award, voted on by members of the media, went to Tebow while the Walter Camp Award, voted on by coaches (i.e. people who know what they’re talking about) went to McFadden.

Those who favor Tebow largely rely on three arguments to prove that he is superior to McFadden. Let’s examine them more closely.

“McFadden has a lot of talent, but he was inconsistent this year.”

This is the favorite argument of Mark May, ESPN “analyst” and President of the Tim Tebow Fan Club. Proponents of this argument are quick to point out that McFadden had three games this season where he didn’t rush for 100 yards. How can such a player expect to win the Heisman Award?

Against Auburn, the Auburn defense played incredibly well and keyed in on McFadden the whole game, holding him to 43 yards on 17 carries in a 9-7 Arkansas loss. It was a legitimately bad game for McFadden.

Against Florida International, McFadden ran for just 61 yards in a 58-10 Arkansas victory. Another bad game, right? Maybe, until you consider that Florida International turned the ball over so often that Arkansas was often starting possessions in the Red Zone—there just weren’t many yards available. McFadden also ran for 4 touchdowns in that game. 61 yards, 4 touchdowns; those are the kind of numbers that people are hailing as amazing from Tebow.

Against Mississippi State, McFadden ran for just 88 yards. The fact that he had a 57-yard touchdown reception (on a 5-yard pass) and also threw for a touchdown are generally forgotten about.

So while it’s true that McFadden had three games this season where he didn’t rush for 100+ yards, only one of them was actually a bad game. And having good games in 11 out of 12 isn’t inconsistent.

“Tebow has better numbers.”

Much has been made of the fact that Tebow became the first player in NCAA history this season to throw and run for 20+ touchdowns in the same season. A lot of people want to stop the argument right there: Tebow ran for more touchdowns than McFadden and threw 29 more, how can he not be the better player?

Well, if an 80-yard touchdown run and a 5-yard touchdown run are equally impressive, then maybe they have a point. But they’re not. And they don’t.

The vast majority of Tebow’s touchdowns came on short runs and short passes. Tebow broke runs of 20+ yards in four games. McFadden accomplished that feat in 10 games.

And while we’re at it, if we’re going to use statistics to reach bogus conclusions, let’s look at QB ratings: McFadden’s is 268.5 while Tebow’s is 177.8. Does that prove that McFadden is the better QB?

The “better numbers” argument is a bogus one.

“It shouldn’t matter what class the winner belongs to.”

The thinking here is that the Heisman Award should go to the best player in the country, regardless of his age. For what it’s worth, I entirely agree.

The problem is that McFadden was the best player in the country last season, but didn’t win the Heisman in large part due to the fact that he was just a sophomore, while winner Troy Smith was a senior.

My point is this: if McFadden was penalized last year for being a sophomore, Tebow should be penalized this year for being one. It just isn’t fair otherwise.

Tim Tebow will likely win the Heisman tonight, no matter what I say. But he still won’t be the best player in the country.


Jethro 12/9/07, 9:35 PM  

Luke, sorry D-Mac didn't win. I think that you forgot the major reason why people did not vote for him, though. I did not read anything in you post about the ugliness of his car. How could you leave that out???

Kenny Simpson 12/10/07, 8:44 AM  

To me the Heisman goes to the most Valuable player, not best player. If it did Mcfadden would have won the past two seasons. Tebow was more valuable than Mcfadden. Take him off Florida and they are a .500 team, take Mcfadden off Arkansas and Jones and company keep them close to same record. Plus 20 Td's rushing (more than Mcfadden) and 29 passing...

All that being said, I still want Miami to draft Mcfadden with the #1 pick in the draft.

Luke Dockery 12/11/07, 10:40 AM  


I didn't know that the car you drive was part of the criteria. Now that I do, I agree that he had no business winning.

Luke Dockery 12/11/07, 10:46 AM  


Technically, the Heisman goes to the most "outstanding" player in college football. To me, that seems more like "best" than "valuable", but I guess you could argue either side.

I disagree with you about McFadden's value though. Without him, there's no way the Hogs beat LSU or South Carolina. It's the attention on McFadden that allows Jones and Hillis to be as good as they are (they're both very good, but McFadden's presence makes them better).

I agree with you though that Tebow had a great season and was very important to Florida. I thought the Heisman race was Tebow vs. McFadden and then everyone else.

I just thought McFadden deserved it more, and that Tebow benefited from ESPN's coverage.

Luke Dockery 12/11/07, 10:48 AM  

p.s. Tebow's many touchdowns are impressive, but I already mentioned in the blog how deceptive it is to say that Tebow had more rushing TDs than McFadden so that somehow proves that he is better (compare their QB ratings).

Edward Carson 12/13/07, 7:23 PM  

Not to take anything from Teabow, who is a great player, but how many of the 20 TDs were in from within 5 yards?

Will 12/14/07, 10:15 AM  

I want a blog about the new head coach.

Andy Shupe 12/14/07, 8:55 PM  

I think I like the idea of giving it to the guy with the best car.

Kenny Simpson 12/15/07, 7:22 PM  

Many of Tebows runs were from 10yards and in, but how many of Mcfaddens TD's were also under 10 yard rushes?

Luke Dockery 12/16/07, 2:10 PM  


A lot of them were. He's a great player, and the 22 rushing TDs is impressive, but it's not quite as impressive as it sounds at first.

Luke Dockery 12/16/07, 2:11 PM  


Maybe I'll get to it. I've kinda gotten behind on some things over the last few days.

In short, I think it's a good hire, even if it's only for 2 years.

Luke Dockery 12/16/07, 2:14 PM  


Welcome to the blog!

I guess giving it to the guy with the "best" car would be no less subjective than it seems to be now.

Would it be a Miata driver every year?

Luke Dockery 12/16/07, 2:21 PM  


Certainly McFadden had a lot of short runs as well, but as I pointed out in the post, he had many more long runs than Tebow, which is more relevant to who is the better runner than how many TDs they have.

Tebow was far and away the main option for Florida once they got into First and Goal situations. For Arkansas, McFadden was sharing the chances with Felix, Hillis, and Casey Dick (within 10 yards is about the only chance Arkansas had at a passing game).

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