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Blog Entry

The Heisman Stranglehold

Posted on: November 23, 2008 12:19 pm
 

I know many people have noticed that it has been sometime since we have seen a number of non-QB players win the Heisman trophy.  Why is that?  Why is our college football culture so infatuated with QB's.  What has changed from the good ole days of power runners winning the award?  Since 2000, there has only been one non-QB win and that was only because Reggie Bush had an almost untouchable season. Who was on his coat tails most of the year though...Texas' Vince Young and Bush's teammate, and previous Heisman winner, Matt Leinart.  We need a return to the days when it wasn't automatically assumed that gaudy passing statistics equaled a Heisman mantel-piece.

2008 Assumptions...Let's assume that trends continue and this year's power players continue to produce.  With that in mind, this year's trophy will be awarded to another QB (Bradford, McCoy, Harrell or Tebow).  Even if someone from another position like Crabtree, Maclin, Rodgers or Ringer make a run here at the end, they will not have enough to overtake any of the previously mentioned QB's.

25 Year Analysis...With this year included (with the above assumptions), the last 25 years (1984-2008) have produced the following: 15 QBs, 7 RBs, 2 WRs and 1 CB.  In fact only one defensive player has ever won the award, but we'll go over that here in a little while.  Out of the 10 non-QB winners over this time period, every runner-up except one (1994 - K. Carter) has been a QB.  QBs have dominated the voting landscape since the mid 1980's and it appears to not change anytime soon.

25 Years Before That...From 1959 to 1983 there were 17 RBs, 1 FB, and 7 QBs who won the trophy.  The runner-up finishers during those years included 12 RBs, 9 QBs, 1 OL, 1 DL, 1 WR and 1 LB.  It showed the prowess of the power runners and demonstratred that the voters looked at a variety of positions for inclusion to the Heisman voting.  Why is this?

The "Woodson One"...Since 1935 when Jay Berwanger beat out Monk Meyer for the inagural distinction of the country's best player, there has been only one defensive player that has won this award.  This is an incredible thing to think about.  College football has seen players like Chuck Bednarik, Don Whitmire, Dick Butkus, Hugh Green, Brian Bosworth, Reggie White, David Pollack, among others and still only one defensive player has won.  In fact, since 1935 there have only been 20 total defensive players who have finished in the top 5 of the Heisman race.  That means that only 5% of all top five finishers have been a defensive player.  Only 5 of those 20 being in the top 2.  Try wrapping your head around this and you develop a migraine.

QB or not QB, That is the Question...In our country, it has become apparent that fans, media and the players themselves drool everytime they see a QB throw for 400-500 yards week in and week out, yet hand to the RB 5 times.  Not me my friends.  Many fans out there, that are also a fan of the NFL, play fantasy football.  In many leagues points are given less to QBs and WRs, than that of the RBs.  Why is this?  Probably because from the moment a RB touches the ball, they are left with the task of making a play much more individually than those other "offensive getters."  Of course, it takes an incredible line opening holes, WR/TE's making downfield blocks and the right play called at the right time, but if the RB is not talented, the play will amount to nothing anyway.  QBs have to rely that once they get the ball to their receiving corp, that that player turns upfield and continues to turn the play into a positive gain.

"The Running QB"...Here is where I will take an exception in this discussion.  Obviously, if there is a QB that is not only good through the air, but also on the ground, then he is more deserving of being the Heisman winner.  In the last couple decades we have had a few of these dual threat QBs, but not many.  If looking at the most recent 25-year period, like we did above, you could argue that the only true dual threat QBs were Eric Crouch and Tim Tebow.  You may even be able to throw Charlie Ward and Troy Smith's name in there if you want.  The argument against a player like Smith though is he did more with his legs earlier in his college career versus his Heisman year.  In 2005 he rushed for 611 yards and 11 touchdowns versus 233 yards and 1 touchdown in 2006.  Think about some of the great running/passing QBs over the past 10 or so years that have received Heisman votes, but did not get the ultimate prize...Vince Young, Michael Vick, and Brad Banks.  What would have happened if Dennis Dixon hadn't destroyed his knee last year?  In my opinion, one of the biggest debacles in this dual-threat category is the exclusion of Brad Smith during his time at Mizzou.  He was the first career 8000 yard passer and 4000 yard rusher.  He had two separate years where he threw for over 2000 and ran for over 1000.  The interesting thing about Brad Smith is that he never finished in the top 5 in his 4 years.

The Underclassmen Dilemma...As much as Tebow goes against all good things sacred to us Dawg alums/fans, it was fantastic to see an underclassmen break the "Heisman Ceiling" for the Freshmen and Sophomores.  There have been some incredible players when talking about these underclassmen.  In 1941, Angelo Bertelli became the first high finishing underclassman.  A few years later, the Army combo of Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard finished 2-3 in 1944.  Who won the '45 and '46 trophies...none other than that Army duo.  One of the most heralded underclassman, Herschel Walker, took the world by storm for 2 straight years, before winning the award in 1982 as a junior.  Most say that his freshman and sophomore years were better than that of his third, but that cieling got him.  One of the most recent badboys was Oklahoma's Peterson in 2004.  That year was incredible, but Leinart, a QB of course, got him in the end. 

Where am I going with all this?...We need the return of the non-QB Heisman winner.  One that epitomizes the essence of hard knock football.  I would love to see an offensive lineman get the award.  Not since Orlando Pace, has there been an O-lineman mentioned among the nation's elite.  I want to see more Freshmen and Sophmore contenders as well.  Well, I guess I will hope for next year's prospects to change the recent QB lull...

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