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TV brainwashing sports voters

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- AS I'VE BEEN oh-so impatiently awaiting the Northern Illinois-Florida State Orange Bowl and the Syracuse-West Virginia Pinstripe Bowl, what's saved me have been duties.

This season I've been voting on the Associated Press Top 25 football and basketball polls, as well as the wire service's All-Big 12 and All-America teams. Oh yes - and that Heisman Trophy deal.

What I've learned and what, I'm sure, you suspect is voting on such matters is an inexact science. But what I've also learned and what, I'm sure, you also suspect is not all voters thoroughly research matters.

That's as clear as the three Heisman Trophy finalists.

It's as if many simply watched Brent, Herbie, Lou, et al., and decided from the candidates the TV heads tossed out there.

Hmmm, should I go with the one with the "Heisman moment?" Then Johnny Manziel it is.

Maybe I'll be radical and go with the best defensive player. Then Manti Te'o it is.

Perhaps that guy from surprising Kansas State would be good: Calvin ... er, Collin Klein.

Those are your Heisman finalists, folks. (Insert Musburger voice there.) But let's really break this down, beginning with the quarterbacks.

Look at the NCAA numbers in regard to passing. If you wish to forgo No. 1 Rakeem Cato of Marshall and No. 2 Colby Cameron of Louisiana Tech, that takes you to No. 3 Geno Smith of West Virginia and No. 4 Seth Doege of Texas Tech. Baylor's Nick Florence is No. 18.

You'll then find Manziel at No. 21 and Klein at No. 84. Yes, 84.

Passing yards per game? After Cato and Cameron, you'll find Florence at No. 3, Smith at No. 4, Oklahoma's Landry Jones at No. 5 and Doege at No. 6. Manziel is No. 19 and Klein is No. 71. Yes, 71.

Total passing yards? No. 1 Cato, No. 2 Cameron, No. 3 Florence, No. 4 Smith, No. 5 Jones and No. 6 Doege. Manziel is No. 16 and Klein is No. 64.

Still not seeing the light? OK, let's go to passing efficiency. Alabama's A.J. McCarron is No. 1 there. WVU's Smith is No. 7. Klein is No. 16 (finally a plus for him), Manziel is No. 17 and Florence is No. 21.

I hear you. Klein is an all-around QB. Runs and passes, with a strong emphasis on running. Well, in total offense, the No. 1 performer has been Florence. No. 2 is Manziel. No. 3 is Smith. No. 9 is Doege. No. 10 is Jones. And Klein comes in at ... wait for it ... No. 30.

It's clear that Klein is behind Florence and Smith, not only in the Big 12, but nationally. One could argue Doege and Jones also performed better.

Peeps, this is not an award for the leader of feel-good stories. It's supposed to honor the best.

But, OK, let's address a couple of arguments. Kansas State was a terrific story this season. Bill Snyder easily received my vote for Big 12 coach of the year. Klein did a wonderful job. Some voters wish to reward the best players on the best teams.

If that's the case, though, do so. Vote for Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones. Or Alabama guard Chance Warmack or Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.

The best player on Kansas State's team is linebacker Arthur Brown. On Texas A&M, it's defensive end Damontre Moore.

But those guys weren't packaged nicely and presented with a bow by television. They weren't the spiritual leaders. They didn't have "Heisman moments."

Remember, you must have the networks present and focused on you to have "Heisman moments." The networks have to decide to run such moments over and over. Manziel was fortunate there. WVU's Tavon Austin, who had 572 all-purpose yards against Oklahoma, was not.

Should voters lean on where television cameras are situated? Really? With all the statistics and technology available these days?

But back to the candidates, specifically Te'o, a very good player with a great story. He probably is the best player on No. 1 Notre Dame's team. Te'o has seven interceptions.

However, he's also ranked No. 59 nationally in tackles. Actually, the linebacker is tied at No. 59.

The best defensive player, and the one who received my No. 1 vote, was unquestionably South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney. In my opinion, he was the most dominating player in the country offensively or defensively. Clowney finished No. 2 in sacks to a kid from Western Kentucky. He finished No. 2 in tackles for loss to Jarvis Jones, another great candidate.

Clowney wasn't the symbol of anything. He didn't have a great story or "Heisman moment." He was just the best.

Oh, and while I'm on the subject of voting, I'm going to shoot down this "eye test" deal in relation to ranking teams. You hear it all the time. I've used it to justify my votes in the past.

But what I've realized this year is most of our eyes are bad. We need new glasses. Sure one still has to use the "eye test" when voting between teams with similar resumes, losses and athletes.

My eyes, however, didn't tell me A&M would defeat Alabama. My eyes didn't tell me Baylor would beat Kansas State. My eyes sure as heck didn't tell me Notre Dame would be in the BCS title game. So until someone defeats Ohio State, which won't happen, I've been voting the Buckeyes No. 2. Prove to me Notre Dame or Alabama or any other team can beat them. I know the Crimson Tide can be defeated.

In sum, it's simply best to stick with what you know. It's best to honor those that earn rewards. And it's best to take Brent and his buddies with more than a grain of salt.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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