For the first time in a long time, the California Golden Bears have a potential Heisman Trophy candidate. Jared Goff isn't going to be anyone's first choice to win college football's biggest prize in 2015, but he is on the list.
Current odds in Vegas are around 50 to 1 for Goff to win the Heisman. Pac-12 players with better odds include Cody Kessler (USC), Paul Perkins (UCLA), Royce Freeman (Oregon), D.J. Foster (ASU) and Nick Wilson (Arizona). Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State) leads all Heisman candidates, with Dak Prescott (Mississippi State), Trevone Boykin (TCU) and Leonard Fournette (LSU) right behind him.
Now, it is worth mentioning what happened the last few times Cal ended up with a Heisman Trophy candidate:
- 2009: Jahvid Best. This was a rough one. Best started strong (remember his five touchdown game in Minneapolis?) before some bad games, a great rebound, and an even worse fall. That season was a roller coaster. Really good. Really bad. Really good. Really bad. Really really good. Really really bad.
- 2007: DeSean Jackson. It started with an epic punt return against Tennessee, culminated with a huge performance in Autzen, and then everything went to crap. Quickly. Even talking about this season makes me upset--Murphy's Law was in effect for almost the entire second half of that miserable year. Not one break went our way. Brutal.
- 2006: Marshawn Lynch. Lynch did have a good season with some memorable ghostriding moments, but often let his buddy Justin Forsett finish games and didn't have a statistically phenomenal season. That's just the type of guy Marshawn was.
- 2004: Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers had a great season, but was upstaged by the equally spectacular year J.J. Arrington had, and they ended up splitting the few votes that went Cal's way that year. If Rodgers had beaten USC, it's likely Adrian Peterson ends up with the award instead because of that brutal Southern bloc that blocked Cal from the Rose Bowl in the first place. In the end, only Rodgers and Arrington got any significant votes, and they didn't crack the top 5 in voting.
So you can see why I am apprehensive of any Jared Goff for Heisman campaign. They just don't really happen, especially at a place like Cal, which shies away from national publicity for whatever reason.
That being said, I really appreciate Goff, and want to give him his fair shake. He definitely COULD win the Heisman if all the pieces fall into place. But it's a lot of damn pieces. I'm rooting for those pieces to fall, but it'd still require a lot of things outside of our control to occur.
What has to happen?
1. Cal most definitely has to win the Pac-12 and be almost flawless doing it.
Hey, why not start lofty? Cal would have to go 12-1 or 11-2. The defense would have to take major leaps forward and give up somewhere around 20 to 30 points a game (as opposed to the customary, minimum, five touchdowns they gave up last season). Cal would have to vanquish all their traditional rivals.
I'm all for this. Let's do it!
That being said, that might not even be enough for Goff. Cal had an amazing 2004 season where they were ranked 4th for most of the season, and Rodgers and Arrington barely managed top ten on the ballot. Obviously it's a lot easier for Cal to get on TV these days and the media bias isn't as skewed east as it once was, but it's still very hard for a Pac-12 player to win the Heisman. You have to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field.
So if Cal doesn't have an amazing season, what else has to go on the table for Goff to win it?
2. Goff would have to put up astronomical statistical numbers.
Remember when Tim Tebow had a great season on a pretty middling Florida team? Or when Marcus Mariota had one of the greatest seasons of all time last year and blew up the Heisman ballot? Goff is going to need to do that, although unlike Tebow and Mariota, it might all have to come on the strength of his arm. So he's not only going to have to put up great passing numbers, but also be ridiculously efficient or precise in doing so. Think maybe 40 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, or some crazy stat like not throwing an interception at home, something along those lines. That kind of insanity might get Goff into the discussion.
3. College football would need a year of madness: Two loss playoff teams, no dominant teams, no dominant player, etc.
Ezekiel Elliott and whichever Ohio State quarterback wins the job would have to split the vote or get upset by Rutgers or something. Dak Prescott and Trevone Boykin would have to regress after remarkable seasons. The SEC would again have to offer no strong candidate, as would no traditional power. There are no real frontrunners for the award this year, so it's quite possible that Goff eventually sneaks into the picture if Cal takes that next leap in performance.
4. Goff would need a few signature performances.
Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III didn't take their teams to BCS bowls, but they came pretty close, and authored up some huge upsets and big moments along the way. Goff would almost certainly have to do the same, and hope the rest of the competition at quarterback isn't up to the task. Quarterbacks generally win the Heisman, and if Goff can stand head and shoulders above his competition, he's got a shot at it.
The only real teams Goff could influence are the ones in the Pac-12. He'd have to outduel Kessler at home on Halloween, pull off wins against at least two of Perkins and UCLA, Freeman and Oregon, and Foster and Arizona State. He needs some signature performances that distinguish him from anyone else while continuing to move upward in his efficiency.
Cal fans, what do you think it would take for Goff to win the Heisman next year? Give us your thoughts!