There's a simple reason so many people are pretending that Oklahoma freshman running back Adrian Peterson isn't the best player in college football. There's a simple reason Peterson will get cheated out of the Heisman Trophy.
If Peterson wins the Heisman and the Sooners win the national championship, everyone will have to admit there's no reason for Peterson, a freshman, to remain in college football for another two years. No one wants Peterson to achieve his goals “prematurely” because people fear that might set off a chain of events that could lead college football and the NFL down the same watered-down path as college basketball and the NBA.
The NFL doesn't want to face Adrian Peterson in an American courtroom battling over the league's draft-eligibility rules, particularly not after his freshman season. Next year, the threat of a year-long court battle with the NFL over its rules might scare Peterson into returning to OU for his junior season. Peterson, with a Heisman and national championship in hand, would be a far more difficult foe than Maurice Clarett, the Ohio State running back who took on the NFL and failed.
I bring this all up because this weekend, we get to participate in the little “game” that is being played with Peterson. We get to go out to Arrowhead Stadium, watch Peterson's Sooners take on the Colorado Buffaloes in the Big 12 title game and pretend that Peterson isn't the most amazing freshman we've ever seen and the best player in college football.
Heck, you can even delude yourself into believing that Oklahoma quarterback Jason White is the best player on the field. He won last year's Heisman Trophy. And it's likely that Heisman voters still convinced that their election of White a year ago was proper will swing the vote toward a Braylon Edwards or Alex Smith or Matt Leinart.
Nothing against Jason White, but there are 20 quarterbacks in the college game who could do what he's doing for the Oklahoma Sooners. White is just a shade better than Josh Heupel, the QB who led the Sooners to the 2000 national championship.
There's only one Adrian Peterson. As far as I can tell, we've only seen his combination of size, speed and instincts in one other back — Bo Jackson. But as a freshman, Bo wasn't nearly as polished as Peterson. Bo wasn't really a running back in high school. He was a defensive player. Peterson performs on Saturdays like he was born to run the football.
It will be a real tragedy if he's denied the Heisman Trophy.