Lynch deserves Heisman invite despite MAC loss

By Mike Romor

Despite putting together an extremely humanlike and untimely performance in NIU’s MAC Championship loss, Jordan Lynch still deserved his invitation to New York for the Heisman Ceremony, where he will sit beside some of the other top players in college football.

Whether he won the MAC Championship or not, Lynch wouldn’t have won the Heisman unless charges were filed against FSU quarterback Jameis Winston. Even then, Lynch would have had to shake off the image that he plays in a mediocre conference and faces low-level competition.

Now that Winston’s legal issues have vanished and NIU lost a few days before Heisman ballots had to be submitted, Lynch’s stock has taken a hit. He received first place votes in the Heisman Straw Poll last week, but that was before the team’s loss. Now, according to the same poll, he is still in second, but barely ahead of Johnny Manziel. In USA Today’s similar poll, he ranks fifth in the voting.

Being undefeated and having strong performances late in the season infinitely affect the Heisman rankings. While Lynch fails to meet those standards, he stands in good company; outside of Winston, nearly every other candidate has suffered the same fate.

Realistically, Lynch has little to no chance of winning at this point; however, he does have a legitimate chance of finishing second in the voting, which would speak volumes about the impact he has made this season and would be an epic success. After last season’s seventh place finish, Lynch proved most media wrong.

He started the season nowhere near the top of Heisman watch lists, but his hard work and clean image propelled him to the top five of the Heisman race by late November. Not only did he break NCAA records and win games; he also projected himself as a role model instead of a celebrity.

Assuming the overwhelming majority of voters did not completely abandon Lynch after the MAC Championship loss, which the USA Today poll contends, he should end up included on ballots as a second or third place finisher.

Because of the inconsistency across the board of candidates, Lynch likely sits in a large group of contenders who have each received a great deal of second place votes. This would be a true accomplishment for Lynch, who has emerged as one of college football’s toughest and grittiest players.

He won’t win the Heisman at this point, but he deserves all the recognition he has received over the past month. To take Friday’s loss and penalize Lynch in the polls more than other candidates after their losses would be a travesty.

Second place is right where Lynch belongs. That is where he stood before the Bowling Green contest and is where he should be standing come Saturday’s announcement. Winston deserves the Heisman, while Lynch deserves the respect he has earned.

It remains to be seen how voters finalized their ballots, but a plane ticket to New York is just part of the respect Lynch has fought to receive. Lynch deserves to be the runner-up, even with Friday’s loss. Lynch finished the fight he started last season, massacring NCAA record books and leading a MAC school on yet another improbable journey.

If Lynch finishes as the runner-up in this year’s Heisman race, it might not be a monumental moment in NCAA history, but it would never be forgotten by the NIU community. It would only cement his legacy. Second place is first place in this case.