NASHVILLE — Joe Tessitore and the rest of the SEC Nation crew were on Vanderbilt’s campus Friday in preparation for a Saturday morning broadcast. While speaking with SEC Country, Tessitore — a noted Heisman Trophy race expert — offered up an opinion that Georgia and Alabama fans are bound to dislike.
“I wouldn’t want to be Nick Chubb or Derrick Henry,” Tessitore said.
With rain pounding the sidewalk 10 feet away, the veteran broadcaster launched into a well-researched speech about why the nation’s top Heisman candidates will likely fall short come December.
“It’s been happening for years, now,” he said. “If you start too early, and you get all the attention early — Geno Smith, Denard Robinson, the list goes on and on and on — you won’t even arrive in New York. You won’t even be sitting in the front row. Because what happens is, you set the bar of expectations, then you take a retreat step and somebody else makes a middle move and comes on stronger in October. And then somebody comes on even stronger in November.”
Most Chubb and Henry detractors will point to the fact that a running back hasn’t won the coveted award since Alabama’s Mark Ingram in 2009, but Tessitore does not see positional bias as the primary culprit: The real issue is a moving goal line.
“The problem with a running back is that we have statistical thresholds that need to be met,” Tessitore said. “In recent years, those who have been showing up to the front row… that statistical threshold is 2,000 yards. Andre Williams, Melvin Gordon, so on and so forth.
“It can happen. We get fooled and think it’s become a quarterback’s award. Yes it has. That’s who’s won it. But it can happen. There is a formula that happened. It’s just that that formula hasn’t happened (recently). If Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry do what they’re capable of doing, and Georgia and/or Alabama is in the College Football Playoff, then yes, you can win a Heisman Trophy.”
Those are some big ifs, especially for Georgia, which has not finished in the Top 4 of AP voting since 2007.
And — returning to the idea of positional bias — that’s somewhat of an unfair standard, considering recent QB winners Johnny Manziel (2012, Texas A&M) and Robert Griffin III (2011, Baylor) fell well short of the national championship race.
But the picture is crystal clear to Tessitore: Chubb and Henry need to play their best football in November.
“He who moves last, moves best,” he said. “You want to move last.”