Manti T’eo, A Deserving Heisman Candidate

manti teo heisman
Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o (5) celebrates in game action. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the Michigan Wolverines by the score of 13-06, at Notre Dame Stadium, in South Bend, IN. (Photo – IconSMI / Robin Alam)

The Heisman Trust states that “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.  Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.”  This is a perfect description of Manti Te’o.  Te’o is a part of a two horse race between himself and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for college football’s top individual prize.  Both players have impressive stats but Te’o excels in every way including intangibles and representing the spirit of the Heisman in ways Manziel cannot come close to equalling.

Those arguing in favor of Manziel to be the Heisman winner point to the fact he has a Heisman moment, guiding the Aggies to a road victory over then number one ranked Alabama, while Te’o doesn’t possess such a moment, this notion is absurd.  Te’o has led the Irish on two legendary goal line stands, one against Stanford in the pouring rain and another against USC to solidify the Irish’s trip to the national championship.  These goal line stands symbolized the toughness of the Notre Dame defense, a defense led by Te’o, which takes its attitude from its senior leader.  The Notre Dame defense and entire team for that matter are a reflection of Te’o, the team plays for each other and never gives up despite the odds, a team that takes the fight to the opponent instead of sitting back and playing not to lose.  These intangibles all symbolize the spirit of Notre Dame, which Te’o has resurrected.  Te’o also has a Heisman moment against Oklahoma, a team favored by double digits against the Irish, his fourth quarter interception of Sooners quarterback Landry Jones led to a game-clinching filed goal and established on primetime television as the world watched that Notre Dame is back.

Furthermore Te’o has 103 tackles, seven interceptions, good for second in the nation, two fumble recoveries, and eleven pass defenses.  Te’o has had some games where he hasn’t had ground-breaking stat totals, but has never had an off game to the degree of costing his team a victory, as even when he is slowed down he makes sure the rest of the defense is in the right position to make plays.  Te’o leads the number one defense in the nation, a unit that triumphs with its back to the goal line and makes opposing offenses earn every inch, a defense that has yet to have an awful game.  Manziel on the other hand has produced great stats, throwing for 3419 yards and 24 touchdowns while completing 68 percent of his passes, to go along with 1181 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing, but has had off games.  Manziel is in an offense made for him to rack up numbers win or lose; however, he has had poor outings which have led to his team’s two losses.  Manziel threw for only 173 yards and no touchdowns, while rushing for only 60 in a loss to Florida, and played horrendously in a loss to LSU, throwing three interceptions while completing barely over 50 percent of his passes, and rushing for a mere 27 yards on 17 carries, not exactly Heisman-like performances.  Also Te’o is a consensus first team all-American, while Manziel is not, and it seems ridiculous to have a Heisman trophy winner who isn’t an all-American.

Additionally Te’o’s story is story book, returning Notre Dame to glory and capturing the heart of a nation after playing in the same week he lost both his girlfriend and grandmother, and doing it all with a team expected to lose five games this season.  On the other hand Manziel is just another spread quarterback racking up huge numbers.  It is impressive he has done so as a freshman in the SEC, but he wasn’t even on the Heisman radar before the Alabama victory and quite frankly doesn’t possess Te’o’s body of work throughout the season.  Manziel doesn’t have the intangibles of Teo as he is a freshman and is not the undisputed leader of his team, not to mention his arrest for disorderly conduct, not exactly what the Heisman statement symbolizes a player to be.

The Heisman symbolizes more than just stats; it symbolizes a player and a type of person which Te’o fits perfectly.  Manti Te’o is the best player of the best team in the nation and as his head coach Brian Kelly has said if Te’o doesn’t win the Heisman it might as well become an offense only award.  It’s simple, Te’o has been the man all year, Manziel is just the flavor of the month.

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  1. Seriously, Manti had no right to be on that stage for Heisman. He is a “good” player but he is not great. Notre Dame played teams that are normally relatively strong teams but this year Notre Dame’s schedule was weak. He was totally useless during the championship game. The only reason he was even considered was because he plays on the over rated media favorite had no right to be playing for the National Championship “Wimpy Irish”


    1. You mean “help” from the officials. Pittsburgh and Stanford were both “give me’s” by the officials. Notre Dame is not all that which Alabama proved in a major way. My team, Tennessee which currently stinks, gave Bama a better game. Tennessee did not even finish with a winning record. Lets you know just how over rated Notre Dame is.

  3. JDH,

    Klein and Manti did not get arrested! So let me get this right, a jailbird is more deserving than these two?? Sorry JDH, to expound on the “Heisman Trust Mission Statement” then spin 180 and extol Manziel??? Are you kidding me? Go lay that false-hearted holier-than-thou crap on some other board. Next, I suppose you will be advocating collective salvation? But in your case, rules and virtues are vaporous at your whim. The Heisman is now morally corrupt and you damn well know it.

  4. I hear you, JTRAIN, I hear you. It’s frustrating to hear people downplay Manti’s stats. I think Manziel and Klein are fine players. But their stats get padded by playing weak opponents and in Klein’s case in a conference that doesn’t seem to play D at all. Something like 51% of Manziel’s total passing TDs came against FCS schools or bad SEC teams. Bottom line is “Johnny Football” won the Heisman by playing well in 1 game! Manti brought it the whole season!

    Now it’s time to refocus on the NC game against Bama.

    Here Come the Irish!

    1. Holy cow! Manziel plays in the toughest conference in the nation. Manti was absolutley useless against Bama. Before opening mouth check your stats.

  5. JDH

    I think Manti would agree. I’m sure winning the heisman was important to him but he has always said that the NC was priority #1. Great thing about Te’o, you can actually believe that. In re-reading my post I can see how it comes off like I think Manziel is undeserving but that’s not what I think. I guess it came from all the people calling Te’o’s stats average while omitting the eye popping 7ints. Just frustration I guess. Congrats to Manziel.

  6. Now that the “Heisman Trust Mission Statement” has clearly been repudiated with it’s 2012 selection. Investigate further on ESPN’s front page: Texas A&M’s (vainglorious) marketing blitz of the NEW, IMPROVED and NOW “Johnny Heisman!”

    I wonder if they will hand-out false driver’s licenses to incoming freshman autographed by “Johnny Heisman?”

    Yeah, definately a “service to our youth!”

  7. No hate, “Buckeye,” but read the Heisman mission statement and tell me that it’s only about players on O winning.

    The Heisman should just rewrite its mission statement to eliminate character and defensive players from ever being eligible.

    I don’t know if there was an anti-ND bias or not, but there certainly is an anti-D bias.

    1. My .02:

      I am disappointed that Manti didn’t win, but it’s hardly a suprise. We’ve known for years that it is an offensive stats / offensive hype award. That being said, I also completely disagree with denigrating Manziel and anybody on this board doing it should reexamine their heads. By most accounts, he seems like a very good and decent kid who is one hell of an athlete. He had a fake id? OH NO! Let’s castigate him for life! (so do most college kids) Fine, he made a mistake as a kid. Certainly no bigger than Tommy Rees, Calabrese, Michael Floyd etc. made as kids. Let’s get real and stop casting stones at relatively minor offenses and lessons learned.

      This team and Teo have set numerous amazing records this year- unranked to #1 / undefeated, Teo winning 6 majors in one year etc. He didn’t get the Heisman and it’s too bad. Oh well…

      But that hardly makes Johnny Manziel “undeserving”.

      How about everybody take a page from TEO’S BOOK of class, humility and Godliness? As Teo said repeatedly, Manziel deserves it just as much he does. The title game is about 1000X more important.

      1. JDH,

        None taken!

        You make good points and I wasn’t taking a cheap shot at either Klein or Manziel who both seem to come from decent, Christian families.

        Of course, my point wasn’t that Manziel was undeserving. I don’t think that’s what JC, Shaz, or JTRAIN were saying either (although I don’t want to speak for anyone else and apologize if I over-stepped my bounds). I think the point we’re all trying to make, and I think you’d agree with us, is that if the Heisman were true to its mission statement, Manti was the most deserving of the 3.

        But it’s said and and done. Like you say, “Oh well….”

        I guess Manti will just have to “settle” for all those other trophies he’s won lately and the NC!

      2. SFR,
        I agree completely. I do think Teo was more deserving, especially given the actual definition of the Heisman. Let’s bring home the NC and all will be forgotten!

  8. If the phony punditry would have considered character as stated, Teo would have won hands down! The Heisman is now as relevant as the Nobel Peace Prize. Obsessive focus on the numbers is all the Heisman is about today. Sad for the other winners.

    1. JC


      It’s obvious the heisman mission means very little. Te’o could have been a great ambassador for all of college but the love affair with qb’s who run up the vast majority of their stats vs poor competition won the day. Te’o brought it all 12 games. When teams tried to throw the ball to avoid him he went and got it. Best player on the #1 team in the country…didn’t think there needed to be anything else said.

      Also, one question that I thought more heisman voters would ask themselves: What if ND beats Alabama and Everett Golson puts up similar/better numbers? Let’s be real here, if Mccarron throws a TD instead of an INT at the end of the a&m/bama game Manziel doesn’t even get invited to NY. It was his one “heisman” moment. Would have to think another redshirt frosh duplicating this “moment” on a bigger stage would take little shine off that trophy!

      I am just happy I got the chance to watch Te’o play for 4 years. He’s a great kid. His post ceremony comments are just another example of the kind of kid he is. (on YouTube)

      As always
      GO IRISH!!!

      1. Te’o is a great player and by all accounts a great kid why can’t you just enjoy that? Why do you have to denigrate Manziel?

        McCarron throwing an INT instead of a TD had nothing to do with Manziel “even” getting invited to NY. As of right now he is the only player to lead his team to a win over Alabama and he put up very impressive numbers in the toughest conference in college football.

        I don’t remember that being the best player on the best team was the criteria for winning the Heisman. ND will be the best team if they beat Alabama but not until. Most people think Alabama is the best team and is there anybody on that team that even got invited to NY?

        As great of a player as Te’o is I don’t think he is worthy of being the first purely defensive player to win the Heisman. He won everything else and those awards get split most of the time so take that as a sign of respect for his talent.

        Now you can bring the hate.

      2. Did you read the last part of my post? Clearly stated that I was happy about watching him play.

        Impressive numbers in a tough conference? 5 tds vs AQ teams with winning records is far from impressive for a qb. Think it was 51% of his td’s came against 2fcs schools and smu. Color me not impressed.

        I said #1 team. Not best team. That’s where ND is ranked so the fact that “many” people feel Alabama is the best team really isn’t relevant to what I said.

        Didn’t think you were capable of making a case without being a troll so I will say you have surprised me.

        GO IRISH

      3. Buckeye,

        There’s no hate, just facts, Manziel was arrested June 29th this year for bar fighting and two false driver’s licenses.

        Definately, the epitome of an outstanding Heisman winner!

      4. “Don’t think being the best player on the best team is critera for winning the Heismen”?

        Not even a remote possibility?

        If Ohio State, at 12-0, hadn’t been disgraced and banned from post season play, you would be singing a different tune about Braxton Miller right about now!

        Now we are going to give you to the count of ten to get your ugly, yellow, lying, floorflushing – carcass off our website before we pump your guts full of lead!


        HA, ha ha aha ha…..

        Keep the change you filthy animal!

      5. Shazamrock,

        I didn’t say the best player on the best team, or No. 1 team as I have been corrected, isn’t part of the criteria. What I said is that it shouldn’t be the only criteria.

        We can agree to disagree on whether the Buckeyes have been disgraced but that doesn’t change my opinion of Braxton Miller. He isn’t deserving of the Heisman – yet! I don’t think the ban had anything to do with it, Manziel had a better year, but Braxton’s time will come.

        As for Te’o, I am not being critical of him when saying that I don’t think he should not win the Heisman. In fact, I think Lacy/Yeldon vs. Te’o IS the national championship, whoever wins that battle wins the game.

        It’s too bad that the Buckeyes committed those minor infractions, yes I do mean minor, because I would have loved to see them play ND for all the marbles. Maybe next year.

      6. I don’t think a coach like Tressel gets run out of town for “minor infractions”.

        In todays college football, minor infractions are almost always overlooked.
        Especially for head coaches who can recruit, win games, and make the university a ton of money.

        Also, some of the “Ohio State” football memorabillia that a few of the most special of players traded for “TATS”
        are some of the most cherrished items by some of the greatest Ohio St players and coaches of all time.

        I think its a deplorable act of “Me First” and selfishness as well as a complete lack of respect for Buckeye history and tradition.

        If that’s minor in your book, so be it.
        I never gave a rats ass for Ohio St anyway.

        As a life long ND fan I can think of nothing worst than players who sellout on the history and traditions that took over a hundred seasons of hard work and sacrifice to build for a few stupid tatoo’s.

        You can live for “next year”.

        We still got a game!

        We know you’re in there little fella…
        And you’re allllll alone.

      7. We can finally agree on something, I have the same feelings for ND that you have for the Buckeyes.

        And I do not absolve Tressel or any of the players for their wrongdoing. You couldn’t pay enough money to want to get a tattoo so I will never understand why they did it.

        You should know about living for “next year” ND has been doing it for two decades.

      8. You gotta do better than that!

        Get down on your knees and tell us you love us.

        You was here last night too wasn’t ya?

        And you was smoochin wit your brother.

        You been smoochin with everybody… Snuffy, Al, Leo, Little Moe wit the gimpy leg, Cheeks, Boney Bob, Cliff…

        I could go on all night baby!

        Tell you what I’m gonna do for you…

        I’m gonna give you to the count of ten to get your ugly, Lyin, hatin, no good Ohio State kiester off our website!

        And have a happy new year ya filthy animal!

      9. Buckeye,

        Good comments. Te’o did fine with the awards. Won everything he could have except the H.

        Not sure why there is such an ND-OSU hate thing any ways. You regularly beat up on our second most bitter rival, which can’t be a bad thing. And, you have a great coach. And, tattoos aside, you HAD a pretty good coach before.

        Look forward to seeing Michigan OSU duke it out for the next decade!

  9. Manziel…a red-shirt freshman offensive QB…winner…what a surprise…at least to me!

    I would have to admit that this was a ho-hum year for offensive players…as these 2 qb’s did not live up to one’s in previous years and no RB’s at all…or even to some 2nd and 3rd place finishers of years past.

    Sooo…now it’s over and we can see how the bowl games go…and how the 3 of them perform in that arena.

  10. Next year Johnny Manziel will put up similar numbers and wont even get invited to the Heisman Banquet. It really is a joke. Im sure Teo will be happy with a NC ring to go with his Maxwell, Camp, and Bednarik awards. Go Irish

  11. In light of Manti winning the Maxwell, Camp and Bednarik awards and becoming the most decorated player in football history so, he just might have just upped the odds in pulling in the Heisman. Like it was said, the Heisman is so much more than being a great football player. IMHO Manti should win this award.

  12. Manti picks up the Lombardi Trophy (best lineman), the Nagurski Award (best defensive player)and the Butkus Award for best linebacker.

    May as well add the Heisman. He deserves them all.

  13. Manziel should win in a walk. I am a lifelong Notre Dame fan but Manziel has been absurd. Using extremely simplistic logic –

    Manziel has accounted for 69.4% of Texas A&M’s offense. That is more than Robert Griffin III last year, Cam Newton in 2010, or Sam Bradford in 2008. It is quite reasonable to say that Manziel is something near 70% of A&M’s offense, but no one can say that Manti Te’o is anywhere near 70% of Notre Dame’s defense. Manziel has better stats number one, and has meant more to A&M number two. No amount of whingeing about media bias or intangibles will change that.

    1. If you think the award should be/is about offensive stats. Unfortunately, that’s what the award has become. But, by the Heisman Trust’s definition of the award, it is not an offensive stats award:
      “Heisman Trust Mission Statement

      The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and integrity of this award. The Trust, furthermore, has a charitable mission to support amateur athletics and to provide greater opportunities to the youth of our country. Our goal through these charitable endeavors is for the Heisman Trophy to symbolize the fostering of a sense of community responsibility and service to our youth, especially those disadvantaged or afflicted. All assets of the Trust beyond the expense of maintaining the annual presentation of the Heisman Memorial Trophy are reserved for such charitable causes. The Trustees, who all serve pro bono, are guided by a devotion to college football and are committed to community service and the valued tradition which the Trophy represents.”

      The Heisman and the AP Player of the Year are the only awards to honor the most outstanding player”, “while the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Award recognize the “best player”.

      Based upon actual definitions of awards, I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Heisman than Manti Teo. Want to give the Camp and/or Maxwell to Manziel? I think that makes total sense.

  14. scav,

    Win or lose, this has been a great season. Of course, win the NC, by beating Alabama, and it becomes a legendary season!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

    Go Irish!

  15. Well everyone, the stage is set, ND vs Bama for all the marbles. I am excited that it is Alabama and Saban because if you want to be the best, you need to beat the best.

    If ND wins this game, all the haters will finally be silenced once and for all. Alabama is the reigning champion, Saban has a month to prepare, and the SEC is the dominant conference. All this can come crashing down with a ND win.

    Regardless of the outcome, ND has arrived and is going to be a national powerhouse for years to come. I’m satisfied with this season and in about a month, we can see if ND can take it to the next level. If they lose, there is no reason to hang their heads because the SEC has dominated college football for the last 6 years.

    ND broke Oklahoma’s 42 game winning streak, why can’t they be the one who breaks the SEC 6 national championship streak.

    I’m going to take a break from the hype for a few weeks and enjoy my friends and family. I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    I look forward to Jan 8th when we are all celebrating ND’s next national championship.

  16. If the Heisman trophy, truly is a trophy given to the best individial and standout who fits what this trophy endures, what it represents, and what it stands for, then I can only say this to you all. It stands for an individial that is there for his team, his university, and off the field as well. Manti has represented this trophy in every aspect, for what it stands for, so what if he is on defense, he represents to everyone on defense across the world, to be there for his team, his university, and off the field being a well rounded individual. I hope the voters understand its not always the stats that count, its what the Heisman trophy is all about. Hope for one day these voters see what Manti has done on the field and off the field, and say to themselves this is a complete football, All American Linebacker, who represents his university and off the field as well. A true football player who plays with his heart each game and brings the very best out of others around him. GO IRISH!!!!

  17. Heisman-Yep, he exemplifies what the award should truly be about. Will he win it? I doubt it, probably a runnerup. If he doesn’t get 1st team AA as a LB then screw all those types of recognition giving. Eifert should have been 1st team AA last year as TE. He better get it this year.

    Go Irish

  18. Superstition aside – like this guy is going to have a bad defensive game…are you kidding me? I can see that on the offensive side of the ball from prior Heisman winners but the Irish D is the real deal – Manti will do nothing other than shine on 1-7-13….! GO IRISH!

  19. Manti has very little chance of winning the Heisman because ESPN and the SEC have given the award to “Johny Football”. Watch, a lot of voters especially in the Southeast won’t even given Te’o a 3rd place vote to ensure their candidate’s victory.

    That said Manti has had a great year and will win many awards. Plus he will be a success for the rest of his life, even if pro ball doesn’t work out (you never know about injuries, a bad team etc.) I am proud that he and I will both be ND grads.

  20. Actually, I really liked BK’s comments. “The Heisman should be considered an offensive award if Manti does not win it!” Based on that comment, let’s expand the possibilities! Why not an Offensive and Defensive Heisman? Seems more attuned to reality of fairness.

    Why? If you are going to allow Defensive Players to participate in the Heisman then it needs to be a level playing field!

    Here come the Irish 13-0 NC!

  21. Manti is our Heisman winner regardless. All the ND haters may rob this guy from the trophy, but we know who is most deserving…

  22. … Great points. Should get a nod just for turning down the NFL to finish what he committed to four years ago. Everything that’s right about college football

  23. As Jack previously stated, many times the Heisman player and team does not have an excellent showing in the bowl game. With superstition aside, I hope for it all. Regardless of what happens, Manti is a man among men with character,inner strength and a spirituality which is the key factor holding this man together. Butkus Award, All awards–or not–Manti is superb as a human being. Humble, strong, honest, team player–all the ingredients we all hope to be. He is a role model for ALL of us regardless of age. We are blessed at Notre Dame!
    I hope, of course, for all awards to be in the record books for Notre Dame. One of the main componets of the focus of the 2012 Irish is Manti!
    That in and of itself is cause for hope in the Jan. 7th game and in life!
    Once in a while an individual graces the scene with his presence. We have seen this at Notre Dame with Manti. May we be blessed to bless him in all his future days with love, prosperity and for him to continue to be a blessing to all. THIS–is what NOTRE DAME is ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. A.Peterson deserved to be the Heisman winner, but he was a freshan. manti should be the winner because he fits all the requirements of a Heisman award candidate. People love to see great plays by any player. i myself like to see a player run for a lot of yards and one who passes for a ton of yards. Does that make him the best player in college football. Texas A and M lost two games and the qb. was not even mentioned as an All American


  25. I would love to see Manti win the Heisman, but I am superstitious. Most Heisman winners go on to have horrible bowl games. I would and I think if given the choice Manti would rather hoist the crystal football than the bronze statue. I say who cares about the Heisman and lets get that crystal football back to South Bend.

      1. Vince Young didn’t win the Heisman, and the committee didn’t hand him the award when Reggie Bush vacated it.

  26. I might be a wee bit biased here, but I think Manti Teo should win the Heismen hands down!

    He is the total package!

    I also think he should win the Bronko Nagurski Award for the most outstanding Defensive Player, the Butkus Award for the best linebacker, the Chuck Bednarik Award for the best defensive player, The Doak Walker for the best player with high Academic Standing, The Maxwell Award for the best war cry, The Walter Camp Award for best team leader, The Nobel Peace Prize, and the Fred Biletnikoff Award for the best diving interceptions.

    I also think he should submit his name for this year’s Tri-Wizard Tournament!

  27. Agree with all the above. However, it seems the media (many of whom have Heisman votes) have all but crowned Manziel the Heisman winner. Everything I read talks about how Manziel being a freshman shouldn’t stop him from winning the Heisman (which I do agree with) indicating where they are thinking about voting. Then they talk about T’eo and there are all these “yeah, buts” thrown in. Based on what I’ve seen so far, it appears Manziel will be the winner and T’eo will be second.

    Ashame, too, because T’eo really is the heart of this team. I honestly do not believe we would be undefeated without him. He didn’t do it all by himself, but his attitude and playmaking helped the team rise to play to the best of their abilities. That I have not doubt.

    1. I would be more than thrilled if Manti took second place to Johnny Football in the Heisman voting if we win the NC. Im sure Manti could care less about winning the Heisman. Offensive players always earn more style points. Not fair but that how it is. Manziel is fun to watch but has been overhyped by the media. I count two games where Manziel was not good enough. Cant say that about Manti.

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