People Still Think Jayden Daniels Shouldn’t Win The Heisman
The Heisman Trophy is one of the most prestigious awards in all of American sports. It was first awarded in 1935, and is the oldest major award in the country's most popular sport.
But how do you win it?
Like most National Championships in college football history, its very confusing on what it actually takes to win, and who gets to choose who wins. The Heisman was originally awarded by The Downtown Athletic Club in New York, but now it is captained by The Heisman Trust. Though the voting is still broken out into numerous groups, and can be hard to follow.
The defined purpose of the award is to honor:
"Outstanding performance which best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, hard work."
While many simply dumb-down the Heisman to "College Football MVP", its not that. While the Most Valuable Player award in many professional sports often goes to the best player on the best team (not always), that concept has seeped into college football.
The Heisman isn't about the being the best player on the best team, its literally about being the best player, and person. The best way to explain who should win the Heisman reflects the way US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart described the threshold for obscenity in the 1964 in Jacobellis v. Ohio when he said
"...perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it..."
There's no scoreboard for the Heisman, so you can't measure everything equally. But, if there was a scoreboard, LSU's Jayden Daniels would lead every part of if for this season.
When you lay out Jayden Daniels stats for the season, he's head and shoulders above anyone else. The numbers he has put up are record shattering in many ways, and he's done it in one of the best conferences (the SEC) in the country. Just look at some of these eyepopping numbers:
Not only was he dominant throwing the ball, Jayden Daniels was one of the most prolific running quarterbacks in college football history. He has rushed for 1,134 yards this year on 135 attempts. That's an average of 8.4 yards per carry. He scored 10 touchdowns on the ground as well. Often when you see a college quarterback running for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, they're not also throwing for over 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns...but that's Jayden Daniels.
In 2023, Daniels threw for 3,812 yards, 40 touchdowns, and just 4 interceptions. His Passing Efficiency Rating is 208.0, which is insane.
Even with these insane numbers, there are a lot of people pushing another quarterback for the Heisman. A quarterback that LSU fans are very familiar with, Bo Nix of Oregon.
Nix has had a solid year at Oregon, throwing for a lot of yards, and winning some games. But stacking the statistics of Nix next to Daniels creates an obvious disparity. Here's what Fox Sports put together:
You can cut out certain stats for Nix to try and suggest he's better than Daniels; things like passing yards, interceptions, or the one that Oregon fans keep pointing hard to...team wins.
Yes, going back to what we talked about with WHAT the Heisman is awarded for, team wins are being argued here, even if that goes against the stated reason for the award. Nix and his team have more wins that Daniels and LSU, but not all college football wins are the same.
Bo Nix plays in the Pac 12, where defense is slightly optional. During the season, Nix only faced 2 Top 50 Defenses, while Daniels had to face 6 of those defenses. Here's how each played against those levels of competition:
Oregon fans have also made the argument that Nix hasn't played much in games that were "blowouts" for his team, suggesting that Daniels has had more chances to perform on the field. Something LSU reporter Preston Guy has cleared up quickly by pointing out Jayden Daniels only had 14 more snaps than Nix this season...
In the SEC, where defensive players are taken over and over in the first round of the NFL Draft, the offensive players who score touchdowns are normally considered some of the best. Bo Nix knows that well, because he used to play in the SEC. He was the starting quarterback at Auburn, and had to leave the SEC for the Pac 12 to put up numbers like he has this year.
In the history of the SEC, there have only been 5 players who have accounted for 50 touchdowns in a season. Four of them happened before this year, and all four won the Heisman going away. The 5th, is Jayden Daniels this year:
But maybe the biggest piece of evidence has been provided by LSU Associate AD Cody Worsham, who not only compared Daniels to Nix, but compared Daniels to the last 11 Heisman winners. The people who actually won the award, and here's how Daniels stacks up:
Daniels tops the last 11 Heisman winners in 7 of 9 major statistical categories. His stats are better than Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Marcus Mariota, Cam Newton, Lamar Jackson, and Joe Burrow. How could someone, with all of this evidence in front of them, say Daniels isn't the Heisman winner?
One last thing, don't say that because Daniels was on an LSU team that has 3 losses he can't win the Heisman. This is an individual award after all. Plus, Kyler Murray's Oklahoma team had a loss hanging over them when he beat out an undefeated Tua Tagovailoa, Lamar Jackson's Louisville team had 3 losses, and just last year, Caleb Williams USC team had multiple losses. Team losses shouldn't play into this when someone has historic numbers...like Jayden Daniels.