There was no real surprise Tuesday night in a year full of surprises. Devonta Smith, second on my ballot for the record (Trevor Lawrence was third), won the Heisman Trophy and in a year that didn’t seem normal, it was fitting that a wide receiver won the Heisman, the first one since 1991.
But there was a Heisman delivered to Gainesville, just in case, and that certainly was something for the Gator Nation and Kyle Trask (first on my ballot) be proud of. (They delivered one to each school of the four finalists just in case).
Gator fans certainly were not surprised and they would have likely been shocked if the best story in college football had won the best trophy in sports.
It’s funny how the Cotton Bowl changed the way a lot of Gator fans and non-Gator fans looked at Trask even though the bowl games come after all the votes are in. Before that game, there was so much support for Trask winning the Heisman, almost to the point where Florida fans were going to take it as an insult the same way they were insulted when Rex Grossman didn’t win in 2001. The truth is, Grossman was robbed. Trask was not.
Grossman lost to a guy who in Nebraska’s Eric Crouch who had seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. To be fair, he also rushed for 1,000 yards and 18 TDs and had a trick play catch for a touchdown that was his Heisman moment.
Grossman lost by 62 points and had 25 fewer first-place votes. He was probably hurt by a split regional vote because of Ken Dorsey from Miami. I remember my colleague Robbie Andreu saying he couldn’t vote for Dorsey because he couldn’t vote for a guy who could not throw a spiral.
He was exaggerating. I think.
But the bottom line was Grossman lost because his team lost the final regular game of the season by two points. Grossman’s stats in that game – 362 yards and two touchdown passes with absolutely no running game (thanks to Darnell Dockett injuring Earnest Graham on purpose.)
But what you have to never about the Heisman voters is that there are more than 900 of them and not all of them pay attention. They put way too much weight on the last couple of games of the season. Trask lost the Heisman with a turnover-plagued performance against LSU, not the six-point loss in the SEC title game to Alabama.
He could have won it by beating Alabama, but he lost it by losing to LSU.
The Heisman is not about an entire season and certainly not about big games in the middle of the season anymore. It’s about how you finish. Tim Tebow won it with five touchdowns in Game 10 and a domination of FSU in Game 12. Danny Wuerffel won it with six touchdown passes in the SEC title game.
Neither one of them had overwhelming competition.
That he finished fourth among the four finalists is a little surprising, but that’s how difficult the competition was. He was the favorite when it didn’t matter, but still to go from not being the starter to being a Heisman finalist is amazing.
This goes back to something we talked about on The Tailgate – how guys like Trask who have had amazing seasons can never get their names on the stadium because of Florida’s tough restrictions.
I have some ideas on how to elevate the names of Florida greats that don’t qualify for the Ring of Honor or a brick for being an All-American. Feel free to call, UF.
I just know Kyle Trask deserves something more than he received on Tuesday night.