Friedlander: If Jordan Travis is as important as they're making him out to be, give him the Heisman Trophy
I am a Heisman Trophy voter, and I am sworn to secrecy about my selections until the winner is announced in New York on Saturday night.
But I am at liberty to divulge this bit of information.
The player I should have voted for wasn’t on my ballot.
Unfortunately, I submitted it Sunday morning before College Football Playoff committee chairman Boo Corrigan, Kirk Herbstreit and all his fellow SEC apologists began making a compelling case for by far the most consequential player on the face of the earth.
Not just this season. But maybe in our lifetime.
It’s a shame the Heisman Trust won’t let you have your ballot back to make changes after you hit the send button,
Better yet, forget the voting. Just go ahead and give the damn thing to Jordan Travis.
According to those trying to justify Florida State’s exclusion from the Playoff, the star quarterback’s season-ending injury against North Alabama on Nov. 18 is the only reason the Seminoles are now the first undefeated Power 5 conference champion not to be included in the 4-team national championship bracket.
Committee chairman Corrigan came right out and said it himself.
“You look at who they are as a team without Jordan Travis,” the NC State athletic director said during a weak post-selection interview with ESPN. “They are a different team.”
Boo Corrigan, the chair of the College Football Playoff committee, explains why they chose Alabama over Florida State: pic.twitter.com/17yNkBhRuZ
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) December 3, 2023
Never mind that the Seminoles went 2-0 without their star. Or that their margin of victory in those games was larger than that of 1-loss Alabama, the team that replaced them in the Playoff field, over the same span.
And that their elite defensive unit allowed only 1 touchdown to an SEC opponent and a team ranked 15th in the nation with an offense averaging 31 points per game.
If Travis’ absence from the lineup made such a big difference, why did the committee bump his team up from 5th to 4th in the rankings after its regular-season finale against Florida? Only to have it leapfrogged by not 1, but 2 teams the following week despite beating Louisville for the ACC championship.
The actual answer is that the committee had to do something to get an SEC team into the field after Alabama upset No. 1 Georgia in its conference title game. And because the Crimson Tide lost its head-to-head matchup against Texas earlier in the season, the Longhorns had to come along for the ride to justify the pick.
Leaving FSU as the odd team out.
But if the apologists want to play the “not the same team” game, so be it.
Let’s go all in.
According to the Heisman Trophy website, the award is presented annually to “the most outstanding player in college football,” with the winner epitomizing “great ability, combined with diligence, perseverance and hard work.”
Travis certainly has the ability.
He completed 64% of his passes for 2,756 yards and 20 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions. He also ran for 7 scores on his way to being chosen as the ACC’s Player of the Year despite missing the better part of FSU’s final 3 games.
In the Seminoles’ season-opening win against LSU, his numbers were nearly identical to that of the Tigers’ Jayden Daniels, the heavy favorite to win the Heisman come Saturday evening.
Travis completed 23-of-31 passes for 342 yards and 4 touchdowns while also rushing for a touchdown on Labor Day Sunday while leading his team to an impressive 45-24 victory while Daniels was 22-of-37 for 346 yards, but only 1 score.
But beyond the raw numbers, his “diligence, perseverance and hard work” were the key elements to FSU’s success.
The ESPN analyst laid it on thick Sunday by portraying Travis as the Seminoles’ “guts, their pulse, their heart and soul.”
He’s not wrong, of course.
Travis is the glue that holds it all together. And he continues to be even while on crutches, as he showed in an emotional pregame speech to his teammates before their rivalry win at Florida.
But to portray him as the sole reason for the team’s undefeated record and suggest that the Seminoles are incapable of competing at the highest level without him is a disservice to the abundance of talented players who surrounded him. Many of whom will be playing in the NFL as early as next season.
What’s worse, Travis had to sit there surrounded by those teammates on Sunday listening to a bunch of adults with an agenda blaming their disappointment on his physical condition.
The narrative that this is somehow his fault made the kid feel so lousy that he felt the need to apologize on social media, going so far as to write that he wishes his “leg broke earlier in the season so y’all could see this team is much more than the quarterback.”
devastated. heartbroken. In so much disbelief rn, I wish my leg broke earlier in the season so y’all could see this team is much more than the quarterback. I thought results matter. 13-0 and this roster matches up across any team in those top 4 rankings. I am so sorry. Go Noles!
— Jordan Travis (@jordantrav13) December 3, 2023
Talk about adding insult to injury.
Travis wasn’t going to win the Heisman even if he hadn’t gotten hurt. Most likely, he wouldn’t have even been a finalist, a honor that went to Daniels, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., Oregon’s Bo Nix and Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr.
But if he is so important to his undefeated team that his absence is the reason it’s being denied the opportunity it earned to play for a national championship, then maybe we should revise those ballots.
Better yet, just invite Travis to New York and give him the trophy.
It’s the least that can be done for a player of such consequence.