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December 7, 2007

Everyone has their own Heisman favorite

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com and a Heisman voter who has gotten much feedback this week after revealing his choice.
Previous mailbags
Nov. 30: The home stretch
Nov. 23: Something to prove?
Nov. 16: What's the difference
Nov. 9: Ducks without Dixon

As college football's highest individual honor, the Heisman Trophy is subject of much debate, controversy and scrutiny.

Perhaps that's never been more true than this season. There are more bona-fide candidates than usual, which has added to the debate and controversy and venom spewed in those debates.

This week's mailbag answers why votes were cast for Florida's Tim Tebow, why some other high-profile candidates didn't get votes and who might be contenders next season.

We'll also consider whether a competitive team in the ACC can break into the Top 25 after the bowls. Which one? Read on.

Many worthy candidates

I was just curious as to why you didn't vote for UCF tailback Kevin Smith (for the Heisman Trophy). The guy leads the nation in both rushing yards and scoring, and is a game away from a record-breaking season. Sure, he may play in Conference USA, but he's put up great numbers against teams outside of his conference as well. Plus, he has just as many wins as Mr. Tim Tebow.

Brent in Orlando

I did consider Kevin Smith for my third-place vote, but decided to give it to Dennis Dixon because he probably was the front-runner before his injury. Dixon's importance to his team was obvious the way Oregon collapsed without him.

There were an abnormal amount of legitimate candidates at the end of this season, with Tebow, Arkansas' Darren McFadden, Missouri's Chase Daniel, Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, Hawaii's Colt Brennan, Dixon and Smith. Almost all set some kind of record this season.

With so many candidates, I felt all factors had to be considered, including caliber of competition. Eight of the teams UCF faced (the Knights played Tulsa twice) ranked 90th or worse in rushing defense this season. The best rushing defense Smith faced was USF, which ranks 19th and limited him to 55 yards on 15 carries.

I know other running backs from non-BCS schools have done well in the NFL and in retrospect probably should have gotten more Heisman Trophy consideration or perhaps should have won it TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson and San Diego State's Marshall Faulk come to mind.

Time will tell if that's the case with Smith. But at this time, I still have to go with Tebow, McFadden and Dixon, and I feel comfortable with those choices.

MORE: Rivals.com 2007 Awards Watch | College Football Awards History

Overrated? Not so fast

Why would you vote for Tim Tebow for the Heisman? I think he is very overrated. Everyone knows (Florida coach) Urban Meyer padded Tebow's numbers. If Meyer gave the ball to his running back or fullback, Tebow's numbers would be cut in half.

Brandon in Georgia

Did you consider that perhaps Meyer wanted Tebow to carry the ball because he was confident he would score?

I voted for Tebow because I think he's the most outstanding player in college football this year; it's that simple.

I can understand why someone would argue in favor of McFadden or Daniel or Brennan or Kevin Smith. What I do not understand is why someone would disparage Tebow's brilliant season.

Even if you take out his rushing stats (838 yards and 22 TDs), he still passed for 3,132 yards with 29 touchdowns and only six interceptions, completed 68.5 percent of his passes and averaged 14.4 yards per completion and 9.9 yards per attempt; his yards-per-attempt average leads the nation among the top 100 quarterbacks.

The bottom line is the guy had an amazing season and, in my opinion, deserves the Heisman.

And, no, I am not from Florida. I'm from Texas.

Geography question

What's wrong with Colt Brennan? I guess playing for an undefeated team from Hawaii doesn't count for anything other than absolute dismissal. You so-called East Coast experts are some of the most truly misguided egotists of all time who glorify in your own self-importance.

Jim in Hawaii

As mentioned above, I'm from Texas, which isn't on the East Coast unless, of course, you're talking about Port Arthur. Now, I live in Franklin, Tenn., which is east of the Mississippi but very much void of a coast.

Anyway, I did not vote for Brennan because I don't think he was most deserving. Hawaii's schedule included two Division I-AA teams and only two teams (Boise State and Fresno State) that managed winning records. Hawaii's opponents were a combined 53-92.

How many teams do you think would finish unbeaten against that cupcake schedule?

Furthermore, seven of Hawaii's opponents ranked 67th or worse in pass defense, and that doesn't include the Division I-AA teams (1-11 Northern Colorado and 5-6 Charleston Southern).

What would Tebow do against that schedule? Or Georgia's Matthew Stafford or Oklahoma's Sam Bradford or Boston College's Matt Ryan?

Heck, Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell had more passing yards, more touchdowns, a higher completion percentage and fewer interceptions than Brennan. Admittedly, Texas Tech also played a lot of teams with horrendous pass defenses, but at least it faced Oklahoma and Missouri.

Of course, Brennan can't be faulted for the schedule Hawaii played (that's on the athletic director), but he shouldn't be given the Heisman after playing against those teams, either.

Next in line?

Do you think (Clemson quarterback) Cullen Harper will be a Heisman contender next season?

Dan in Columbia, S.C.

That's certainly a possibility if he raises his performance a notch.

Harper was exceptional in the second half of the season. He completed at least 65 percent of his passes in the last six games and had 13 touchdown passes and three interceptions as Clemson went 5-1 in that span.

Of course, he would have had one more touchdown pass, the Tigers would have gone 6-0 in that span and they would've had a shot at the ACC championship if not for a dropped pass that would have produced a game-winning touchdown in the final minute against Boston College.

If no Tigers enter the NFL Draft, Harper will return his top two receivers, including Aaron Kelly, who had that unfortunate drop. Tailbacks James Davis and C.J. Spiller would also be back, so that would put a lot of talented players around Harper.

Harper would have to raise his yardage totals and Clemson would have to avoid that unexpected loss it seems to endure every season.

The top preseason candidates for next season (we're presuming McFadden and Kevin Smith enter the NFL Draft) likely will be Tebow, Daniel, Ohio State tailback Chris Wells, West Virginia quarterback Pat White, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Texas tailback Jamaal Charles.

Others surely will emerge. Harper could be one of them.

In the Wake of winning

Can anyone explain why Wake Forest could (and will) defeat the Big East co-champion in a bowl game and still not be ranked in next year's preseason Top 25? What has to happen for Wake Forest to be ranked in the Top 25 at the end of the season? Where is the respect?

Al in North Carolina

First of all, Al, this season isn't over yet, so I wouldn't worry about next year's preseason poll.

The probable reason Wake Forest isn't ranked in the top 25 is because the Deacons finished third in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. The only currently ranked teams to finish third in a division are No. 9 Florida and No. 25 Arkansas of the SEC, which is a much stronger conference than the ACC.

Also, it doesn't help Wake Forest's case that it lost at home to a dreadful Nebraska team. In fact, none of the Deacons' eight victories were against teams that currently are ranked and only two were over opponents with winning records 8-4 Navy and 7-5 Florida State.

That said, if Wake Forest defeats Connecticut in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 29, the Deacons likely will finish in the final Top 25, which will enhance their chances of being included in next year's preseason rankings.

Olin Buchanan is the senior national college football writer for Rivals.com. Click hereTo send him a question or commentfor his Friday Mailbag.

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