By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
That's what the man said. Robert Griffin III became The Man Saturday night when he won the Heisman Trophy. That's correct. A quarterback from Baylor University won the most prestigious and iconic individual trophy in college sports.
Unbelievably believable. Griffin became the third Heisman winner since 1998 to play for a team with three or more losses. Tim Tebow (2007) and Ricky Williams (1998) won the stiff-arming trophy at Florida and Texas - two schools with a national profile that far surpasses Baylor.
John Morris, a 1980 Baylor graduate and "the voice of the Bears" summed up Griffin's Heisman moment this way: "It's the biggest event in Baylor athletics history."
Unbelievably believable. And refreshingly fitting. The last year has contained a litany of sordid stories in college sports. The bad news has spread.
The NBA just ended a divisive labor dispute, the National League MVP faces a possible 50-game suspension because he supposedly failed a test for performance-enhancing drugs and Saturday's college basketball action featured a nasty end-of-game brawl between Xavier and Cincinnati.
So RG3 making the unbelievable believable provided one of those positive, feel-good stories that makes following sports worthwhile.
"All along I've said it's not an individual award. It's about Baylor Nation," said Griffin, who became the fifth Big 12 player to win the Heisman. "We'll bring home this award and hopefully it will inspire people to chase their dreams. I achieved mine, and I couldn't have done it without the people around me.
"It's monumental, to have the first Heisman Trophy in Waco, Texas, where things haven't been good for a very long time. What we've done over the past couple years has been groundbreaking for Baylor University and the city of Waco."
Just over a month ago, it wasn't possible to place a bet on Griffin winning the Heisman. This week, Las Vegas had him as the odds-on favorite to win. The Bears finished the season on a five-game winning streak and RG3 had headline-worthy performances in Baylor's first-ever victory over Oklahoma and then it beat Texas in consecutive seasons for the first time in nearly two decades.
Griffin collected 405 of a possible 846 first-place votes and 1,687 total points to finish first in the balloting. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck - who finished second in the voting last year and returned this season as the favorite to win - had 247 first-place votes and 1,407 to finish second again.
While Luck was the preseason Heisman favorite, Griffin quickly established his credentials. On the Friday of the opening weekend, he led Baylor a 50-48 upset of TCU, the defending Rose Bowl champions. RG3 completed 21-of-27 for 359 yards and five touchdowns.
After that thrilling victory, Griffin was free to make the 90-mile drive to Arlington, Texas the next morning. ESPN's College GameDay was at Cowboys Stadium for the Oregon-LSU game; the nation got a glimpse of Griffin the person.
"After we beat TCU and he goes and gets on College GameDay, and people saw what kind of person he was, beside the player, I knew his stock would skyrocket," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "What everybody saw is what we'd known for four years.
"This outcome, in our minds, wasn't by chance - it was by design. Robert has been preparing himself to be the best he can be for four years at Baylor. This award is the result of Robert's dedication and discipline and the support of our team and football program. This is the exclamation point on the direction of Baylor football and Baylor University."
Baylor's women's basketball team is undefeated ranked No. 1 and the men's basketball team is undefeated and ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press rankings - the highest it has ever been ranked. Add in a Heisman Trophy winner and a school whose conference future was in doubt each of the last two years can match accomplishments with any of the nation's heavyweights.
"To Baylor nation, I say this is a forever moment, may we be blessed enough to have more of these in the future," said Griffin, who Thursday night won the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award. "It's not just me. Baylor is also forever in this fraternity as well. Hopefully we'll have more in the future.
"They might say it can't happen at Baylor. But that's why it's college football and that's why we play every Saturday."
From Griffin's acceptance speech: "It's unbelievable because in the moment, we're all amazed when great things happen. But it's believable because great things don't happen without hard work. ... as we say on the team, the hotter the heat, the harder the steel; no pressure, no diamonds ... we compete, we win, we are Baylor."
2011 HEISMAN TROPHY VOTING
|Player, School||Points||1st-Place Votes|
|Robert Griffin III, Baylor||1,687||405|
|Andrew Luck, Stanford||1,407||247|
|Trent Richardson, Alabama||978||138|
|Montee Ball, Wisconsin||348||22|
|Tyrann Mathieu, LSU||327||34|
♦ Since the Big 12’s inception in 1996, the Conference has had a Heisman finalist (top four in the final voting) 11 out of 16 seasons.
♦ Since 1996, the Big 12 has had five Heisman Trophy winners. The Southeastern Conference is next with four winners.
♦ A compilation of Heisman voting since 1996 (based on the top four finishers assigning four points for 1st, three for second, etc.), the Big 12 has had the most Heisman success with 45 points. The SEC is second with 35 and the Pacific-12 is third with 32.
♦ During the BCS Era (which started in 1998) Griffin will be the third Heisman winner who won’t play in the BCS bowl game. The others: Ricky Williams of Texas in 1998 (Cotton Bowl) and Tim Tebow of Florida in 2007 (Outback Bowl). Baylor will play Washington in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29.
♦ Griffin, who is from Copperas Cove, Texas, is the first Heisman winner from the Lone Star state since BYU’s Ty Detmer, who is from San Marcos, Texas, won the award in 1990.
♦ Griffin is just the third Baylor player to appear in Heisman voting in the award’s 77-year history. Quarterback Larry Isbell finished seventh in 1951 while Don Trull was fourth in 1963. Like Griffin, both were quarterbacks.
♦ Prior to this season, Baylor had won 15 Big 12 games and had four winless seasons (including three in succession). The Bears had won a total of four games in the month of November over the previous 15 years; this year, they went 4-0 in the month.
♦ Pending the outcome of Baylor’s bowl game, Griffin is on pace to shatter the NCAA single-season record for passing efficiency. RG3 has an efficiency rating of 192.3. That bettered, by 6.3 points, the record of 186.0 set by Hawaii’s Colt Brennan in 2006. Brennan broke the record (by 2.7 points) of 183.3 set by Tulane’s Shaun King in 1998.
♦ Griffin graduated from high school early and enrolled at Baylor in the spring of 2008. Competing for the Bears’ track team, he earned All-American status in the 400-meter hurdles when he finished third at the NCAA Outdoor Championship. He won the Big 12 400-meters with the third-fastest time (49.22) in school history.
♦ Griffin is the son of Robert Sr.?and Jacqueline Griffin and was born Feb. 12, 1990,?in Japan. Robert Griffin Sr. is retired U.S. military. RG3 graduated No. 7 in senior class and graduated from Baylor in December 2010 with degree in political science. He has aspirations of attending law school.
HEISMAN TROPHY WINNERS
2011 – Robert Griffin III, Baylor, QB
2010 – Cam Newton, Auburn, QB
2009 – Mark Ingram, Alabama, RB
2008 – Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, QB
2007 – Tim Tebow, Florida, QB
2006 – Troy Smith, Ohio State, QB
2005 – Vacated
2004 – Matt Leinart, Southern Cal, QB
2003 – Jason White, Oklahoma, QB
2002 – Carson Palmer, Southern Cal, QB
2001 – Eric Crouch, Nebraska, QB
2000 – Chris Weinke, Florida St., QB
1999 – Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, RB
1998 – Ricky Williams, Texas, RB
1997 – Charles Woodson, Michigan, CB
1996 – Danny Wuerffel, Florida, QB
1995 – Eddie George, Ohio State, TB
1994 – Rashaan Salaam, Colorado, RB
1993 – Charlie Ward, Florida State, QB
1992 – Gino Torretta, Miami, QB
1991 – Desmond Howard, Michigan, WR
1990 – Ty Detmer, Brigham Young, QB
1989 – Andre Ware, Houston, QB
1988 – Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, RB
1987 – Tim Brown, Notre Dame, WR
1986 – Vinny Testaverde, Miami, QB
1985 – Bo Jackson, Auburn, TB
1984 – Doug Flutie, Boston College, QB
1983 – Mike Rozier, Nebraska, TB
1982 – Herschel Walker, Georgia, HB
1981 – Marcus Allen, Southern Cal, TB
1980 – George Rogers, South Carolina, HB
1979 – Charles White, Southern Cal, TB
1978 – Billy Sims, Oklahoma, HB
1977 – Earl Campbell, Texas, FB
1976 – Tony Dorsett, Pittsburgh, HB
1975 – Archie Griffin, Ohio State, HB
1974 – Archie Griffin, Ohio State, HB
1973 – John Cappelletti, Penn State, HB
1972 – Johnny Rodgers, Nebraska, FL
1971 – Pat Sullivan, Auburn, QB
1970 – Jim Plunkett, Stanford, QB
1969 – Steve Owens, Oklahoma, HB
1968 – O.J. Simpson, Southern Cal, TB
1967 – Gary Beban, UCLA, QB
1966 – Steve Spurrier, Florida, QB
1965 – Mike Garrett, Southern Cal, TB
1964 – John Huarte, Notre Dame, QB
1963 – Roger Staubach, Navy, QB
1962 – Terry Baker, Oregon State, QB
1961 – Ernie Davis, Syracuse, HB
1960 – Joe Bellino, Navy, HB
1959 – Billy Cannon, LSU, HB
1958 – Pete Dawkins, Army, HB
1957 – John David Crow, Texas A&M, HB
1956 – Paul Hornung, Notre Dame, QB
1955 – Howard Cassady, Ohio State, HB
1954 – Alan Ameche, Wisconsin, FB
1953 – John Lattner, Notre Dame, HB
1952 – Billy Vessels, Oklahoma, HB
1951 – Dick Kazmaier, Princeton, HB
1950 – Vic Janowicz, Ohio State, HB
1949 – Leon Hart, Notre Dame, E
1948 – Doak Walker, SMU, HB
1947 – John Lujack, Notre Dame, QB
1946 – Glenn Davis, Army, HB
1945 – Doc Blanchard, Army, HB
1944 – Les Horvath, Ohio State, QB
1943 – Angelo Bertelli, Notre Dame, QB
1942 – Frank Sinkwich, Georgia, HB
1941 – Bruce Smith, Minnesota, HB
1940 – Tom Harmon, Michigan, HB
1939 – Nile Kinnick, Iowa, HB
1938 – Davey O'Brien, Texas Christian, QB
1937 – Clint Frank, Yale, HB
1936 – Larry Kelley, Yale, E
1935 – Jay Berwanger, Chicago, HB