Every year the saturation and obsession with college football's Heisman Trophy is intense. And every season, I try to totally ignore it until it's time to vote.
The worst thing about the Heisman is similar to the worst thing about college football -- the reliance upon polls. What it sets is a preconceived heirarchy that ultimately becomes self-fulfilling.
Johnny Manziel is the freshman favorite because everyone says he is, even though his numbers compare almost identically to those of Jordan Lynch of the very-nearly-undefeated Northern Illinois.
Collin Klein is eliminated because of one bad game against Baylor, even though Manziel had an equally rough outing against LSU and disappeared in the second half of his first start against Florida.
Manti Te'o is widely lauded as the best defensive player mostly because he plays for No. 1 Notre Dame, even though Georgia's Jarvis Jones and South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney had better stats and were equally as impactful to their teams' successes in the SEC.
I'm not saying there is no merit to these arguments, just that by the media repeating them over and over in weekly Heisman watches makes it easy to overlook all the other worthy candidates.
So I do my own research: study the NCAA stats, watch games when possible and check out all the highlights readily available on TV and the internet.
I try hard not to play favorites to the bias towards QBs or the tendency to consider the best player on the best teams. The offensive guys shouldn't be blamed for their bad defenses (and vice versa), and players on quality 1-, 2- and 3-loss teams are just as worthy of consideration. It's also not about who would get drafted higher for the NFL and is merely a snapshot of the season's "most outstanding player." There are a lot of ways to interpret that, but I tend to go for guys who with their consistent excellent play have a major impact on their team's successes as game-changers.
These seem to be the final candidates (in no specific order) worth considering on my list (any similarity to other on-going Heisman watch lists is purely coincidental):
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Collin Klein, Kansas State
Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Honorable mentions: Tajh Boyd, A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Nick Florence
Kenjon Barner, Oregon
Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Honorable mentions: Georgia's GurShall and Alabama's Lacy-Yeldon combos.
Marquise Lee, Southern Cal
Terrance Williams, Baylor
Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
Honarable mentions: Deandre Hopkins, Jordan Matthews
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
I've got about 24 hours to narrow this list down to three and order them 1st, 2nd and 3rd. For all the vultures out there trying to play spoiler with the vote tally before the stiff-arm trophy is presented in New York, I won't release final opinions until it's over.