First off, read the article. This is a pure hypothetical question that is meant to make you choose. Do not cop out and tell me “Well if we win the title, that likely means Grier wins the Heisman”. You are correct but in this scenario we are talking about exclusivity: either Will Grier puts up an amazing season that leads to his Heisman Trophy but West Virginia Mountaineers lose the Big 12 Championship Game or Grier stumbles once or twice, enough to cost him the trophy but the Mountaineers win the Big 12.
Pick One And Only One
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WVU Big 12 Champions
More than likely, for Will Grier to win the Heisman Trophy, he is going to have to do a few things: throw for 4,300+ yards, put up 40+ touchdowns, beat the Oklahoma Sooners in primetime, and lead West Virginia to a 10+ win season. That would be a fantastic season for the Mountaineers but it does not guarantee they would win the conference. For this scenario, let’s assume they make the conference championship game but lose to their opponent, say the Oklahoma Sooners, in a rematch. The loss knocks the Mountaineers out of title picture but as regulation, West Virginia becomes a New Years Six team and plays in the Sugar Bowl.
For me, people remember Heisman Trophy winners. It is a starting point of conversation when you talk about college football. Who won the Big 12 in 2001? Can you quickly pull that information up in your head? Now, what about Heisman Trophy winners, who won the Trophy in 2001. Eric Crouch. Who won in 2003? Jason White. Those names become synonymous with college football lore. They are considered the best players of that season.
Even more, I fully believe that recruits pay attention to individual trophies, especially the Heisman Trophy, over conference championships. In 2011, Baylor Bears Robert Griffith III propelled his team to a 9-3 record (they did not win the Big 12) and it led to him becoming the Heisman Trophy winner. 2012 saw Baylor regress to 7-5, but in 2013-2015 Baylor rattled off 32 wins and put itself into the national conversation. The trophy helped bring in the recruits that would take Baylor to the next level.
I voted for Grier on this with my thinking being that the long term payoff would be bigger for us in getting stronger future recruiting classes. I think recruits would covet coming to a school that’s produced a Heisman more than a conference championship. #HailWV https://t.co/L0en34mq4u— Joe Staffileno (@Michiganeer) June 2, 2018
I'm in the minority so far, but WVU has multiple conference titles and no Heisman winners. My logic at least.— Ben Safer (@TheSaferMan) June 2, 2018
I feel like a Heisman begets you conference titles. A conference title doesn’t beget you a Heisman. Look at Baylor. RGIII wins Heisman and they go on to dominate.— Jake Lantz (@NiteStare) June 2, 2018
Big12 Or Bust
The flip side of this argument is the elusive Big 12 title. A Big 12 title puts West Virginia in contention for the ultimate prize, a national championship. A “natty” is the ultimate goal and the thing that will be most remembered when you, I and everyone else is long gone. It is more important than a Heisman Trophy and it is the reason that Bill Stewart was forced out as Mountaineer head coach.
“I didn’t believe we had an opportunity to win a national championship with the direction of the program,” Luck said. “At the end of the day, results matter. And we weren’t getting the results. - Oliver Luck, December 2010
Regardless of everything else, winning a national title will elevate this program. In the current era of college football, to be in contention for a national title you most likely need to win your conference. Alabama Crimson Tide proved last year that isn’t always the case, but I would say you shouldn’t refer to Alabama, especially under the Nick Saban era, as anything other than mythological because they are doing things that won’t be seen for a LONG time.
For the rest of college football, in order to be in the Top 4 of the College Football Playoff rankings, you need to win your conference title game. Winning that game and having zero or one loss gives you a chance to play two more meaningful games. Winning the college football playoff will give you a level of exposure that cannot be measured. Recruits take notice. Clemson Tigers is a great example of this.
2011: Their recruiting class ranked 10th overall. They signed three 5-star prospects.
2012: Their recruiting class ranked 20th overall. They signed zero 5-star prospects.
2013: Their recruiting class ranked 15th overall. They signed one 5-star prospect.
2014: Their recruiting class ranked 16th overall. They signed zero 5-star prospects.
2015: Their recruiting class ranked 9th overall. They signed three 5-star prospects.
2016: Their recruiting class ranked 11th overall. (They made the Championship Game this year). They signed one 5-star prospect.
2017: Their recruiting class ranked 16th overall. (They won the Championship this year) They signed two 5-star prospects.
2018: Their recruiting class ranked 7th overall. They signed five 5-star prospects including the #1 overall prospect in Trevor Lawrence and the #3 overall prospect (and #1 defensive end Xavier Thomas). Their current class includes the #3 ranked wide receiver.
Winning the championship in 2017 led to their boon in recruiting in 2018. That boon could pay almost immediate dividends as reports are trending that Trevor Lawrence is the real deal. If you want to immediately improve the Mountaineers recruiting, you need to win the National Championship and that starts with winning the conference.
B12 title carries a very high probability of making the playoff & shot at a natty, which has bigger advantages moving forward in recruiting other positions and competing consistently... it also in all likelihood extinguishes ghosts of not being able to beat OU in this league— beckett929 (@beckett929) June 2, 2018