The best conference during the bowl season?
The Southwest Conference, lost now to history — but scattered fragments in four different conferences still very much alive.
Members of the late conference (all Texas institutions) went 6-1. Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas, Texas Tech, Rice, SMU recorded victories while TCU sustained the only defeat.
And if you go back to the charter members in the early 1900s, the late, great SWC is 7-2, with Oklahoma State recording a victory and Oklahoma losing, which is a wash because OU played another former SWC member (Texas A&M) in the Cotton Bowl.
HEISMAN RETRACTION: I voted for Collin Klein to win the Heisman Trophy and gave my rationale in what was a back-and-forth choice for me. I pretty much knew Johnny Manziel was going to win it, but I wanted to make a tangible salute to what Klein did for Kansas State and help him get to New York.
But I’ll admit to a mistake. After looking at the total body of work (especially the late season and the Cotton Bowl), Manziel was the most deserving. In their last six games, the Aggies, primarily because of the dynamic leadership of Manziel, were clearly one of the four best teams in college football. If I voted today, the vote would most assuredly go to Manziel. What impressed me about the Texas A&M freshman is he (and his team) got better and better and more dangerous every game. What he did in humiliating Oklahoma, setting a BCS bowl record for rushing yardage by a quarterback and ringing up a Cotton Bowl record in total offense (229 rushing, 277 passing), was the convincer.
He is not only the most dynamic and exciting player, he’s the best. After he got his feet wet during his freshman season, he was almost unstoppable
What makes him great is what drives most defensive coordinators I know crazy. You can have your scheme and defenders placed perfectly and what Manziel can do with his instincts and improvisation can make you look silly. You cannot scheme for video game moves. Just like in the Cotton Bowl: Sooners, see you later! They were dazzled. They had no answer.
To me, he’s a hybrid between Archie Manning and Fran Tarkenton.
He’s the fourth straight Heisman winner to lead his team to a bowl victory (Mark Ingram at Alabama, Cam Newton at Auburn, Robert Griffin III at Baylor were the others) and joins Doak Walker, Doug Flutie and Ricky Williams as players to win the Heisman and Cotton Bowl in the same season.
The question now is what Manziel — who burst onto the scene and became an immediate rock star — does for an encore.
You can bet Southeastern Conference defensive coordinators will be watching a lot of video during the offseason in order to figure out how to gig the elusive menace.
They might try playing a lot of PlayStation.
For now, the A&M quarterback has my salute. Now, to me, he’s “Mr. Johnny Heisman Football Manziel.”
THE BCS GAME: My initial tendency was that Alabama-Notre Dame could be closer than some think. I had a gut instinct to pick Notre Dame, since the Irish have seemed all year to be a team of destiny, leading a charmed old-school life in the modern era.
But I can’t do that. Workalholic, driven Alabama coach Nick Saban has had too much time to prepare.
Notre Dame can match Alabama in grind-it-out football. I think Alabama may be deeper and quicker. The Irish have a mobile quarterback, which is what you almost have to have to beat Alabama. The key will be if Notre Dame’s offensive line can win, or at least stem the Tide, up front.
Alabama has played teams that are as good, or almost as good defensively as Notre Dame, I’m not sure Notre Dame has played anyone that can throw all the elements at a team defensively like Alabama.
One thing. It will get viewers and ratings.
Ask any longtime football fan the teams and images that immediately come up with when you mention classic great college teams. In most cases, Notre Dame and Alabama will be the first.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or email@example.com)