Kirk Herbstreit: Despite suspension, Todd Gurley still Heisman candidate
Once Todd Gurley was indefinitely suspended on Oct. 9, for allegedly accepting money from memorabilia brokers his Heisman Trophy chances took a considerable hit.
Despite leading the SEC in rushing at the time of his suspension (and he still is No. 1) with 773 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, the majority of media members deemed the time missed by the star junior running back too significant to still be a viable Heisman Trophy candidate.
However, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit sees everything much differently.
In an interview with Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Herbstreit said he won’t factor in Gurley’s eligibility issue against him if returns soon for the Bulldogs.
“Not at all,” Herbstreit said to the AJC. “If he were to come back and dominate — what was he averaging, 8 yards a carry? — no I wouldn’t.”
If Gurley returns by the Florida game, that means he would have five games, including a marquee matchup against Auburn, to make a statement to Heisman Trophy voters.
For Herbstreit, as long as Georgia keeps winning and Gurley is on the field contributing in a major way, he sees no reason why Gurley shouldn’t still receive serious consideration for college football’s most prestigious individual award.
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“The big thing is Georgia’s got to keep winning,” Herbstreit explained. “If the keep winning, they have one loss… and he continues to be a dominant force, especially in a game like Auburn and then an SEC championship game… it’d be hard to imagine not being in the thick of things for the Heisman Trophy.”
“Me personally, with my one vote, I’d have no issue at all giving him that opportunity if he comes back.”
Herbstreit’s take on Gurley’s consideration for the Heisman Trophy certainly goes against popular opinion. Not often does a player still have a chance to win the award after missing two games during the season, especially if those two games are due to eligibility issues.
Georgia legend Herschel Walker took the opposite stance of Herbstreit when the former running back made an appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show last Thursday. In fact, Gurley’s off-the-field issues are a big reason why Walker’s vote as a former Heisman Trophy winner would not go to the star running back of his alma mater.
“Being an athlete is more than just playing the game. Being an athlete is about doing more,” Walker said. “Right at this moment, I cannot give Gurley my vote. If he comes back and I see a change then, that vote can be there. But at this time today, I cannot give them my vote.”
The length of Gurley’s suspension remains indefinite as the NCAA’s investigation into the matter is still ongoing. It’s hard to imagine, however, Gurley remaining a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy if he misses any more games for the Bulldogs.
UGA is on a bye this week before traveling to Jacksonville, Fla., to take on the Florida Gators on Nov. 1.