Heisman Worthiness Index says Sooners' Peterson is the winner
Posted: Sunday December 5, 2004 8:09PM; Updated: Sunday December 5, 2004 9:15PM
Freshman running back Adrian Peterson ran for 100 or more yards in 11 of Oklahoma's 12 wins.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
If there's one thing I've learned from covering college football in the BCS era, it's this: When faced with a tough decision, turn to a complicated mathematical formula for the answer.
The regular season ended with five undefeated teams, and from that messy surplus of excellence, our beloved BCS standings gave us a neat and tidy No. 1 (USC) and No. 2 (Oklahoma) for the title game. How perfect.
The Heisman race finds itself in a far more chaotic state at season's end. There are seven worthy candidates and I can't declare a leader. So how does one decide between Cal's J.J. Arrington, Texas' Cedric Benson, Utah's Alex Smith, USC's Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, and Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson and Jason White?
A formula. You guessed it.
Herewith, my mathematical concoction: The Heisman Worthiness Index. (What, you wanted the Gino Torretta Matrix?) Since all seven players had stellar seasons, this formula attempts to separate them by placing value on two things -- how many games in which each candidate was clearly "The Man" (by meeting certain statistical standards), and "How Big" those games were (according to the BCS rank of the opponent). To qualify, a player must have been "The Man" at least three times; it's hard to justify a Heisman votes if you weren't exceptional in at least 25 percent of your games. The total of those special performances is then divided by the average BCS rank of the opponents from those games, yielding the all-important HWI figure.
Comparing candidates' HWIs is preferable to, say, comparing only their season statistics, because the Heisman is not merely about statistics. If it were, then the names on this list would be North Texas' Jamario Thomas, the I-A rushing leader, Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe, the top all-purpose back, and Texas Tech's Sonny Cumbie, the No. 1 passer. The Heisman is about having an excellent all-around season AND, more importantly, having a handful of monster games on big stages in which you were "The Man."
This is how we quanitfy "The Man"-type performances for our seven-candidate pool:
For pocket QBs (Leinart, White): At least four TD passes OR 400 yards passing. For dual-threat QBs (Smith): At least 200 yards passing AND 4 combined passing/rushing TDs For traditional RBs (Arrington, Benson, Peterson): At least 200 rushing yards OR 3 TDs For all-purpose backs (Bush): At least 200 all-purpose yards AND 2 TDs
Here's how it computes:
Heisman Worthiness Index
No. of Big Games divided by Average BCS rank of the opponents (Using projected BCS rankings from collegebcs.com)
'The Man' Games
Opponents (BCS rankings)
Texas (4), Oklahoma St. (24), Baylor (77), Colorado (35)
Air Force (75), NMSU (78), UCLA (47), So. Miss (55)
Kansas St. (71), Kansas (64), Texas A&M (20)
Did Not Qualify (too few 'The Man' games)
Notre Dame (44), Arizona State (19)
Oklahoma St. (24)
The final rankings need no further explanation. If math can decide our title game, it can decide our most prestigious trophy, too. Your Heisman winner -- the first frosh ever to take home the trophy -- should be none other than Adrian Peterson. With four big games and three of them against top-35 BCS teams, he beats out Smith and Bush by a sizable margin.
1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma, Fr.
Last week (vs. Colorado): 28 carries, 172 yards, 3 TDs in 42-3 win Season (12-0): 314 carries, 1,843 yards (153.6 yards per game), 15 TDs