Top Five Heisman Busts of the Last 20 Years

Ingram WorleyCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2008

With the 2008 presentation of the Heisman (maybe soon to be named Tebow) Trophy in a few days, my thoughts were drawn to the snubbing of Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell. 

My first thought was to put together a list of the most glaring omissions from the award ceremony itself, but then I thought of a better idea.

After all, Harrell has a chance to move on to the NFL and prove to everyone that he should have been included.  His career is ahead of him.  I believe that most would agree that he has the skills to play at the next level.

However, my thoughts turned to those who actually took home the little gold statue.  Specifically the ones who won the trophy and then busted like Don Johnson's singing career (anybody remember "Heartbeat"?). 

So listed below are my top (or bottom) five biggest Heisman busts.  Most were deserving winners at the time, but we will always wonder why they could not take it to the next level.


5. Chris Weinke, QB, Florida State (2000 Winner)

Weinke is perhaps the only Heisman winner that is remembered more for his age than for his ability on the field.  Somehow he convinced the NCAA that a 46-year-old man could still play collegiate football.  And he played it well. 

He was an incredibly efficient quarterback at FSU, and led his team to a national title in 1999, the year before he took home the Heisman.

In the NFL, Weinke, to put it mildly, did not enjoy the same success.  He has what may be the worst record for a starting quarterback who played a minimun of one full season (1-15). 

The Panthers did not see improvement on the horizon and cut bait.  Although he hung around as a backup in the league for a number of years, he will go down in history as a Heisman bust.


4. Rashaan Salaam, RB, Colorado (1994 Winner)

Although he was one of the most productive backs of the decade, Salaam had problems that would haunt him once he reached the NFL. 

The first problem was the inability to hold on to the football.  The second problem was the inability to say no to just about any drug known to man.

Salaam became a cautionary tale to NFL camps.  A productive back in a gimmick-filled offense did not exactly translate into a franchise NFL back. 

After multiple suspensions, Salaam exited stage left, and resurfaced in the action-packed XFL.  Any Heisman winner who played in a league created by Vince McMahon was a shoo-in for this list.


3. Jason White, QB, Oklahoma (2003 Winner)

White was one of the more decorated college quarterbacks in the game.  After an injury-riddled two seasons in Norman, White threw for 40 touchdowns and 8 picks en route to the 2003 Heisman.  After being granted an extra year of eligibility due to "medical hardships", White was a finalist again in 2004.

That was the last of the good news.  NFL scouts saw no potential, and White went undrafted, and had trouble even getting a tryout in the league.  Eventually the Chiefs and Titans gave him a look, but he never took a snap in the NFL.  On the bright side, he does own an Athlete's Foot shoe store.


2. Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska (2001 Winner)

Although Crouch had to battle for playing time for the majority of his career at Nebraska, he eventually became a dynamic player for the Cornhuskers. 

He was known probably more for his running ability, but put up impressive enough numbers through the air to win the 2001 award.

NFL teams were all in agreement that Crouch was not to be an NFL quarterback.  He was too short and did not have the required arm strength.  He was originally drafted as a wide receiver, but he never relinquished the desire to play QB. 

He was given a look at the position by Green Bay, but this was a failure as well.  Eventually, Crouch ended up as a safety in the NFL Europe.  Apparently, quarterbacks need to be tall there, too.


1. Gino Torretta, QB, Miami (FL) (1992 Winner)

Torretta was another in a long list of superstar Miami quarterbacks.  His gaudy numbers in 1991 led Miami to a national title. 

He threw for over 3,000 yards in his senior season to lock up the Heisman for that year.  As we know, the Heisman is presented before the playing of the bowl games.

The No. 1 and heavily favored Hurricanes faced Alabama in the 1993 Sugar Bowl in the "pre-BCS" National Championship game. 

This may have been when Torretta was "exposed."  The Alabama defense dominated, and Miami was held to six offensive points in a 34-13 blowout loss.

I do not know if this had any bearing on his falling draft status, but he was not taken until the seventh round by the Vikings.  He did not take one snap for the Vikings that year, as was the case in the following year with Detroit. 

After a brief stint in the NFL Europe, Torretta made it back to the NFL with a spot on Seattle's roster.  He finally got a chance to throw his first NFL pass in 1996. 

So there you have it, my personal list of Heisman busts.  You will not find any of these "busts" in Canton.


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