Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by saying that I appreciate your service. Giving up your Saturdays, turning down social invitations and family obligations to devote your attention to your college football team is a real sacrifice, and our system works because of people like you. The issue before you today is whether Coleridge Bernard Stroud IV is worthy of your votes to win the Heisman Trophy in 2021. By the end of the evidence, I believe you’ll be able to agree with me that he does.

Statistics

In spite of what Mark Twain famously said about statistics, numbers matter. Let’s compare the numbers of 3 potential Heisman candidates, which we’ll do anonymously.

Player A: 71.1% completion percentage, 10.0 yards per pass attempt, a touchdown every 9.6 pass attempts, 3,468 passing yards, 36 TDs, 186.7 QB rating

Player B: 71.7% completion percentage, 9.8 yards per pass attempt, a touchdown every 9.7 pass attempts, 3,584 passing yards, 38 TDs, 186.2 QB rating

Player C: 67.5% completion percentage, 9.0 yards per pass attempt, a touchdown every 18.2 pass attempts, 3,100 passing yards, 19 TDs, 159.5 QB rating

Player A is Stroud, and Player B, who is almost statistically identical, is Alabama’s Bryce Young. Player C is Ole Miss’s Matt Corral. Statistics don’t eliminate Young, but they probably do eliminate Corral, who has had a fine year, but who is 5th in QB rating in his own conference.

Team success

The Heisman is an individual award, but winning that award is somewhat tied to team accomplishments. It’s like a Most Valuable Player in baseball. With apologies to recent American League MVP Shohei Ohtani, how valuable can a player be when his team finishes in the middle of the standings with him? It’s not really an award for how awful your team would be without you.

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Nobody says the Heisman has to go to the best player on the best team– although it often does. But being on one of the best teams is pivotal. That eliminates not only Corral, but Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III and Pitt’s Kenny Pickett.

Being in the right place

This is the Jordan Davis category. Again, being the best player on the best team carries a certain amount of prestige. And as good as Ohio State has been — and that might well mean being No. 2 in the nation right now — Georgia has been the best. But Georgia’s best player is probably a massive 340 pound defensive lineman. Is Jordan Davis great? Of course he is. But is he Heisman material?

No.

Charles Woodson is the only defensive player ever to win the Heisman. And that’s not even fair. Woodson was a fair receiver and a devastating kick returner in addition to being a lockdown cornerback.

But Davis just can’t give numerical proof of his brilliance. He has 23 tackles this year– that’s 13th best on his team. He has 3.5 tackles for loss, which ties for 9th on the team. With 2 sacks, he ranks 8th on UGA’s roster, and even his 9 QB hurries comes in 9th on the squad.

You can’t give the Heisman trophy to a guy who picks up 2 tackles per game, and a tackle for loss every month or so.

On the other hand, Stroud is a quarterback, the guy at the center of every offensive snap. He averages more than 3 touchdown passes per game. More touchdowns than tackles? Hard to argue for the defensive guy.

The clutch difference

It was acknowledged before, but the best competition Stroud has is Alabama QB Bryce Young. He plays the right position, so he’s involved in a ton of plays. Ohio State and Alabama are 2 of the top 3 teams in the nation. The numbers look good. But the difference between a really good player and a great player is in clutch plays. So here are some more numbers:

3rd down and 10+ yards to go passing stats:

Stroud: 14-for-17 passing, 174 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, 195.4 QB rating
Young: 11-for-20 passing, 209 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, 139.3 QB rating

Passing stats with their teams trailing:

Stroud: 55-for-87 passing, 836 yards, 7 touchdowns, 1 interception, 168.2 QB rating
Young: 46-for-70 passing, 627 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception, 157.0 QB rating

That’s the clincher right there. At the end of the day, the big picture for Stroud and Young is similar. But look closer — look at the toughest plays a QB has to make — 3rd-and-long passes and passes made when their highly regarded team is behind. And in both cases, there’s a clear leader.

Ladies and gentlemen, consider the evidence, ponder which player exemplifies “outstanding performance which exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.” It’s not a guy from an also-ran team. It’s not a defensive lineman who never gets his hands on the ball carrier, much less the ball. And at the end of the day, it’s not the guy from Alabama who ran up his numbers playing from ahead.

Make the right decision, and then sleep well on it when he dominates the CFP. CJ Stroud has earned your votes. Do your duty and deliver them.