What if Heisman campaigns were fast-food franchises? Who'd have the best fries? Who would serve the frostiest shake?
Let's take a look at a few of the front-runners.
Tim Tebow = McDonald's
When you say fast food, your mind immediately thinks McDonald's. Try it. Fill in the following: (_blank_) hamburgers. How many of you said McDonald's? That's right.
Now do the same thing with the following: Heisman Trophy winner (_blank_). Raise your hand if Florida's Tim Tebow filled the blank. Yes, even you in the back, the Georgia fan. Put your hand all the way up.
Tebow is the face of the trophy. He is hailed as one of the best ever to play the college game, expected to guide his Gators to the third BCS title game in his four years in Gainesville.
He is the standard by which all others are judged. So is McDonald's.
So maybe the food isn't really all that special. So maybe McDonalds doesn't really do anything exceptionally well. It's still the king and will likely remain so.
Colt McCoy = Burger King
Burger King aspires to be McDonald's. Mickey D's has Ronald. BK rolled out the creepy King. Hamburgers at Burger King, particularly the Whopper, have an overall better taste than McDonald's.
Unfortunately, Burger King fries taste like fried Crisco sticks. McDonald's owns the fry business.
Given the choice of a good burger and nasty fries or a mediocre burger and superior fries, people will often choose the latter because the overall experience is superior.
Burger King burgers aren't good enough on their own to overcome the stank of the fries. Similarly, Tebow separates himself from Texas quarterback McCoy because he can run the ball like a bull.
McCoy is not a significant running threat. Like Burger King, McCoy does one thing really well, but he doesn't have the total package. He needs better fries.
Sam Bradford = Kenny Rogers Roasters
Remember Kenny Rogers Roasters? That was some good chicken. It was so good Seinfeld devoted an episode to Kramer's KRR addiction.
Tender roasted chicken and a cornucopia of sides including mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, pasta salad, and more made a delicious meal. Throw in a cake of sweet cornbread and a Kenny Rogers meal transcended fast food.
Unfortunately, Kenny Rogers is closed. If it were to reopen, maybe people would remember again just how good it was.
Oklahoma quarterback Bradford was good. Then he was injured against BYU. He's been shut down since. Maybe when he does come back, people will remember again why he won a Heisman Trophy last year.
Now if we could just get Kenny to spend less money on plastic surgery and more on restaurant revitalization.
Jimmy Clausen = Sonic
Everybody tries to tell you Sonic is good. Drive-in restaurants were all the rage in the '50s. So you go. And the food is, well, it's just average.
The burgers aren't as good as the King's. The fries aren't as good as McDonald's. You look around and realize you're eating in the utter discomfort and awkwardness of your own car. If you had nothing else to which to compare it, maybe Sonic would hit the spot. There are other choices.
Everybody tries to tell you Notre Dame quarterback Clausen is good, too. He's put up some decent numbers against some ridiculously suspect competition.
The Irish were all the rage back in the leather helmet days and the Golden Domers have been living off those dusty memories longer than Alabama fans have been groveling at the altar of the Bear. Drive-ins were super keen when Richie Cunningham was bopping to Wolfman Jack's AM radio show. Other than nostalgia, what do drive ins and the Irish really have to contribute over the last several decades?
Flashy neon signs and some cool commercials don't make your food any better. Just because you play for Notre Dame and don't stink up the field doesn't mean you're an automatic Heisman candidate.
Lou Holtz? You can sit down now.
Eric Berry = Whataburger
Whataburger has an orange logo and makes burgers that cause heartburn just from looking at them. Tennessee safety Eric Berry wears orange and causes occasional heartburn to opposing offenses.
When you're ticking off the list of possible places to eat, you have to go a long way down the list before you find yourself thinking Whataburger.
It takes even longer to get to Berry on the list of Heisman hopefuls.
Tony Pike = Chick-Fil-A
Nobody does a chicken sandwich better than Chick Fil A. Nobody. But that's all they do. If you want a burger you're out of luck.
Chick Fil A is a smaller franchise, not as well known nationwide as, say, McDonald's or Burger King.
Cincinnati's Tony Pike throws the ball well. Very well. But he plays for Cincinnati. He may be the best passer out there, but he's not going to overtake the bigger franchises who do a little more.
Jacory Harris = Fire House Subs
Hey, where'd they come from? Didn't Subway and Quiznos have the sub sandwich market covered? Who is this upstart?
Firehouse is tasty. The combinations are good. It takes a little from Subway and a little from Quiznos, adds its own twists and outdoes both. Firehouse isn't ready to take on the masters of the sandwich domain just yet, but it has a winning formula and could push hard enough to make the front runners uncomfortable eventually.
Sophomore Miami quarterback Harris has a good combination of running, passing, and smarts. He's not ready for the Heisman spotlight yet, but could be one to watch in the future.
Greg McElroy = Roly Poly Wraps
People who love Roly Poly wraps rave about them. Incessantly. Most of the rest of the fast-food eating world really doesn't care.
Alabama fans seriously consider their quarterback McElroy to be a Heisman darkhorse. His exploits are celebrated here and on Alabama blogs incessantly.
While they'd never admit it, Bama fans would love to have a Heisman winner. It sticks in their craw that there has never been one to hail from Tuscaloosa.
It's why every year at this time you hear two things: "As good as the 1992 defense.." and "Tyler Watts/Brodie Croyle/John Parker Wilson/Jay Barker/David Smith/etc. should be a Heisman contender."
Roly Poly isn't really fast food. McElroy isn't really in the Heisman conversation.
Chris Todd = Jack's Hamburgers
Okay, so Auburn's Chris Todd isn't on anybody's list of Heisman candidates. But if McElroy is mentioned, so too should Todd be mentioned.
The once-maligned Tiger signal caller is among the league leaders in yards and efficiency. Against competition that's comparable and in most cases superior to McElroy, Todd has better numbers.
When it comes to fast food, Jack's makes a better burger than Sonic. Their distinctive fries are better than Burger King. Even their chicken is good.
Why don't you know about Jack's? Because it's a regional chain. Few outside the South know about it.
Same with Todd. He was so ineffective during an injury-addled 2008 that most outside (and many inside) the Auburn core wrote him off.
Through five games, though, his stats match up well with anybody on the Heisman bubble. His team is also 5-0.