Weeden wants focus on No. 2 Cowboys, not his age
For Brandon Weeden, all the interest in his age is starting to get old.
The 28-year-old quarterback got a lot of Heisman Trophy chatter over the weekend when he threw for 423 yards and five touchdowns in Oklahoma State’s victory over Texas Tech while Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Boise State’s Kellen Moore both lost for the first time this season.
Weeden just wishes less of the attention was on how old he is. Weeden played five years of minor league baseball after high school, then started his college career at Oklahoma State. He said people have posted complaints on Twitter and he’s frequently peppered by questions about his age when someone new interviews him.
”On the ballot, there’s not an age requirement. It’s stupid. I’m so sick of hearing about it,” Weeden said. ”It’s one of those things. People need to find some new material. It’s getting old real quick.”
Weeden’s second-ranked Cowboys (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) head into Friday night’s game at Iowa State as one of only three undefeated teams left in the country, along with No. 1 LSU and No. 11 Houston. He has piled up 3,635 yards and 31 touchdowns with nine interceptions at the helm of the nation’s second-highest scoring offense.
”There’s just so many other questions you can ask other than being 28 years old,” Weeden said. ”Why can’t we talk about (All-American receiver) Justin Blackmon or the team winning games? That’s way more important than me being 28 years old.”
Weeden’s age is certainly a factor, though.
Coach Mike Gundy has repeatedly said he considers Weeden’s maturity to be a positive for his team since he’s been through the ups and downs of the minor leagues and doesn’t get rattled easily. He also lives a different life than most college athletes. He is married and lives off campus, and he is financially stable, thanks to his baseball contract.
Weeden has also graduated and his course load is light. He’s taking golf as one of his classes.
None of that makes him ineligible to win the Heisman Trophy.
Florida State’s Chris Weinke set the precedent for an older player winning the Heisman when at age 28 in 2000. No one else has been older than 23 at the time they won the award.
”I think he’s got an advantage being 28. … There was some people that thought he was too old to play, so now it’s kind of going the other way on him,” Gundy said. ”Until they rewrite the rule, I would say that everybody is fair game.”
According to research by STATS LLC, Weeden is one of at least 17 Bowl Subdivision players who are at least 25, though not all schools provide players’ birthdates in their media guides. Weeden even has a 26-year-old teammate in Tyler Johnson, a linebacker who also joined the Cowboys after a stint in the minor leagues.
There’s at least one player older than Weeden this season: Buffalo punter Peter Fardon, a 29-year-old senior from Australia.
”It’s legal. There’s been a ton of guys that have tried it,” Weeden said. ”We’re just fortunate. We’re winning a lot of games, so there’s a little bit more of a spotlight. So, if there’s any 25-, 26- 27-year-old guys out there that want to come give it a shot, do it. Quit complaining about it. Come try it.”
Case Keenum, the sixth-year senior quarterback for undefeated Houston, is 23. He redshirted in 2006 and then got a medical hardship waiver after injuring his knee last season. He is now busily breaking NCAA passing records.
Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville, who watched Weeden carve up his defense to go up 49-0 at halftime, compared Weeden to an offensive coordinator and said ”the young man was absolutely flawless.”
”We changed pretty much our whole defense going into that game,” Tuberville said. ”We were going to try to make him think in the pocket and have to come up to some answers to things that we were doing, and it didn’t take him long.”
After facing Weeden earlier this year in another blowout, Kansas offensive coordinator Chuck Long pointed out the proximity in age between Weeden and Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback of the Super Bowl champion and currently undefeated Green Bay Packers.
Weeden is about two months older than Rodgers and was also born before a handful of other NFL starting QBs.
”I’ve heard it 500 times,” Weeden said. ”We’re just 10-0, so we have a little bit more spotlight and people talk about it because we’re in the position we are. If we were 2-8, do you think people would talk about it? Probably not.”
Weeden has made the most of his strong arm, cool demeanor and thorough understanding of the Cowboys’ wide-open offense.
”I’m so comfortable with this offense and understand why we do certain things. I’m comfortable just getting us in and out of bad plays. … I understand that side of it,” he said. ”To sit here and say I could call plays like an offensive coordinator, there’s no way. But when I’m out there, I have a really good feel for what we’re trying to do in certain situations, so I think that helps.”
Weinke faced similar questions when he was closing in on the Heisman but his on-field numbers outweighed the ones on his birth certificate. Weeden said he was given Weinke’s phone number while he was deciding whether to return for his senior season or enter the NFL draft, but he has never made the call.
Only Keenum and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones are averaging more than Weeden’s 363.5 passing yards per game and he’s also among the top 10 quarterbacks in efficiency and completion percentage.
”It’s an honor to be even in a breath with some of the guys that are right there along with the award. Those guys are some of the best players in the country,” Weeden said. ”You take it in stride. You’ve got to keep winning. … The Heisman Trophy is for the best player in the country but it’s also for the teams that are winning games.
”So, to me, that just means we’re winning games and doing something special as a team.”