More than anything else, the Heisman Trophy is the by-product of an excellent and deserving candidate playing under the right circumstances with just the right level of promotion.
Temple's Paul Palmer was that back in 1986 (pictured).
The Owls' Bernard Pierce, who broke all of Palmer's freshman rushing records last year, certainly is that now.
People told Palmer he could not make a serious run for the trophy because he played at Temple.
Yet there he was at the New York Athletic Club on the day Vinny Testaverde got the trophy, right there as the deserving runner up. Palmer wore a neat brown suit with an Owl lapel pin and he was as deserving of the recognition as was Testaverde.
Not bad at all.
It was a great day for Palmer and for Temple University.
The only advantage the Palmer of 1986 had over the Pierce of 2010 is that Palmer played against what was then the No. 10 toughest schedule in the country and helped the Owls of Bruce Arians finish 6-5 against that schedule, beating the likes of Virginia Tech and East Carolina.
Yet Pierce will be on the field against Big East contender Connecticut and Big 10 contender Penn State, so he will have those kinds of chances, too.
What I'd like to see the university do for Pierce right now is nudge him toward the Heisman the way the SID office nudged Palmer. Get him into the conversation now, not after he rolls up, say, 514 yards and seven touchdowns against Villanova.
Back in 1986, the SID office put out a comic book with Palmer depicted as Superman. Back then, the SID office put Palmer on the cover of the 1986 Media Guide with the caption "Heisman Trophy candidate Paul Palmer" and the headline: Temple: the Philadelphia Team America's Watching.
Page Two included quotes from Don Nehlen, Joe Paterno, Dick MacPherson and others touting Palmer's ball-toting ability.
The only promotion I've heard for Pierce is a free schedule magnet.
As Derrick Coleman once said mockingly after being fined for missing a practice, "Whoopty damn do."
I don't see the same level of promotion right now for Pierce a couple of months before the season, but maybe the school is working with a couple of illustrators in New York City.
Then again, maybe not.
Don't give me any grief about this not being in the budget. Budget schmudget.
Do you know how much having a serious candidate for the Heisman Trophy does for the university's coffers in terms of attendance, TV revenue, etc.? This is a gold mine. Gold.
The 49ers (the gold-miners, not the football team) didn't walk away from Sutter's Mill because they didn't have the money for a pan.
That's why I'd like to see the university set the table for what I expect to be a terrific year for Pierce and the Owls by mounting a serious campaign now. Bang the drums hard.
Set off smoke signals.
If Pierce leads to the Owls to an upset win or two and helps them dominate the MAC, he will be right there in the conversation up until December.
If he does it after the kind of campaign Al Shrier's excellent SID office ran leading up to Palmer's senior season, he might have to start shopping for brown suits.
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