It’s too bad that Dwayne Haskins couldn’t be playing in another year. Like, a year in which a pair of quarterbacks didn’t deliver two of the best seasons we’ve seen in the 21st century.
On Saturday night, Haskins will sit beside Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray at the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York. At the end of the hour-long production, the camera will pan to the shot of the 3 quarterbacks awaiting the announcement.
And we already know that it’ll be either Murray or Tagovailoa who hears their name called.
Haskins will likely be an afterthought on Saturday night, whereas in years past, he’d be the one giving the speech more often than not.
The Ohio State quarterback is having arguably the best statistical season that we’ve ever seen from a B1G quarterback. Compare it to the only B1G Heisman winner in the 21st century, fellow Buckeye signal-caller Troy Smith.
With all due respect to Smith, who was the leader of the then-No. 1 team in America, Haskins’ year was indeed better:
It’s not even close. And yes, I realize that Smith’s numbers weren’t quite that when he won the award because it was before his 13th game. He didn’t have a conference title game and Haskins did.
Also, those were obviously different eras. The Buckeyes beat teams with their defense and they had one of the nation’s best quarterbacks. But Haskins attempted 185 more passes than Smith in the same 13-game sample size.
Haskins would’ve won the award over Smith, no questions asked. It’s difficult to compare Haskins to the more mobile Heisman winners like Lamar Jackson and Tim Tebow because while Haskins dominated both of them in terms of the passing numbers, the rushing numbers obviously don’t favor him.
So instead of looking at them, let’s compare Haskins to some recent Heisman winners like Baker Mayfield and Marcus Mariota, who were mobile, but that wasn’t necessarily the driving force of their production (I subtracted Playoff numbers for both of them):
And it’s also worth mentioning that because team success matters with the Heisman, all 3 quarterbacks led 1-loss Power 5 conference champions.
I’d argue that while Haskins isn’t the obvious choice in that group compared to he and Smith, it’s at least a legitimate debate. It would’ve been a fascinating discussion to see those 2 quarterbacks sitting beside Haskins instead of Murray and Tagovailoa. It’s interesting that in the last 7 years, Mariota and Mayfield had the highest percentage of total points in terms of Heisman voting.
Haskins, I’d argue, could have a good case even against another overwhelmingly obvious winner like Jameis Winston, who earned 79.1 percent of the possible voting points when he won it in 2013:
Winston’s ace in the hole that year was that he was a 2-sport revelation playing for the undefeated No. 1 Seminoles. Maybe that would’ve dictated the narrative. But it’s also true that Florida State’s defense that year was significantly better than the 2018 Ohio State defense, which Haskins has had to bail out repeatedly.
But I think this is telling. Haskins will likely be a distant third and there’s an argument to be made that he would’ve won the award over some of the most obvious Heisman candidates of the 21st century.
I’d probably give Haskins the award over the likes of Derrick Henry or Mark Ingram, who benefitted greatly from the fact that neither were up against an extremely prolific quarterback when they won their respective awards.
The reality is that Haskins’ narrative changed dramatically after that dud against Purdue. For that month in the middle of the season, he watched Tagovailoa and Murray pass him in that conversation. That is, up until that Michigan game, when he racked up 440 yards of offense and 6 touchdowns against the nation’s top-ranked defense.
In most years, that would’ve been a Heisman moment. We would’ve watched Haskins back that up with nearly 500 passing yards and 5 touchdowns in a B1G Championship win against Northwestern, and then turned our attention to how convincing his Heisman victory would be.
But 2018 isn’t most years. There’s a reason that this could be one of the closest final votes in the award’s history, and Haskins won’t even be a part of that conversation.
Haskins will indeed be in New York on Saturday night. It’s an unbelievable accomplishment that he’ll cherish for the rest of his life.
I just can’t help but think that as Haskins sits there and watches either Murray or Tagovailoa take the stage, he’ll wish he could transport his 2018 season to a different year.