The last 140 years are quietly strewn with the forgotten names of excellent horses who bowed to fragility and never reached the Kentucky Derby. In a way, it’s a bit of an upset that 20 equine bodies always do.
Granted the differences between horse and human including weight and brains — although if you watch people pamper racehorses you sometimes might wonder which is the smarter — the annual trail to the Heisman Trophy is similar. One unlucky twist can derail the whole game, season, even career, not to mention the potential trip to New York in December.
It’s always lousy to miss a trip to New York in December.
Rather than a fond hello this week in the Heisman update, we say a fond goodbye to Taysom Hill, Brigham Young quarterback. We barely got to know about him. We never got to ask him about his hometown, Pocatello (Idaho). We never got to ask him about the vagaries of being married to the sister of a former Brigham Young linebacker or the sister of the wife of a current Brigham Young safety. We never got to ask him about his Mormon mission.
Wait, you got Sydney? Good grief. What’d you do, bribe somebody?
Hill had spent the first four games of fall scrambling and throwing around the fields of late summer and early autumn with distinction. He tore through Austin like some giddy foodie. He did more than well enough to outscore Virginia. He compelled, and he figured to lace early December not only with discussion but perhaps argument and maybe even mild rancor, in a sport that loves its mild rancor.
Then he rather innocuously scrambled right just 2:43 before halftime of a Friday night game against visiting Utah State. Brigham Young led 21-14. He got up, limped to the sideline with a broken left leg. Brigham Young lost 35-20. Hill had surgery on Sunday morning. His season statistics: 88 completions in 132 attempts, 975 yards, seven touchdowns, three interceptions, and days spent rushing for 160, 99 and 97 yards, with those three touchdowns as a visiting party-crusher in Austin on Sept. 6 (a 41-7 crowd-displeaser).
Come December, there’ll be the leading candidates in New York and the usual discussion about who deserves to win, during which somebody should bring up the importance of luck.
Those leading candidates as of early October:
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: On a Saturday so chockablock with stuff that you could forget Georgia played, Gurley did rush 25 times for 163 yards against Vanderbilt, the kind of day that sustains a muscular cause.
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State: It’s not really the way it looks on paper even though those numbers in the blasting of Texas A&M look pretty (19-for-25 for 259 yards, 23 rushes for 77, five touchdowns accounted-for). It’s the super-competent way it looks on the field. It’s serious business.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: In an unfair world, it’s unfair how receivers’ Heisman campaigns might suffer from getting muddled in an upset loss, as if they’re buried beneath toppled goal posts. Well, this tremendous football player caught nine more passes for 91 more yards, giving him 52 catches in five games.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: Single plays can matter, of course. And in that single-play swing last Thursday night when Mariota’s gaudy, front-running candidacy could have swung toward the heights, it sagged a bit when an Arizona linebacker with the marvelous name Scooby Wright ripped the ball away. Mariota, to his credit, complimented the play.
Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame: Single plays can matter, of course. If you scramble left on fourth-and-11 with a minute to go and a 14-10 deficit to create possibility, then find a tight end in the back left corner of the end zone, then zing it properly for an excellent catch of considerable drama, we all start to look at you again.
Cody Prewitt, LB, Ole Miss: Here’s an almost-weekly feature that acknowledges the global award injustice against defenders. Here’s an excellent defender who doubles as an excellent quote which is, of course, a matter crucial to society, including sportswriters.