- David Ubben, College Football
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Saturday night, the best and most hallowed individual award in all of sport will be handed out for the 77th time.
The award, as anyone who has won it can attest, is anything but a handout. It's earned.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III has earned it, and none of the five finalists deserves it more than he does. There's no definite criteria for the award that means different things to different people.
Most outstanding player?
Most valuable player?
Griffin is all of these things, and the odds-on, heavy favorite to win the award on Saturday night since voters began revealing their ballots after voting closed on Monday.
Only Houston's Case Keenum accounted for more total offense than Griffin. Griffin, though, plays in arguably college football's best conference and broke the NCAA record for passing efficiency this season.
You read that Griffin "broke the passing efficiency record" and it sounds simple and rolls off the tongue. But really think about that: There are 120 FBS teams that suit up every year. That number's fluctuated, but college football's been going on for a long, long time.
Nobody's been more productive relative to total throws in the history of the game.
Throw in Griffin's 644 yards rushing and nine touchdowns and you get a player unlike anything we've seen in a long time.
He's the game's most exciting player, too.
Need a Heisman moment? Take your pick from a season full of them. Griffin's highlight reel is miles long. If you don't want to use four of his touchdown passes longer than 28 yards in the season opener against TCU, how about his only reception of the season, which came against the Horned Frogs?
He split the middle of the defense and caught a pass from Kendall Wright before getting crunched between two defenders and getting the wind knocked out of him, rendering him unable to speak. He stayed in the game.
Trailing 24-3 in the fourth quarter to 2-10 Kansas is no Heisman moment, but rallying his team back with a furious rally with a 49-yard run, 36-yard pass and 64-yard pass to tie the game before throwing another score in overtime to win it? That counts.
And what about the coup de grce, his real Heisman moment against Oklahoma? He bought time with his legs and flung a 39-yard score with eight seconds left to beat Oklahoma, which illustrates a final, and perhaps the biggest reason why Griffin should win.
The Big 12 began play in 1996. Baylor famously hadn't been to a bowl game since.
The Bears experienced it just like Oklahoma did last month: RG3 happened.
Last year's trip to a bowl game was only the beginning. This year, the Bears won six Big 12 games and finished third in the conference.
How'd they do it? The perception that Baylor is a one-man team is inaccurate. Kendall Wright led the Big 12 in receiving yards and running back Terrance Ganaway took home the Big 12 rushing title.
Coach Art Briles has surrounded his star with plenty of tools to help make him great.
But no man is more important to his team than Griffin for reasons that don't show up to the casual observer. Griffin is supremely confident in himself and his teammates, a confidence that can come off brash, cocky or rude to those on the outside.
The truth: To those on the inside, it's invaluable. It bleeds into his teammates and makes them better. It endears a player that attracts media attention by the bucketload to the rest of his team, which doesn't get quite enough.
It's made Baylor a different place.
A better place.
The results tell plenty of the story.
A lot of guys can throw a football or run it faster than everyone else. Not many can change an entire program.
Griffin's done it. Bringing Baylor a Heisman Trophy, another famous first in school history, is just the next step.
Saturday night, the best and most hallowed individual award in all of sport will be handed out for the 77th time.The award, as anyone who has won it can attest, is anything but a handout.