De’Anthony Thomas’s Heisman Stock, and the Chaotic Randomness of College Football

If the Minnesota Vikings handling San Francisco and the Arizona Cardinals jumping out to a 3-0 record didn’t tip you off, then know this: football is random.

The phenomenon that analysts try to explain but can’t continued in college football last weekend, as well, as LSU dropped from No. 2 in the nation to No. 3 because they almost lost to Auburn, and Oregon jumped into their vacated right-hand man to Alabama spot because they destroyed Arizona, 49-0. The Wildcats came into the game averaging 46 points per outing, and Oregon stopped them dead in their tracks.

And, if you needed more proof to the random hypothesis above, hear this: Oregon’s best player, De’Anthony Thomas, has apparently fallen down the Heisman rankings because his team (basically) won without him.

Thomas piled up only 59 yards of total offense in Oregon’s easy win over ‘Zona, and only touched the ball on 12 carries. He also only attempted one kick return, which he grabbed a significant 38 yards on.

Thomas wasn’t a big factor in Oregon’s most demonstrative win of the 2012 season, so his stock dropped? That’s according to Examiner.com.

In all fairness, isn’t that a little shallow? Does that really make sense to you?

College football is the most inexplicable of all “professional” leagues. Its national championship is still decided by a ranking system that lifts and drops teams at the flip of a hat and waits for favourites to lose so its choices can be justified. Its why players win the Heisman (the NCAA’s MVP) regardless of their team’s chances to finish atop the nation (as in, Robert Griffin III in 2011), but then they are sometimes pushed down the pole when they haven’t shown they can be the over-arching reason for their teams’ success in every available weekend (as in, De’Anthony Thomas).

Should Thomas be punished because of his team’s proficiency?

Football is, like all the games we love, a team sport. You can’t win without a good quaterback, a good running game, good receivers, or the best defense. Regardless of individual records, the best teams have never always had the best player. It’s why Alex Ovechkin never won a Stanley Cup in his two Hart Trophy seasons, and it’s why Kobe Bryant has one MVP and five rings. It’s why Steve Nash has two MVPs and no rings, and why Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl.

The universe exists on chaos, but awards like the Heisman try to quantify that randomness.

That’s why De’Anthony Thomas might not win the hardware, even though he’s the best college football player in North America.

And, it’s why we shouldn’t care who wins the damn thing, but we do.