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GOULD: NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch as worthy of Heisman as anyone

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch ran for three second-half touchdowns Wednesday against Toledo keep Huskies unbeaten. | Rick Osentoski/AP

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch ran for three second-half touchdowns Wednesday against Toledo to keep the Huskies unbeaten. | Rick Osentoski/AP

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Updated: December 25, 2013 6:24AM



One of the neat things about the Heisman Trophy is that it’s not your average Most Valuable Player trophy.

Piling up numbers and stomping opponents is essential. But Heisman Trophy winners also are supposed to be ambassadors for their game, if we are to believe the Heisman Foundation’s 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.’’

In other words, if the police are asking you about troubling accusations made by a woman, you lose points on the integrity meter, legal charges or not. And if the NCAA suspends you for a half-game after concluding you didn’t sign autographs for money, that’s not great for your integrity rating, either.

Based on where the Heisman Trophy is trending this year, though, those transgressions pale by comparison to the real deal-breaker: If you play against lesser competition, you have no shot, no matter what you do.

As a result, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch has no chance to win the Heisman Trophy. Take it to the bank.

In the scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal. Lynch would be the first to tell you that winning games is what he’s all about. It is unfortunate, though, because his performances and his stats sure strike the pose.

In NIU’s last five games, he has rushed for 13 touchdowns and passed for eight more, with only one interception. He has rushed for 818 yards (163.6 a game). During that span, he has completed 89 of 117 passes (76 percent) for 1,085 yards (217 a game).

And the last two games were against Ball State and Toledo, which were a combined 16-4 when they faced the Huskies.

At 127.3 rushing yards a game, Lynch is 10th in the nation in rushing, the only quarterback among the top 32 in the country.

And what an eye test. It’s like a Hollywood movie, a football version of ‘‘The Natural.’’ Just dial up the second half of NIU’s 35-17 victory Wednesday at Toledo. With his two best receivers sidelined by injuries, Lynch ran for three touchdowns to break open a game in which the Huskies trailed 10-7.

Considering that this is all being accomplished by an undersized recruit who accepted the only offer he received to play quarterback in college, Lynch would seem to be what the Heisman Trophy is all about.

So what’s the problem? A Mid-American Conference schedule isn’t worthy. Even two road victories against Big Ten schools aren’t enough to make Lynch a viable Heisman candidate.

This raises this question: What would a player from a MAC school need to do to be judged Heisman-worthy? Given that his offensive production for an unbeaten team isn’t enough, maybe Lynch should stay on the field and make some interceptions and tackles for loss. And during the week, maybe he could solve Illinois’ pension crisis. Or at least find a cure for cancer.

Chances are, that wouldn’t matter, either.

The real bottom line is, because there’s no reason to think voters are going to change their ways, the Heisman Foundation ought to change its trophy description to something like this:

‘‘The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player FROM A POWER CONFERENCE. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance and hard work. The pursuit of excellence with integrity IS PREFERRED BUT NOT REQUIRED.’’

Winning games at Tuscaloosa and Clemson are great achievements. Leading NIU to the brink of the Fiesta Bowl, on top of a trip to the Orange Bowl, is monumental.

But not, apparently, monumental enough.



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