Heisman finalists announced; Tech’s Harrell snubbed
NEW YORK ” Tim Tebow will go for two against a pair of talented quarterbacks from the Big 12 when the Heisman Trophy is handed out Saturday night.
Sam Bradford from Oklahoma and Colt McCoy from Texas joined Tebow as Heisman finalists announced Wednesday.
The last time all the Heisman finalists were quarterbacks was 2001, when Nebraska’s Eric Crouch won the award and QBs held the first six spots.
Tebow, the rugged and multitalented junior from Florida, was the first sophomore to win the Heisman last year and is trying to become the second player to win it twice.
Archie Griffin won the Heisman as a junior in 1974 for Ohio State and again in 1975.
Tebow’s Gators will play Bradford and the Sooners in the BCS national championship game Jan. 8 in Miami.
“It’s a good thing I don’t have a vote,” Bradford said while attending an event with Tebow and McCoy in Orlando, Fla., where numerous college football awards will be handed out Thursday night. “I couldn’t decide. It’s just an honor to be one of the guys going up to New York.”
Tebow became the first college football player with 20 touchdown passes and 20 rushing touchdowns in 2007, carrying a Florida team that finished 9-4.
This season, Tebow’s stats were down, but his play has still been stellar. He is fifth in the nation in passer rating (176.7) with 28 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. He hasn’t been asked to run as much this season, but still has 564 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.
Most importantly, the Gators are 12-1 and a victory away from their second national title in three seasons.
“Tim is a winner,” Florida coach Urban Meyer said during a news conference in South Florida with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to promote the national title game. “He wants to win. He’s motivated like all of us are. But he’s a team-first guy. That’s why statistically he might not have the Star Wars stats like he had a year ago. However, he won 12 games. And if he could have either-or, he’s going to take 12 wins and the chance to hold that crystal ball.”
Tebow made a strong final case to win another Heisman, leading Florida’s 14-point fourth quarter and comeback 31-20 victory in the Southeastern Conference title game against Alabama last Saturday.
As a former winner, he also has a vote.
Tebow said 1996 Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel suggested he not tell people what he did with his vote.
“I’m taking his advice,” Tebow said.
Bradford has directed the highest scoring team in major college football history, leading the nation in passer rating (186.3) and TD passes (48) while throwing for 4,464 yards.
The Sooners have scored 702 points and became the first college team in 89 years to reach 60 points in five consecutive games when they won the Big 12 title game 62-21 over Missouri last Saturday.
“Players just follow him because of his commitment to them and how tough he is and how important the team is to him,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said.
McCoy, who had the imposing task of following Vince Young as Texas’ starting quarterback, has turned out to be a multiple threat much like his predecessor.
McCoy set a major college record with his 77.6 completion percentage, breaking the mark set by Daunte Culpepper for Central Florida, and is the Longhorns’ leading rusher with 576 yards and 10 touchdowns. Texas finished 11-1, with a victory against Oklahoma.
“If you’re going to play quarterback in our league, you better be able to put a lot of points on the board,” McCoy said. “There are just so many good offenses in this league.”
That victory wasn’t enough to get McCoy and Texas into the Big 12 or national championship game instead of the Sooners.
Heisman organizers generally invite three to five players, based on vote totals.
Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell was surprisingly not invited to the ceremony, to be held at the Sports Museum of America in downtown New York for the first time.
Harrell, the latest in a long line of prolific passers to run coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, leads the nation with 4,747 yards passing and has thrown 41 touchdown passes. He also led Texas Tech to a school-record 11 victories and a tie for first in the Big 12 South with Texas and Oklahoma.
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Hollywood, Fla., contributed to this report.