We had our own poll here on Touch the Banner and here are the results of our Heisman vote:
Johnny Manziel - QB - Texas A&M: 52%
Manti Te'o - LB - Notre Dame: 21%
Collin Klein - QB - Kansas State: 13%
Marquise Lee - WR - USC: 8%
Braxton Miller - QB - Ohio State: 1%
Manziel, of course, was awarded the trophy on Saturday evening, becoming the first freshman - albeit a redshirt freshman - to win the trophy. This comes just a few years after Florida quarterback Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win the award.
Interestingly, the order of the TTB poll exactly mirrored the voting of actual, certified voters. Here's the real voting, by total points (first place votes are in parentheses):
Manziel: 2,029 (474)
Te'o: 1,706 (321)
Klein: 894 (60)
Lee: 207 (19)
Miller: 144 (3)
Jadeveon Clowney - DE - South Carolina: 61 (4)
Jordan Lynch - QB - Northern Illinois: 52 (3)
Tavon Austin - WR - West Virginia: 47 (6)
Kenjon Barner - RB - Oregon: 42 (1)
Jarvis Jones - LB - Georgia: 41 (1)
Personally, I voted for Manziel and wanted him to win. He completed 68.3% of his passes for 3,419 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions; he also ran 184 times for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns. Altogether, he had 4,600 yards and 43 touchdowns while leading his team to a 10-2 record and a victory over then #1 Alabama. He set an FBS record for total yards.
Media darling Te'o, who finished tied for #2 in the country with 7 interceptions, didn't have remarkable statistics in any other category. He also had plenty of opportunities to build up those statistics, because Notre Dame played a large number of close games. Despite being ranked #1 with a 12-0 record, the Irish won five games by a single score, including two overtime victories. Despite plenty of time on the field, he was tied for 59th in tackles, had just 5.5 tackles for loss, and notched just 1.5 sacks. I just don't think a middle linebacker who finishes #59 in tackles deserves to beat out a quarterback who set a national record for total yards.
Of course, it was frequently pointed out that Te'o could have become the second "primarily defensive player" to win the Heisman Trophy, after Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson won in 1997. Let's compare their statistics.
Woodson, 1997: 44 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 9 pass breakups, 8 interceptions; 1/1 passing for 28 yards, 5 rushing attempts for 21 yards and 1 touchdown, 12 receptions for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns, 36 punt returns for 301 yards and 1 touchdown
Te'o, 2012: 103 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 4 pass breakups, 7 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery
Te'o obviously blows Woodson away in tackles due to his position, but every other statistic is virtually even . . . except for the fact that Woodson played offensive and special teams, accounting for 560 yards and 4 touchdowns. Admittedly, we're comparing different seasons and not voting across the years, but the standard has always been that offensive players win the award, with the lone "defensive" player contributing in all phases of the game. That standard would be lowered significantly, in my opinion, if someone with Te'o's stat line were good enough to win the award. Aside from the fluky interception total (Te'o is a four year starter but had zero interceptions coming into this season), those numbers are relatively pedestrian. Consider that Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs in 2010 had 116 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 2 interceptions. Te'o is simply the best player on the #1 team in the country - which happens to be NBC's baby Notre Dame - and that's what put him in the discussion.
Klein (3,380 total yards, 37 touchdowns), Lee (1,680 receiving yards, 17 total touchdowns), and Miller (3,310 yards, 28 touchdowns) each had good seasons, but none compared to Manziel. This was a good choice by the voters.