Toby Gerhart, Colt McCoy 120909
Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, left, and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, pose for photos during a media availability session prior to the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards in Lake Buena Vista , Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009. The awards will be presented on Thursday evening. (AP Photo/John Raoux) John Raoux

The only sure thing in voting for the Heisman Trophy is that all but one player’s “camp” is going to think you’re a blithering idiot.

You accept that and, to a large extent, ignore it.

You research the top players, track their progress and crunch a lot of numbers, from yardage and touchdown totals to completion percentages and average yards per carry.

Sometimes lost in the process is the most important statistic of all: wins.

That is, does a candidate help his team compete and contend for championships, or does he win, no matter the opponent and/or his personal stat line?

You may have guessed where this is headed.

In a season with no clear-cut favorite, yet several worthy candidates, it is reasonable to ask yourself: What separates Mark Ingram from Toby Gerhart or Ndamukong Suh or Tim Tebow … or Colt McCoy from all of them?

Wins.

McCoy, the Texas senior, has won more games as a starting quarterback than anyone in NCAA history. His record total of 45 includes 13 this year.

So while you can wring your hands over McCoy’s clunker in last week’s Big 12 Conference title game — 182 yards passing, no touchdowns and three interceptions in a 13-12 squeaker over Nebraska — the bottom line is unchanged.

Texas won, again, and will play in the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 7.

Much like pitchers in baseball or goaltenders in hockey, quarterbacks are judged foremost on wins and losses. McCoy stands tall in that regard, and while his other numbers may not wow you, or even be as good as last year, there is something to be said for the ultimate winner having a trophy in his hands Saturday night in New York.

He was No. 1 on this ballot, with Ingram, Alabama’s sophomore running back, No. 2 and Gerhart, Stanford’s senior running back, No. 3.

Yes, Alabama also is 13-0 and could well beat Texas in the BCS title game. And yes, Ingram has been terrific with 1,542 rushing yards and 15 TDs to go with 30 receptions for 322 yards and three scores.

Similarly, Gerhart has been superb with 1,736 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns for 8-4 Stanford.

That said, neither of them handles the ball on every offensive snap. McCoy does.

He has to prepare diligently, study defenses, change plays at the line of scrimmage, make quick decisions under fire and be the heart, soul and unquestioned leader of his offense.

Tebow, the 2007 Heisman winner, knows what that’s like, but while he had a fine season, his team is 12-1 and out of the national title picture.

McCoy will take 3,512 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions into the championship game. He has a 70.5 percent completion rate and also is the Longhorns’ No. 2 rusher (348 yards, 3 TDs).

If you scoff at those numbers, you’re not alone. Critics point to them and to McCoy’s rough night against Suh and Nebraska and disqualify him.

They forget that on Thanksgiving night, in a heated rivalry game on the road, he hoisted the Longhorns on his shoulders and refused to let them lose.

McCoy threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 175 yards and a TD in the 49-39 victory at Texas A&M. Granted, he did it against a suspect defense, but had he not been at his best, Texas’ national championship dream would have died on that raucous night in College Station.

Many of us believed McCoy should have won the Heisman last year, when he was runner-up to Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. That should have no bearing this season, but perhaps in the back of the mind, it does.

What is certain is if you prefer the big picture, and put a premium on winning, McCoy is your guy. If you don’t, you think I’m a blithering idiot.

Get in line.    

Randy Kindred is at rkindred@pantagraph.com. The Kindred Blog: www.pantagraph.com/blogs

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