It's on the tip of every pundit's tongue across the country,
"Heisman Campaign? Bad idea."
In the era of self-promotion and inflated egos, where football players like to place area codes on their eye-black, sign footballs with a sharpie after scoring a touchdown, or perhaps even point out an opposing QB about to get leveled post-interception, one thing has become clear to the fans and the media: hype drives excitement—and in the information age, we want more of it available at our fingertips.
With the College Football season approaching, fans and media alike are becoming more and more interested in some straws to grasp at for a new angle, a new reason for optimism, and certainly a new reason for criticism.
Enter Florida State's push for senior quarterback Christian Ponder for the Heisman.
Critics would have you listen to dissections about how Ponder has not had a successful body of work in his three years under center. They would argue that his best season was not even a complete one, in which he threw a meager 14 touchdowns to his somewhat bloated seven interceptions.
Forget that the Heisman is an award bestowed on the most outstanding player in college football for any particular year. Much like you should forget that the award is typically awarded to a player who represents a National Championship-caliber team. Overlook the statistic that Ponder had arguably less weapons under a rusting Bowden administration than most of the country's premier players garnering Heisman consideration had, and throw out the notion that Ponder was in the top five in nearly every passing category through the first seven games of 2009.
None of this matters when nobody is listening.
In years past, nobody had to.
Florida State, from the early 1980s, had established itself as one of the premier teams in the country, and any question of "best player" would be determined simply by going to work—for the next 12 games. It worked for Charlie Ward, and it worked for Chris Weinke. It got Warrick Dunn in the conversation, as well as a cup of tea for Casey Weldon and coveted hardware.
But these days, attention is not given to the best player, but rather the best team or teams with the best player. Or players from each of the elite teams are garnering consideration.
It would be an overshot to say that FSU has no legitimate shot at making some waves as a perennial contender within the ACC, but to shine them on as a National Champion-level squad would be a bit unbecoming. It is fair to say, that at best, FSU could be a 10 or 11-win team this upcoming season.
FSU's media relations knows this.
The story doesn't end there.
Christian Ponder is more than just a talented "diamond in the rough" in Tallahassee. He is the antithesis of the position in which he plays. A legacy, following in dear old dad's footsteps (David Ponder, DT,) Christian is a Dean's List MBA Graduate who has easily dissected one of the most complex playbooks in all of college football in Jimbo Fisher.
Ponder spent his first seven games under Fisher in 2009 with a total of one, count it, one interception. With the pinball-like numbers he was forced to put up, in even his worst outing, Ponder was a lone bright spot on an offense just starting to emerge from it's cocoon.
Now, tell people around the country that Christian made all this noise last year with his 140+ QB rating. Nobody will listen. They're all too busy listening to their iPods, and watching their streaming videos to notice. That is, until now.
FSU's step into the nex-gen era is ushering into the 21st Century a glimpse—a glimpse at the future. Marketing players is not necessarily new, (see Joey Harrington and the Times Square Billboard, or DeAngelo Williams' Stock Car promotion,) but in the digital age, there is one thing to be certain, there is tremendous upside for a player like Christian Ponder, if, he can handle it.
When asked about the pressure of such a campaign, Christian's response was simple: "I already put so much pressure on myself that this is no big deal to me."
When a guy can accomplish an MBA in under three years of enrolling in college, I think many of us should take him at his word. Big deal or not—this may be the one character in a generation or so who can genuinely handle the added pressure...that is, unless he's putting too much on himself already.
Only time will tell for sure, but if it doesn't, I'm sure Christian will; either via twitter, Facebook, or cp7forheisman.com.