NEW YORK — Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin.
It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Baylor’s gifted quarterback better get used to it because that prefix is going to be attached to his name the rest of his life. Kind of like .400 hitter Ted Williams or Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady.
The best thing about it is that Griffin deserved it.
I’ve been a Heisman Trophy voter since 1984, and many years I agonized over my decision for weeks before making my pick. Sometimes, even then I wondered if I got it right.
But when I sent in my Heisman ballot last Sunday, I knew I made the right choice. Alabama running back Trent Richardson and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck were my next two choices in that order, but Griffin won it on the field with his brilliant leadership and dazzling performances.
And he did it the hard way.
During the last decade, the Heisman Trophy has usually been awarded to the best player on a premier team. Since 2003, every Heisman winner had played for a team
that reached the BCS championship game except Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in 2007.
Tebow’s season was just too big for voters to ignore as he passed for 32 touchdowns and ran for 23 for a Gators squad that finished 9-4.
Likewise, Griffin’s season was also too phenomenal for voters to overlook. A major part of his appeal was that he guided the Bears to a 9-3 regular-season finish, their best in 25 years.
Florida captured the national championship the year before Tebow won the Heisman, so he continued to fuel a program that had been a major player on the national scene for a long time. Griffin lifted a program that had been an habitual doormat in the Big 12, and hadn’t reached a bowl in 16 years before making the Texas Bowl last season.
Griffin was the best quarterback in the country. He finished first in passing efficiency by completing 72.4 percent of his passes for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns. He’s also a major threat as a runner with 644 yards and nine touchdowns.
Numbers are important in the Heisman voting, but the winner needs that “it” factor. He needs to sparkle and make enough great plays throughout the season to catch the voters’ attention. He needs to own the clutch gene, possessing the ability to make the big play at the key moment.
Griffin proved he had all those qualities over and over.
His Heisman moment came against Oklahoma on Nov. 19 when he rolled to his left and threw a bullet back across the field to Terrance Williams for a 34-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining to lift the Bears to a 45-38 win.
Oklahoma win stands out
It was Baylor’s first win ever over the then-No. 5 Sooners after 20 losses.
That play was repeated over and over on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” that weekend, and the voters watched. Seemingly a secondary player in the Heisman race, Griffin suddenly surged to the forefront.
After Griffin sustained a concussion and missed the second half of Baylor’s 66-42 win over Texas Tech, it appeared he’d slipped behind Richardson and Luck in the Heisman race.
They both delivered superb performances that weekend, but Griffin still had an ace up his sleeve.
Both Richardson and Luck finished their seasons on Nov. 26, but Griffin still had a game to play against Texas last weekend. Once again, he was brilliant as he passed for 320 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more scores in the Bears’ 48-24 thrashing of the Longhorns.
Griffin caught fire at just the right time. Many of the voters waited until the final weekend to cast their ballots, and Griffin had the hottest hand.
On Saturday night, he walked away with the biggest individual award in college sports.
That’s Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin.
Better get used to that prefix.