Make the Heisman an offense-only award

Not only did this season’s Heisman Trophy usher in a new era for the classic honor – one in which players of any class can win – but it effectively proved that no exclusively defensive player can ever take home college football’s most prestigious award.

No, Charles Woodson doesn’t count. He returned punts, scored touchdowns and even played some wide receiver.

The nomination of defensive players has almost become a ritual over the past few years, almost as a half-hearted attempt to please old-school fans like me who prefer a 17-10 game over a 70-63 one. In 2009, Ndamukong Suh went to New York and watched Mark Ingram win. Last year, Tyrann Mathieu – who often ended up returning punts and fumbles, making up a majority of his Heisman highlight reel  – did the same with Robert Griffin III.

Then, this year, enter Manti Te’o. The Notre Dame linebacker was, with seven interceptions and 101 tackles on the year, easily the most qualified defensive player to ever go through the motions of losing in New York.

He was a consensus All-American. He was the undisputed leader of the best team with the best scoring defense in the nation. He had already taken home the Walter Camp and Maxwell Awards for Player of the Year and Outstanding Player, respectively.

So how on earth was this guy not the frontrunner for college football’s MVP trophy?

By no fault of his own, Te’o just wasn’t exciting enough. He just did his job better than anyone in the country, and as a result, he had no “Heisman moment” – whatever that is – and didn’t score any touchdowns.

If the Heisman were made into an offense-only award, the change would reflect what has long been the reality of the award – the most electrifying offensive player with the most “signature” highlights wins.

So why make great collegiate defenders like Suh, Mathieu and Te’o go to New York and lose nearly every year? It makes no sense, and those guys don’t deserve it.

Instead, how about making the equivalent of a defensive Heisman to end this ridiculous charade of an Outstanding Player award? That way, the Heisman can go on being a highlight-based award, and the newly-founded D-Heisman can actually reward outstanding defensive players, not just embarrass them.

The Heisman Trophy is supposed to reward the best players.

It doesn’t.

Something has to change, and it most likely won’t be the minds of the voters.