They say history repeats itself. But that's usually over epochs and ages. Not usually with the same person in the same situation under totally different circumstances two years running.
Last year, Andrew Luck of the Stanford Cardinal produced a Heisman Trophy-worthy season. He led the Stanford Cardinal to an 11-1 record, a #4 ranking that ensured them a BCS bid, and was the general leader in the huddle that produced one of the most powerful offenses in college football. But he lost to the Oregon Ducks, spoiling an undefeated season, and he ended up losing to a quarterback who ended up producing more high caliber moments and big-time victories.
This year, Luck produced another Heisman Trophy-worthy season. He led Stanford to an 11-1 record, a #4 ranking that ensured them a BCS bid, and he led a team that was far less talented than the previous incarnation back to Tempe. But he lost to the Oregon Ducks, spoiling an undefeated season, and he could end up falling to a quarterback who produced more high caliber moments and big-time victories.
Cam Newton and now Robert Griffin III ended up with the better quarterbacking resumes. The Heisman Trophy ended up in Newton's hands, and it's likely that Griffin will see the same honor bestowed upon him tomorrow. Luck was great, Griffin was spectacular. He led Baylor to a top four finish in the Big 12, which happens once every Ice Age. Griffin knocked Oklahoma and TCU off with spectacular performances and was completing nearly 80% of his passes through September. He had the greatest moments, and that's why he'll probably take home the hardware tomorrow night.
As a result, Luck will probably end up second, again. Unfair, but that's how it'll end up working.
But before you brush off the Stanford quarterback as an afterthought, keep in mind what Luck has had to deal with. He lost his fullback in Owen Marecic and three of his big brutish offensive linemen to protect him. He lost his deep vertical threat in Doug Baldwin (and the underrated pass-catcher Ryan Whalen), was missing Chris Owusu and Zach Ertz the last month of the season, and was pretty much forced to throw to two tight ends and two young wide receivers the rest of the year.
Luck should have become more defendable as a result of these changes. Defenses could shrink the windows they usually defended against Luck and guard only 15-20 yards on the field while playing press coverage and bump receivers off their deep routes. Without the capability of a Marqise Lee or a Robert Woods to stretch the field, Luck often had to be methodical to keep his team going
Yet despite all these disadvantages, he still put up similar numbers to last season all across the board. Compare the 2011 numbers to 2010 and you'll see almost identical figures all across the board. Luck didn't miss a beat in his level of performance. He was that good .
Luck had to play in a seriously old-school offense the last few weeks, and needed to be perfect to keep Stanford winning. Which he nearly was (save a letdown performance by the entire team against Oregon). His team is headed to the Fiesta Bowl almost entirely because of his great accomplishments.
Andrew Luck might leave college without any of its ultimate prizes, but his moments in the game and his impact on the long-term development of Stanford football could be immeasurable in their worth. He'll be missed in college football and particularly the Pac-12, a throwback and a tribute to what amateur athletics was all about.
The Heisman is one big cluster of nonsense anyway, so maybe it makes sense that Luck doesn't win this. He'll have bigger prizes to capture down the line.