Mailbag: Heisman, Stoops' tree and TCU 

October, 2, 2009

We'll open this week's mailbag with some Heisman banter.

From Sam in Chicago: In a recent blog post, you wrote four or five sentences about Tate Forcier and just one sentence about Jimmy Clausen? It's ridiculous how Clausen and Notre Dame are always getting slighted by the national media. This kid goes out and leads the Irish on a last-minute, winning-drive on one leg basically. If that was Tim Tebow, he'd already have been awarded the Heisman. Yet, no one has him at No. 1? What more does he have to do for you people?

The short answer? Win a big game. Then I think you'll see Clausen in the Heisman mix. I wasn't counting sentences Saturday night when I wrote that. One guy was playing against Indiana. The other against Purdue. Neither opponent is exactly Oklahoma or Florida. Much of my reaction to Forcier stems from the fact that this is a true freshman leading this team.

As far as Clausen goes, I've pointed out in the blog this month on several occasions how impressed I've been with his performance this season -- but to get to the next level, the burden of proof is on this team to get back into the top 15. Losing at Michigan to a team relying on a true freshman quarterback hurts ND's cause. As it relates to the Heisman, it hurts Clausen.

In fairness to Clausen, the Irish D hasn't helped him much, but if he is going to win the Heisman this year, it's going to require almost a perfect-storm scenario: First, he needs to keep his level of play high and the Irish need to win out. Big stats didn't get Graham Harrell to New York for the awards ceremony, and I doubt it would for Clausen either. I suspect he's also going to need both Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow to slip and lose some games.

If McCoy and UT win the Big 12, I don't see Clausen's overtaking him. Clausen's TD-INT ratio right now is better than McCoy's: 10-1 versus 9-5. McCoy's completion percentage is higher: 71 percent versus 66 percent. McCoy is also the better runner.

I feel like it's the same thing with Tebow, whose passing stats aren't as gaudy, but his running numbers really boost his value.

Beyond those two QBs, I think you have the next group with Cincy's Tony Pike, Houston's Case Keenum and Clausen, where they need to sustain the high level of performance, can't afford a loss and need some help. Sizing up those three, my hunch is that Pike is in the best position since they're still unbeaten and he'll be on TV more than Keenum.

To read the rest of Bruce's blog -- Heisman sleepers, whether Mark Richt could replace Bobby Bowden at FSU, a sleeper to coach UVa if Al Groh gets canned, what Cincinnati's recruiting efforts should tell you about national rankings, and a new knock on Jahvid Best -- you must be an ESPN Insider. Insider