This is not a post about how Evan Royster should be a Heisman winner. It is a post about why he shouldn't care about whether he is a Heisman winner or not.
A while back Penn State's QB offered up the following as food for thought:
"If you want to talk Heisman and you want to talk running backs, Royster should be one of the top names, no question," Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark said.
Adam Rittenberg goes on in that piece to explain that (in so many words) Royster doesn't really have a shot because he simply doesn't get enough carries. The thing is he's right, and that is why it's such a stupid award.
A quick look at Rivals' power rankings and you'll see Royster is sitting behind three different backs from his own conference: Shonn Greene (#4), Chris Wells (#6), and Javon Ringer (#7).
|2008 - Evan Royster||9||135||970||107.8||7.2||0||10||14||126||14.0||9.0||0||0|
|2008 - Chris Wells||6||124||674||112.3||5.4||0||4||7||26||4.3||3.7||0||0|
|2008 - Javon Ringer||10||321||1427||142.7||4.4||0||18||20||130||13.0||6.5||0||0|
|2008 - Shonn Greene||9||198||1257||139.7||6.3||0||11||7||43||4.8||6.1||0||0|
So I think it's pretty clear what the story is here. Penn State's tailback is getting by far the fewest carries per game, yet putting up very impressive yardage and a ridiculous ypc average.
Now this isn't an attempt to take anything away from these four runningbacks, as Paterno would say they are all pretty good football players. What we are getting at is how to judge performance.
The one thing I love about baseball is the way you can isolate statistics and get a true gauge on what the real story is. I hate football stats for their lack of this characteristic. No sport is as dependent on a "team effort" as football. The backs can't run without a great line, the quarterback can't pass without an honest run threat, the receivers can't catch balls unless they are thrown properly, and an offense can't win games unless the defense stops the other team from scoring. Despite all of this, a player cannot even be considered for the award unless his team is elite, which, to be honest, makes it a lot harder to tell if the ‘stars' are actually that good or simply a product of a great situation.
That being said, I think all four of these backs are very good at what they do, and Royster's ability to turn three yard gains into 7.4 yard gains is pretty impressive. He lacks the carries because of Green's involvement in the offense, and doesn't score as many TD's because of the effectiveness of the 230 lb QB sneak. It's because this is such a great team that Royster has no shot. Because of this, it's important to not let the description of the Heisman fool you into thinking it's a real award.