The Heisman Trophy race is down to two players, but there was certainly room for Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – This is a Heisman Trophy that Teddy Bridgewater could have won.
OK, I'll let you disagree with me on that one. But I won't let you fuss about this:
Bridgewater should have at least played his way into an invitation for the Heisman ceremony in New York City. There was room for Bridgewater to strike the pose. That's where this Monday Rewind begins.
Bridgewater won't get to Manhattan. Not now. After Louisville lost that game to Central Florida in mid-October, you could hear the rest of the nation changing the channel to follow other Heisman contenders. They've never come back. The latest blog post (click here) from the Heisman Pundit doesn't have Bridgewater in the national top 10.
This Heisman will belong to either A. J. McCarron of Alabama or Jameis Winston of Florida State. Winston is probably the favorite, but McCarron can overtake him with his usual poised and efficient game at Auburn Saturday and another in the Southeastern Conference championship game. It's no accident McCarron is posing on the cover of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated.
Of course, Winston has bigger worries than the Heisman. He's awaiting a decision by the state attorney in Tallahassee into a sexual-assault claim made against him.
The rest of the field – Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Bryce Petty of Baylor – was thrown for a loss last weekend.
Bridgewater has not done enough the last three games to make anybody outside the American Athletic Conference pay attention again. He has not thrown for 300 yards in U of L's last three games.
Facing Connecticut, Houston and Memphis, he's thrown two touchdowns and one interception. With those numbers, he'll be fortunate to beat UCF quarterback Blake Bortles (more than 2,800 passing yards) for all-conference.
Overall Bridgewater's completion percentage (71) and yards per attempt (9.47) are better than last season. He needs three more touchdown passes to set a career high in that number, too. He'll be a high draft pick if he enters the 2014 NFL Draft.
But he never really delivered a "Wow," moment. Louisville's schedule has not done him any favors. The loss to UCF turned off Louisville's national spotlight. The offensive line has left him unprotected too many times the last three games. Leave a space for conservative play-calling on the list of reasons he won't make it to New York City.
There was an opening to get there. But Bridgewater didn't get through it.
If you believe this story from Orlando Sentinel (and I do), Louisville fans won't have to worry about the University of Florida calling Charlie Strong back to Gainesville to fix the mess Will Muschamp has made of the Gators' football program.
Even if the Gators fall to 4-8 by losing to Florida State by 50 Saturday, the word is that athletic director Jeremy Foley will not fire Muschamp after his third season.
Assistant coaches? Yes.
The head coach who backed up UF's first loss to Vanderbilt since 1988 by losing a home game to Georgia Southern Saturday? No.
Here's the local takeaway from that one: Even if Muschamp gets a fourth season, Florida's in-state recruiting has to be vulnerable. There have to be more than a few top prospects wondering if Muschamp will survive to coach them for more than a season.
Sounds like a perfect opportunity for Strong and Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops to report to the Sunshine State and collect more commitments.
THE CLASS SYSTEM
If you're a consistent reader of my work, you know that I am a major fan of Ken Pomeroy's web site that features advanced college basketball analytics. It's 19.99 per season, and I get my money's worth every day.
Well, I've been directed to another hoops site you'll enjoy – www.bbstate.com. Basketball State delivers a tremendous filtering system for working through team and individual statistics for only $12.49 per year.
Here's a sample snapshot: With all the attention on this season's remarkable freshman class, college basketball's sophomores, juniors and seniors have been tossed to the discard bin.
So I went to bbstate.com and sorted through the top scorer, rebounder and assist guy in every class:
Sophomores: Points – D. J. Balentine, Evansville, 29.6; Rebounds – Jordan Reed, Binghamton, 11.8; Assists – Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 8.0.
Juniors: Points – Antoine Mason, Niagara, 31.2; Rebounds – Roscoe Smith, UNLV, 16.3; Assists – Julius Brown, Toledo, 7.7.
Seniors: Points – Roberto Nelson, Oregon State, 30.3; Rebounds – Chad Posthumus, Morehead State, 13.3; Jason Brickman, LIU-Brooklyn, 9.2.
LOUISVILLE'S COLUMBUS CONNECTION
During Thanksgiving Week, it's important to give thanks to all my faithful readers. So thank you. But special thanks this week to former University of Louisville athletic director Bill Olsen.
He read this story that I posted last Friday about U of L defensive end Marcus Smith, who added to his sack total by getting to the Memphis quarterback Saturday. Smith grew up in Columbus, Ga., a place with powerful high school football that sits in the southwest part of the state, bordering Alabama.
I mentioned that Columbus is also the hometown of former Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Otis Sistrunk, Clemson star Brentson Buckner and Chicago White Sox two-time AL MVP Frank Thomas.
Olsen delivered a reminder that U of L also has a strong connection to Columbus – former Cards' football stars Ernie Green and Charlie Johnson grew up there, too.
Green, 75, played his final U of L season in 1961. He joined the Cleveland Browns as a fullback. He had a very important job that he did well – blocking for Jim Brown, perhaps the best back who ever played the game.
Johnson, a defensive lineman, followed Green to U of L, playing for the Cards from 1966-to-68. He's been a successful businessman in Louisville for many years. Johnson, who also played in the NFL, became the first African-American graduate of the school to serve on its Board of Trustees.
Last week's questions: With Kentucky losing, which team deserved to be ranked Number One in college basketball?