Why are Luck's Heisman chances dwindling?


Why are Luck's Heisman chances dwindling?

The votes are in, the predictions are stacking up and it doesnt look good for the one-time front-runner

Andrew Luck, the presumed winner of the Heisman just a few months ago, is trailing in the recent polls. Well be talking about it tonight on the Chronicle Live Blitz.

Right now, based on voter projections, it doesnt look great for Luck. Unless voters decided to take a look at the big picture. At what the Heisman is really supposed to be about.

We know out here that if Luck doesnt win the Heisman it would be a ridiculous turn of events. Lucks body of work is more impressive than his competitions. In two seasons, hes led his team to a 23-2 record. More than any other single factor, hes responsible for Stanfords ascent into college footballs elite.

RELATED: Heisman Watch -- R ... G ... 3

Yet he may be eclipsed by Robert Griffin III of Baylor or Trent Richardson of Alabama. Fine players. Nice seasons. Not particularly transcendent, not in the way Luck has been.

So what can we do about it? Nothing, short of hoping the next major earthquake shoves our little tectonic mass closer to the Eastern Time zone.

Because as much as you want to blame David Shaw for not allowing Luck to run up 78 points against Notre Dame, or for not going all vertical all the time, the real reason Luck will lose the Heisman is simply invisibility. The voters east of the Mississippi (or even east of the Great Salt Lake) rarely saw Luck.

The saw him last January when he beat Virginia Tech -- ancient history to voters. And they saw him when he lost to Oregon -- Luck didnt have a horrible game but it certainly wasnt one of his best. Voters who hadnt seen much of him probably shrugged and said, Thats it? Voters who have a steady diet of SEC games dont pay attention to football out in foreign territory unless the name Trojans is attached to it.

So is there any chance that Luck wins the Heisman?
RELATED: Luck one of five Heisman finalists

Actually, I think there is. Whenever deciding to bestow an important award, voters usually have one piece of information that pushes one candidate over the top. Sure, it could be something obvious like yards gained or passer rating.

Or, it could be -- lets hope it is -- the actual description of the award. The Heisman recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.

If voters actually pay attention to what theyre voting for, then Luck should win the Heisman. He turned down millions -- knowing it was money he could never get back because of the changing structure of the NFL -- to come back to Stanford for another year. He carries a strong GPA in a difficult major. Hes humble and geeky and a team-first guy and -- to our knowledge -- has never stolen a computer or had his father try to sell him to the highest bidder. He exemplifies integrity.

Luck represents what the Heisman is all about. Of course, thats not the way it usually works in the world of voting.

But in this season of filth - when college football is so degraded, so slimy, so horrifying that we couldnt even make it up -- maybe voters will consider the bigger picture. Maybe in the wake of Ohio State tattoos and Miami prostitutes and -- most of all -- the horror chamber that was Penn State football (Jerry Sandusky was arrested on more charges on Wednesday morning) voters will have taken a longer look. Will want to bestow college footballs highest award on a kid who worked his tail off for three years, did his best, and illustrated what college football should and could still be about.

If Luck doesnt win, we know hell be fine.

And if Luck doesnt win, we know college football wont be fine. It will be just one more embarrassment in a game full of them.

Freelance writer Ann Killion is a regular contributor to and Chronicle Live.

Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe


Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe

Men's basketball teams from Oregon State, Clemson and Arizona were staying at a hotel in Barcelona, Spain, near where a van drove into pedestrians on Thursday, but team officials said everyone was safe.

Spanish police have confirmed they are investigating the bloodshed in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district as a terror attack. The area is a popular summer tourist spot.

Tulane also was playing in Barcelona, but it was unclear if they were staying in the same hotel as the other teams.

Oregon State assistant coach Gregg Gottlieb posted to Facebook: "We are all luckily ok. Our hotel/restaurant is located right on Las Ramblas. This tragedy happened right in front of us as our team just sat down for pregame meal. Thoughts and prayers for all those that are were hurt."

The Beavers' game Thursday night was canceled. It was supposed to be the first of a five-game tour.

Clemson was scheduled to play Thursday night against a Spanish All-Star team.

"We've been in contact with our men's basketball program currently in Barcelona and the entire travel party is safe and secure. Their exhibition game for tonight has been cancelled and the team will return to Clemson as previously scheduled tomorrow morning. Our thoughts are with the people of Barcelona," the South Carolina school said in a statement.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that the three teams were staying in the same hotel.

"We are fine. Thankful to be safe and together," Brownell wrote.

Tulane athletic director Troy Tannen confirmed via social media that the Green Wave players and staff were safe.

Replying to a Twitter inquiry from a Portland television about whether the team was OK, Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle responded: "Yes we are, happened directly in front of our hotel while we were having a team meal in the restaurant, so senseless and sad! All accounted4."

Oregon State said it has not yet determined the remaining schedule for the team, which was supposed to be on the exhibition tour until Aug. 25.

A spokesman for Arizona said the Wildcats have canceled their third and final exhibition of their tour and "are currently working on travel plans to return home."

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof


The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

Your education dollars are always at work, so it is with pride and bewilderment that we report that the University of California’s incoming class (2021, for those few who can get out in four years) marched to Memorial Stadium and formed the world’s largest human letter.
It was . . . wait for it . . . a “C.” A 7,196-person-strong “C.”
But the school, as it occasionally does, missed a golden opportunity to seize a golden opportunity. All they needed to do was have a quick whip-round, get $55,586.44 from each and every one of the captives . . . er, students, and they could have wiped out their entire athletics deficit in one night.
You see, while forming gigantic letters is always fun (or as the kids used to say when double negatives didn’t mean voting, never not fun), Cal is staring at quite possibly the bleakest future a major athletic university ever has. The athletic department, whose chief officer, Mike Williams, has just announced his intention to quit, is over $400 million in debt between construction costs, ambition, shrinking allegiance and the absence of a Phil Knight-level sugar daddy to buy the pain away.
And before you blame Williams, he inherited this indigestible planetoid from his predecessor, Sandy Barbour, who grew it from her predecessor, Steve Gladstone, and hastened it from . . . well, you get the drift. 
Cal’s been blowing through money it hasn’t been taking in for years upon years, didn’t realize the deficit-cutting benefits of the Pac-12 Network (because they largely don’t exist), and the day of reckoning looms closer and closer, especially now that new chancellor Carol Christ (no apparent relation) described the deficit as “corrosive” and has insisted that the athletic department have a balanced budget by 2020.
In short, the school may only be able to afford a lower-case “C” before too long. Maybe in comic sans.