Luck, best player in college football, won't win Heisman


Luck, best player in college football, won't win Heisman

Soon well all know. By this time Andrew Luck and five of his peers are on their way to New York where on Saturday they will be trotted out by the New York Athletic Club to a front row seat where one will be chosen and four will have no choice but to applaud and smile sheepishly while sticking pins in a voodoo doll they have cleverly hidden in their pants pocket.The Heisman Trophy has, for the past several years, been something of a regional popularity contest that seems to strictly adhere to the What have you done for me lately attitude that pervades the sports landscape these days.In fact, if recent history holds true, its not a good thing to be the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy before a ball has been kicked in anger.

Such is the plight of our own local hero Andrew Luck. At the start of the season, the Stanford quarterback was considered odds-on (as they say in horse racing) to win the coveted trophy emblematic of the best player in college football. And, let there be no doubt -- Andrew Luck is the best player in college football this year. A fact to which the upcoming NFL player draft will attest.But, therein lies the rub. Is it really about the best player in college football, or is it the player with the most dazzling numbers who just happened to have had a big game on the last Saturday before the Heisman votes are due in? Or -- in the interest of complicating things even more -- is it the player who plays for a higher-ranked team whos had twice the national television exposure as anyone else? Or is it body of work over the course of a career? Or nicest smile? Or most congenial?As a longtime voter in the Heisman derby I can tell you that Ive made votes that I have later regretted, although they were done with cause at the time. Its just that there is no definitive right way to vote. So, before all the letters written in crayon by the lunatic fringe telling me what an idiot I am for making the selection I did, I will tell you that, yes, I did vote for Andrew Luck. I will also tell you I am sworn not to discuss my vote. So much for morality.Now, the more important question is, do I think Andrew Luck will win? That would depend on what time of day you ask me and whos asking. If I were being asked by the Stanford Tree for instance I would say, Absolutely, dont you worry your little limbs about it. If, however, I were to be asked by someone not wearing pants made of bark and sporting a goofy smile attached to a green felt leaf, I would have to say, No.I think that Robert Griffin III will win the trophy and quite honestly I think hes the second-best candidate out there. The difference between RG3 and Luck is that Griffin played this past Saturday while Luck had no choice but to sit home and watch Seinfeld re-runs. And, to make matters worse, Griffin not only played -- he lit it up against a good opponent, on national television.I think that Robert Griffin III will have an excellent career at the next level. I think hes a worthy candidate for the Heisman Trophy too, and I know in terms of character hes right up there with well, with Andrew Luck.What he isnt, is the best player in college football this year. That guy will be the guy in the front row with the voodoo doll in his pants pocket who just happened not to be playing on the weekend before the votes were counted.

College football roundup: Numbers tell it all at halfway mark


College football roundup: Numbers tell it all at halfway mark

Football is a game of numbers. Halfway through the 2016 season, there are some pretty startling and interesting numbers at play in college football.

Number of non-offensive touchdowns scored by No. 1 ranked Alabama so far this season. If you’re facing the Nick Saban-led juggernaut, your challenge is to keep both the Tide’s offense and defense out of the end zone. 

Number of teams in the Associated Press preseason top 13 that have lost at least two games already: No. 3 Oklahoma (2 losses), No. 4 Florida State (2), No. 5 LSU (2), No. 8 Stanford (2), No. 9 Tennessee (2), No. 10 Notre Dame (5), No. 11 Ole Miss (3), No. 12 Michigan State (4), and No. 13 TCU (2). So much for the accuracy of preseason polls.

Number of folks on the college playoff selection committee who are hoping that undefeated Baylor loses a few games. That’s the entire committee. No one in college football wants to see Baylor participating in the playoffs after the sexual assault epidemic that was revealed during the off-season. 

Retirement age of Utah’s Joe Williams. The senior running back retired from football after the second game of the season due to injuries. Fortunately for the Utes, Williams “un-retired” this week and returned to the team in time to rush for 179 yards in a win over Oregon State.

Length of a potential game-winning field goal by North Carolina State kicker Kyle Bambard at the end of regulation against No. 3 Clemson on Saturday. The kick, which missed wide right by a couple of feet, would’ve given the unranked Wolfpack a 20-17 win over the unbeaten Tigers. Instead, Clemson won 24-17 in overtime. The 33-yarder was one of three missed field goals by Bambard.

Number of field goals usually-reliable Stanford kicker Conrad Ukropina has clanked off the left goal post upright in the past two weeks. Hitting the same upright three straight times would be hard to do from point blank range. Ukropina has done it from 49, 44 and 45 yards.

Washington quarterback Jake Browning’s astronomical pass efficiency rating through six games. That number would easily break the all-time NCAA record of 191.78 set by Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson (yes, that Russell Wilson) in 2011. 

Number of surprise co-leaders in the Pac-12 Conference. As noted last week, Washington and Washington State have emerged as the best teams in the Pac-12 North and lead the division with 3-0 records in conference play. The balance of power has also shifted in the South, a division traditionally dominated by the LA or Arizona schools. The co-leaders after seven weeks are Utah and Colorado, both at 3-1 in league action. Former San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre has done a fabulous job in Boulder. His Buffaloes take on Stanford in Palo Alto this weekend in a critical matchup for both teams.

Stanford’s highest scoring total in a game so far this year. The Cardinal beat USC 27-9 back on Sept. 17. Last year Stanford averaged just under 38 points per game. Inconsistent offensive line and quarterback play have been the culprits.

Number of points Michigan rolled up against Rutgers last week. After a bye week, the Wolverines figure to hit the half-century mark in their homecoming game vs. Illinois this Saturday. Coach Jim Harbaugh spent his off weekend scouting recruits and checked out Antioch High School star Najee Harris on Friday night.

Realistic candidates for the Heisman Trophy at the halfway point of the season. In order, my Heisman list looks like this: 1. Lamar Jackson, Louisville QB; 2. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State QB; 3. Jake Browning, Washington QB; 4. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan DB/LB/RB/ WR/KR; 5. Deshaun Watson, Clemson QB. 

Jackson appeared a little more mortal this week against Duke, throwing for “only” 181 yards and rushing for 144, but he is still the clear favorite with 30 touchdowns (15 each passing and running) in six games. Barrett led Ohio State to a thrilling win over No. 8 Wisconsin in overtime, while Browning and Peppers had byes. Some experts have downgraded Watson because Clemson has struggled against a few unranked opponents, but Watson has been stellar. Saturday he completed 39 of 52 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns; he also rushed for a score. 

San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey ran for over 200 yards again Saturday against Fresno State and is on track to rush for over 2,000 yards this year, but his level of competition in the Mt. West Conference will prevent him from grabbing the trophy.

New AP Top 25: 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Michigan, 4. Clemson, 5. Washington, 6. Texas A&M, 7. Louisville, 8. Nebraska, 9. Baylor, 10. Wisconsin, 11. Houston, 12. West Virginia, 13. Florida State, 14. Boise State, 15. Florida, 16. Oklahoma, 17. Arkansas, 18. Tennessee, 19. Utah, 20. Western Michigan, 21. Auburn, 22, North Carolina, 23. Ole Miss, 24. Navy, 25. LSU. Still only two teams in the top 25 from the Pac-12, compared with eight from the SEC, but the Big Ten is the strongest conference so far this year with four teams in the top 10.

Gary Cavalli is a 40-year veteran of the Bay Area sports scene and was Executive Director of the Foster Farms Bowl and Sports Information Director/Associate Athletic Director at Stanford

Ex-Stanford star suffers facial fracture during Knicks practice


Ex-Stanford star suffers facial fracture during Knicks practice

After spending a year overseas, Chasson Randle is back home trying to make the Knicks' roster.

But his effort took a serious hit during practice on Friday.

Following an incident Friday, the team disagnosed the former Stanford star with a facial contusion.

But the news was far grimmer on Sunday. A CT scan confirmed a left orbital fracture, the team announced. Randle will be re-evaluated Monday.

Randle signed with the Knicks on August 4 after spending last season with CEZ Nymburk in the Czech Republic.

The 23-year-old appeared in three games for New York's entry in the Orlando summer league, averaging 18.3 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 29.7 minutes.

At Stanford, Randle scored a school-record 2,375 points, averaging 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He was the most valuable player in the 2015 National Invitation Tournament after leading the Cardinal to the championship at Madison Square Garden.

During his senior season in Palo Alto, Randle was named All-Pac-12 First Team and was an AP Honorable Mention All-America.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.