AFTER JUST two WVU football games, it's almost absurd to discuss quarterback Geno Smith's Heisman Trophy chances.
Then again, it's absurd to ignore where he stands in the race.
Because, in sum, the Mountaineer is now No. 1.
A Heisman straw poll of voters has him No. 1. Most college football websites have him No. 1. Even Las Vegas bookies have him No. 1. According to Bovada, Smith is a 5-2 favorite to win the award, while USC's Matt Barkley is at 5-1. The closest odds of any other "candidate" to win are those of Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas at 15-2.
Without question, Smith is receiving more Heisman love than any other Mountaineer in program history.
"It's off the charts," said WVU athletic director Oliver Luck, who watched his son, Andrew, finish second last year. "Even Pat White wasn't given this kind of deference."
Indeed, the only other Mountaineer to receive such Heisman attention was former quarterback Major Harris, who finished fifth in 1988 balloting and third in 1989 balloting.
Harris, however, didn't receive the Internet or social media attention of Smith. And, frankly, Harris was never considered a serious contender to win. In 1988, then-Oklahoma State star Barry Sanders won with 1,878 votes to the 280 received by Harris. In 1989, Houston's Andre Ware and Indiana running back Anthony Thompson landed over 1,000 votes, while Harris finished third with a respectable 709.
"It's an interesting award," Luck said. "It boils down to 900-some voters [870 from the media, 55 from former Heisman winners and one from the fans], some that pay close attention to college football and some that don't.
"Geno absolutely has a shot, but that's the last thing he should be worried about, given the games he has coming up. Those games, though, will give him the platform."
The platform is built on WVU's new conference affiliation, the Big 12.
"I'm not saying it couldn't have happened in the Big East," Luck said, "but he wouldn't have had the platform."
Here's a sampling of the exposure Smith has received of late:
There's little wonder why Smith has received the attention. In fact, the QB almost has a campaign slogan this week. Goes like this: After 75 passes, Geno Smith has as many touchdown passes (nine) as incompletions (nine).
Of course, Smith's sledding gets bumpier from here. The Big 12 portion of the schedule is nearing. Maryland's secondary is ranked No. 6 nationally in pass defense and No. 30 in pass efficiency defense. And Barkley has been such a media darling (he just might have an office at ESPN) prior to his Stanford clunker that a five-touchdown game against any opponent might vault him back to the top.
For now, however, Smith is where he should be after a stellar start. He's No. 2 nationally in total offense (408.5 yards per game), No. 2 in pass efficiency (209.81), No. 3 in passing yards per game (367) - and No. 1 among Heisman voters.
On Thursday afternoon, a regional radio report said Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is re-evaluating his school's future football schedules.
It makes sense since a four-team national playoff will begin in 2014 and continue through the 2025 season.