It’s really very simple.  Richardson is arguably not the best player on his own team.  He may not even be the best running back of the running backs on his team.  Eddie Lacey averages more yards per carry, but to be fair, Lacey gets a lot of clean-up duty after Richardson has done the hard work of wearing down the defense during the first three quarters of the game. 

Neither should Andrew Luck win it.  He wasn’t even the best quarterback on the field during the Cardinal’s loss to Oregon. 

Maybe Robert Griffin of Baylor would be a good choice.  He was certainly the MVP of the Oklahoma win.

Alabama’s one and only Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram in 2009, was not the best player on his team, nor the most valuable.  To my thinking, it’d be a toss-up between Javier Arenas and Rolando McClain as to which was the best and most valuable player for Alabama in their 2009 march to the BCS championship.   Take away either of those, as happened the following year, and Bama’s maybe a two or three loss team, as they were.

Alabama’s best and most valuable player this year is probably either Dont’a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Marquis Maze or Mark Barron.  Take away any of those guys, and this team would probably be on the outside looking in so far as BCS contention is concerned. 

The Heisman Trophy should be renamed.  It is more often the Hypeman Trophy.  There are rare occasions when one and only one player in the NCAA is so dominant against the opposition and so valuable to his own team that he really can be considered the best player.  Tim Tebow seemed to fit the bill during his Heisman year.  Cam Newton did last year for Auburn.  But Auburn’s miraculous run to the BCS championship was as much attributable to Nick Fairley’s defensive dominance as it was Cam Newton’s amazing talents.  Without Fairley anchoring the defensive line, it’s hard to imagine even Newton could have figured out ways to outscore everyone on a team with no defense.  Without Fairley–well, you can see this year what Auburn’s defense looks like without Fairley.  It’s ugly.

Running backs should almost never be awarded the trophy, if for no other reason than their success almost wholly depends upon the performance of the five big uglies on the offensive line.  A running back that wins the award would not be showing false humility to deflect all the attention it garners to, not God, but his offensive line.  Running’s easy.  Blocking’s hard. 

The criteria for determining who should be recognized as the best player in college football is intentionally ambiguous–the collegiate powers that be know that ambiguities of the Heisman Trophy sort generates controversy and controversy generates interest and interest generates dollars.  The Heisman Trophy is of a piece with the beauty pageant and popularity contest known as the BCS Championship, that operates in lieu of awarding a true champion through at least some limited form of playoff.  Is Alabama better than Oregon this year?  We’ll never know, unless they somehow become BCS Championship left-outs and meet in a meaningless bowl game, while two other teams fight it out for the right to be named the mythical champion.

Bama is sitting pretty this year, if it can get by Auburn on Saturday.  Their mantra all year has been “Never Again”, referring to the collapse last year against Auburn after taking a 24 point lead shortly before the half.  But what does “Never Again” mean?  If it means that they’ll never again lose a game in which they lead by 24, that should be fairly easy to accomplish.  It’s not often a team loses after being up 24 points, but it’s not every day a Cam Newton comes along to shake up the college game.  But if “Never Again” means never again losing to Auburn, obviously it is a hollow promise.  Bama should beat Auburn this year, but Bama has been slipping of late.  Of course, so too has Auburn, so who knows?  All that’s for sure is that nobody gets surprised in this game–both teams show up to play, so usually, even if it doesn’t start out that way, such as in 2009 and 2010, the best team eventually prevails. 

The only bright spot on Auburn’s defense lately has been the ability to throttle marquee running backs during big games.  Auburn defense held Ingram to only thirty yards in 2009.  It held Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina to under a hundred every time they’ve played.  If it likewise throttles Richardson but Bama still wins, Bama will undoubtedly do so on the strength of its defense.   And if Richardson still wins the trophy, it will be a meaningless Hypeman Trophy.  Because football is not an individual sport, it is exceedingly rare when one individual can be singled out as the best.  

But for Saturday, RTR…win it whichever way you can Bama.