Melvin Gordon III for Heisman

Chris Wolcanski, Staff Writer


Over the years, many of college football’s best and brightest talents have brought home some fancy hardware for their efforts. In particular the Heisman Trophy stands out as it recognizes college football’s most outstanding player on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball.

Melvin Gordon III, The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s workhorse tailback, has had a season for the ages leading the Badgers to a 10-3 record, 1st place finish in the West division of the Big Ten Conference and a berth in the Outback Bowl on New Years Day against Auburn.

Through thirteen games, Gordon has amassed almost 2500 total yards, scoring 29 touchdowns, with 3 coming through the air. When compared to past Heisman Trophy winners at the same position, Gordon stacks up extremely well.

Mark Ingram, who won the Heisman Trophy during his sophomore season at the University of Alabama in 2009, only accumulated just under 2000 yards from scrimmage and 20 total touchdowns, respectively.

Clearly, Gordon must be considered in any conversation involving the Heisman Trophy and arguably, the greatest running back in a long tradition of elite Badgers running backs. Among the best in UW history stand Heisman winners Ron Dayne and Alan Ameche.

Dayne won the Heisman in 1999 when he totalled 2043 yards and 20 touchdowns, almost 500 yards and 9 touchdowns less. Ameche won in 1954 when the game was more defense oriented leading to a Heisman winner with only 641 rushing yards and no touchdowns.

Unfortunately for Gordon, he has some tough competition for the award this year with Junior Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota making a stellar case for himself. Mariota led the second-ranked Ducks to the first ever college football playoff this year with a 12-1 record and the Pac-12 Conference Championship.

Mariota threw for 3783 yards and 38 touchdowns and ran for 669 yards and 14 touchdowns so far this season for the Ducks. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston threw for over 4000 and 40 touchdowns for the Florida State Seminoles.

What Mariota may lack in the passing attack, he more than makes up with his ability to create plays with his legs, as shown through all the success he has had in the running game.

Mariota also has another thing going for him. His position, quarterback is becoming the favored position for the Heisman Trophy, as can be seen through the last decade. Of the last 11 Heisman winners, 10 have been quarterbacks.

Ingram was the first running back to win the Heisman since Dayne won the award in 1999. Before Dayne, 4 of the 5 winners played a position other than quarterback, with three running backs and one cornerback receiving the award.

In order to give more balance to college football and to create more interest in the prestigious award, I argue that, if possible those who vote in the Heisman selection process should take into consideration the way the game is beginning to be played.

Many teams are starting to focus their offenses on passing rather than running the ball. Quarterbacks are throwing for more and more yards with the new style of offense playing heavily to their benefit. When taken into consideration, Melvin Gordon’s season looks more and more impressive.

Gordon has far out produced the previous Heisman running backs on a less talented team than his competition’s and should be rewarded the recognition that comes with the  Heisman Trophy.