Why the Heisman Trophy Is a Joke

Bleacher Report Senior Analyst INovember 16, 2007

http://www.dkimages.com/discover/previews/777/142311.JPGThe Heisman Trophy is turning into a joke.

There, I said it.

Sure, there's a lot of hype around the award—but it's no longer given to the "most outstanding college football player."

Gone are the days of Paul Hornung, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1956 despite playing for a 2-8 Notre Dame squad.

Gone also are the days of Andre Ware, who won the Heisman in 1989 despite failing to lead his 9-2 Houston Cougars to a bowl game.

Instead, welcome the new generation of Heisman winners—the best players on the best teams.

Don't believe me?

Since 2000, only one Heisman winner has failed to play in the BCS National Championship Game—Carson Palmer in 2002.

Nowadays, Heisman voters are swayed by marketable attributes: Matt Ryan's boyish good lucks, Dennis Dixon's baseball-filled summer, comparisons between Tim Tebow and comic book characters.

I like those human interest angles just as much as the next guy, but enough is enough. I'm tired of the Heisman being handed out as part of a pre-bowl season PR blitz.

Chris Weinke ('00), Eric Crouch ('01), and Jason White ('03) were all amazing collegiate players. They each had good stats and all led their teams to BCS title games.

But does that alone qualify any of them to forever be remembered as any season's most outstanding player?

I think not.

Icon Sports MediaRemember a guy named LaDainian Tomlinson from TCU? L.T. had 2,158 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior, and single-handedly led his 10-2 Horned Frogs to their best season since 1938. 

And yet he finished fourth in the Heisman balloting, behind Weinke, Josh Heupel, and Drew Brees.

And remember who played in that 2000 National Championship Game? 

That's right: Florida State and Oklahoma—led by Weinke and Heupel.

Is the picture clear yet?

Take the top two teams. Add to those top teams two boring white guys who happen to be seniors. They don't run, and they can't scramble. Instead, they let the Anquan Boldins of the world do most the work while they sit back and count stats.

Throw in a top BCS ranking and you've got yourself a pretty good modern Heisman campaign.

And don't worry—there's no need to post a promotion billboard in Times Square à la Joey Harrington.

The stuffy journalists will promote you for free, so long as you smile and politely answer questions.  

I'm not suggesting that the Heisman Trophy is rigged, and I'm certainly not suggesting that racism plays a role in balloting. 

But facts are facts—the 870 journalists who deliver the 924 Heisman ballots look for that "certain something"...that marketable aspect.

Unfortunately for them, this year's Heisman race has been turned upside down.

First of all, there's still no telling who will play in the BCS Championship Game, so the "best player on the best team" ideology has gone completely out the window. 

Secondly, the players with the most marketable attributes—Ryan, Dixon, and Tebow—all play for teams with at least two losses.

Icon Sports MediaAs a result, names like Brennan, Harrell, White, Slaton, Crabtree, Reesing, Bradford, McFadden, and Daniel are all creeping into the Heisman debate.

I've heard arguments against players from the pass-happy offenses of Hawaii and Texas Tech...but how can one explain Crouch winning the Heisman then? 

Did he not play in a nontraditional offensive system? 

And what about Pat White? He's loved by many fans and journalists (including myself), but he quarterbacks an unbalanced offense.

It seems as if the door isn't swinging both ways here—and that the Heisman balloting has become a little elitist for my taste.  

And what about that vehicle sponsorship—"The Heisman Trophy presented by Nissan"?

Come on. John Heisman himself must be turning over in his grave. 

Look, I'm not here to save the Heisman Trophy. I'm just here to point out where the trends are headed—something the major sports broadcasters and journalists refuse to do.

After all, the Heisman Ceremony is broadcast on ESPN.

I'm just telling it like it is.


You can catch the live broadcast of the Heisman Ceremony presented by Nissan on December 8th on ESPN.


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