Heisman Trophy: Prestige or Farce?

John C. Sease, Jr.Correspondent INovember 26, 2008

We are almost at the end of another college football season and the "end-of-the-year" individual awards will be granted to the best players at their respective positions.

Each year, there are many trophies that are awarded: The Davey O'Brien Award for best quarterback, The Doak Walker Award for the best running back, The Fred Biletnikoff Award for best receiver, The Outland Trophy for best lineman, and many more for other specialized positions.

Historically, the most prestigious award has always been the Heisman Trophy because it has been designated the award that is supposed to be granted to the best college football player in the land. If this were accurate, then the Heisman Trophy would indeed be considered the most prestigious award. However, it is not accurate by any measure.

Instead of being labeled the award for the best college player in the land, the Heisman Trophy should be renamed the following: “The Player at an Offensive Skilled Position (i.e QB, RB and WR) with the best statistical season that also plays on a winning team!”

The aforementioned label would be more accurate because the Heisman Trophy is rarely granted to the best player in the land. Let’s face it, a defensive lineman, offensive lineman, tight end, safety, fullback, or defensive back will never win the award for their efforts, even though one of them could be the best player in the land.

There are those that would argue that Charles Woodson won the trophy as a defensive back, but let’s be real. We have to acknowledge that he never would have won that award if he also did not star on the offensive side of the ball at wide receiver; scoring multiple touchdowns on special teams didn't hurt either.

The reality is that the Heisman Trophy is nothing more than an extension of the Davey O'Brien, Doak Walker, and Fred Biletnikoff Awards because only a quarterback, running back and an occasional wide receiver will ever win the award.

Also, if you are on a losing team, then you might as well forget the award because you won’t be considered. The lone exception there is Paul Hornung, who won the award despite playing for a losing Notre Dame team.

This has always puzzled me because the voters are equating team success with an individual award; this makes no sense at all! 

Finally, the fact that the voters base part of their decision on team success taints the award because, in that case, the individual statistics are often helped by the quality of players surrounding the Heisman hopeful. 

We all know that the best statistical player does not necessarily correlate to being the best player. For instance, Emmitt Smith holds the record for most rushing yards all-time in the NFL, but very few people would name Emmitt Smith in their top three all-time running backs in the NFL. 

That analogy holds true for college football. Someone having monster statistics could be directly correlated to the fact that they have eight All-America players on offense playing alongside of them on Saturdays.

If the New York Downtown Athletic Club and the slew of Heisman voters want to give validity to this award, then they should stop proclaiming the award to be for the best college football player in the land.

They need to refer it as “The Player at an Offensive Skilled Position (i.e QB, RB and WR) with the best statistical season that also plays on a winning team!”

Now THAT would be an accurate description of the award!