Florida quarterback Tim Tebow became the first player to score 20 rushing touchdowns and throw 20 touchdown passes.
The Watch's final ballot reads like so ...
1. Tim Tebow, Florida, QB, Soph.
Last Week: Idle
Season: 217-of-317 passing, 3,132 yards, 29 TDs, 6 INTs; 194 rushes, 838 yards, 22 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: He was a running and passing machine, essentially two players in one body, who did things no college player has ever done. Consider these statistics for a moment: Tebow passed for 3,132 yards, about the same as Texas' Colt McCoy (3,129), and 29 touchdowns, roughly the equivalent of Louisville's Brian Brohm (30). (Incidentally both McCoy and Brohm made the list in April.) Now consider Tebow also ran for 838 yards, more than Arizona State running back Keegan Herring (816), and 22 touchdowns, which is more than all but two players in the country, and you have your clear-cut No. 1 choice on this ballot.
Here are some more stats to absorb: In 2005 Texas quarterback Vince Young, who finished second in the Heisman voting, was responsible for 98.5 percent of the Longhorns' passing yards and 29.4 percent of the team's rushing yards. Last season's Heisman winner and dual-threat quarterback Troy Smith accounted for 91.1 percent of Ohio State's passing yards and 9.2 percent of its rushing yards. This season Tebow outdid them both, throwing for 98.7 percent of the Gators' passing yards and running for 35.3 percent of their rushing yards.
Stats alone don't explain why he's the pick here. He was excellent all season. He was the Gators' running game by himself. He was a power runner who looked to bury potential tacklers, not a fragile quarterback who looks to get down or out of bounds at the slight chance of contact. When Florida needed to milk the clock, he ran the ball. He threw the ball downfield. (His 9.88 yards per attempt is tops in the nation.) He avoided interceptions. He didn't let a bruised shoulder affect his production.
The two main arguments I've heard for not voting for Tebow are his classification and his team's three losses. About the first, anyone who doesn't vote for Tebow just because he's a sophomore is doing the Heisman Trophy an injustice. Regarding the second point, Tebow played well in those three losses, particularly the LSU game. Had he played poorly, and cost Florida those games, then we might have a different story.
In this opinion, Tebow was the "most outstanding college football player" of 2007. And it wasn't even close.
2. Darren McFadden, Arkansas, RB, Jr.
Last Week: Idle
Season: 304 rushes, 1,725 yards, 15 TDs; 6-of-11 passing, 123 yards, 4 TDs; 21 receptions, 164 yards, 1 TD; 15 kickoff returns, 283 yards
Heisman-o-meter: The 2006 Heisman runner-up entered the year as the preseason favorite on this list and many others and had an '07 campaign that, at least statistically, was better than last year's. He arguably has more ability than anyone who made this list this year, and he's likely to be a high pick in April's NFL Draft. So why isn't this "back of all trades" No. 1? He underperformed virtually all of October. He was outplayed by teammate Felix Jones in at least five games. But the main reason is that Gator from Gainesville. Now, would I draft Tebow ahead of McFadden? No way. But the Heisman is supposed to be awarded to the player who has been the most outstanding, not the one with the brightest NFL future. (If the latter was the case, then give the award to LSU's Glenn Dorsey or Michigan's Jake Long.) McFadden had a terrific season, and he should have a great pro career. But in 2007 he was the second-most outstanding college football player in the country.
3. Chase Daniel, Missouri, QB, Jr.
Last Week: 23-of-39 passing, 219 yards, 1 INT; 11 rushes, 26 yards, 1 TD in a 38-17 loss vs. No. 9 Oklahoma (in the Big 12 title game)
Season: 372-of-534 passing, 4,170 yards, 33 TDs, 10 INTs; 104 rushes, 284 yards, 4 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: Many players not named Colt Brennan (he had only one win against a legitimate opponent and threw nine, I repeat, nine interceptions against Idaho and San Jose State) were considered for the final slot on the ballot -- Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree, Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon, Michigan running back Mike Hart, Central Florida running back Kevin Smith, Ohio State running back Beanie Wells and West Virginia quarterback Pat White, among others. But in the end, the choice was Daniel, the ringmaster of Missouri's spread attack. He was brilliant from Week 1 and made a steady climb up the list to the point where he was tugging on Tebow's cape late in the season. I was all set to slot Daniel in the No. 2 spot. But on Saturday, in the biggest game of the year for Daniel and the Tigers, after Oklahoma kept Daniel from hitting passes downfield and squeezed the life out of the Mizzou offense, I couldn't justify voting him as the second best player in the country even when considering his entire body of work, which was sensational.
Thank you to all who have read the Watch and given your feedback. Enjoy the bowl season, and we'll see you in 2008.