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Football: Michael Robinson

Posted: Monday December 19, 2005 11:29AM; Updated: Monday December 19, 2005 1:36PM
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By Matthew Waxman

Dear Heisman Trophy Trust,

Football: Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson helped the Nittany Lionse scoring increased from 13 points per game in 2004 to 35 points per game in 2005.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Pardon our French, but what the #@%!& were you guys thinking? Was the committee in charge of inviting candidates short on folding chairs? Would one more catered dinner have sent the chef into a tizzy? In short, can you explain how Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson didn't get an invite this year to the Heisman ceremony?

We're not saying Robinson had to win your gilded trophy. Each member of the troika of Reggie Bush, Vince Young and Matt Leinart was a worthy candidate; you could have made a case for any of them until Bush ran into the Pac-10 record books with his 513 all-purpose yards against Fresno State. And though Robinson may not have been atop the leaderboard in SportsCenter replays or gossip column blind items, when it comes to anointing "the best college football player in the United States" -- as the Heisman supposedly does -- you have to at least find a place in the debate for Michael Robinson.

No one in the college football landscape was more responsible for his team's fortunes than the Nittany Lions' QB -- mind you, in his first year as the starter. Robinson not only created his own legacy by almost single handedly turning around the program, he strapped the defibrillator paddles onto his maligned coach and saved the old man's legacy as well. Because of these accomplishments, SI On Campus didn't just nominate Robinson, we chose him as the recipient of our second annual football U Award.

"There were many worthy candidates" is usually teleprompter-speak, but not in this case. This year's Heisman winner, Bush made defenses look like 11 Wile E. Coyotes -- beep beep, -- Leinart made the two plays of the year within two minutes of each other -- "bleep bleep" went ND fans -- after having made the decision of the year to give the Heisman stiff-arm to the San Francisco 49ers' $50 million and return to campus. Vince Young, like a nasty kick-boxer, beat teams with his arm and legs in leading Texas to the national championship game. However, without their Heisman candidates, USC and Texas are still in the BCS picture. Without Robinson, Penn State might still be unranked, as they were in preseason, instead of No. 3.

In 2004, Penn State went 4-7 (2-6) and averaged a paltry 12.8 ppg. With Robinson shifting from wideout/punt returner/tailback to quarterback, the 2005 Nittany Lions went 10-1 (7-1), averaged 35.2 ppg, almost three times as many as the previous year, and were an Ann Arbor slant pass from giving the BCS a major headache. Don't kid yourself into thinking that an extra candle on his cake made JoePa that much wiser. In his only season on the job, M-Rob bested Kerry Collins' school record of total offense in a season with 2,882.

"If someone is better than he is, he's got to be awfully good," said Paterno of Robinson. "I think Michael Robinson has been one of the best football players we have had at Penn State in the [56] years I have been here."

"Thank you, thank you very much," said the soft-spoken Robinson upon learning of his U Award.

Speech! Speech! Speech!

"They laughed at us, literally," said Robinson to SIOC, moments before PSU's Bowl bid was announced. "During preseason, Coach Paterno got up to talk at the Big 10 Conference to say we were going to be competitive -- we were picked to finish fifth or sixth -- and they laughed at him," said Robinson, without a trace of anger in his voice. "Other teams' guys were saying 'he's so old,' and 'I can't understand what he's saying.' My teammates and I sat at the table watching. We held our tongues and took it. But it was nice to come out and prove everybody wrong."

Well, apparently not everybody. The 923 members of the Heisman committee were not swayed by the fifth-year senior, who strapped Mount Nittany on his back, leading PSU to its biggest single season turnaround in the 119-year history, and carrying it to the BCS Promised Land. "I'm not sure he's getting quite the credit he deserves," said Paterno during an ABC teleconference, "but that's because there's a handful of guys out there who have better stats and a better background. All I know is that Michael Robinson is not one of the finalists for the Heisman Award. Whose fault is that? Is that my fault? Or is that your fault?"

We won't play the blame game anymore. Let's just say, Michael Robinson, congratulations on your U Award and one helluva season.


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