Graham Harrell and Five Other Heisman Trophy Snubs

Kenny CruteCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2008

The Heisman Trophy ceremony for 2008 will be held tomorrow. One problem, one of the best athletes in college football this year will not be in attendance.

Graham Harrell, Texas Tech's Sr. QB, who threw for nearly 4,800 yards this year while completing almost 70 percent of his passes was not even invited to the ceremony as a finalist.

The fact that the Heisman voters have created yet another controversy this season proves that the best player doesn't always win the award.

Every fan of college football knows that only one player can win the Heisman Trophy in a given year. We also know that not every player who gets votes for the award will be invited to New York as a finalist.

What fans of the game do not know is how in the name of St. Sebastian (patron saint of athletes) a player with superior stats than the other finalists is not even invited to the award banquet!

Here are a few more memorable Heisman Trophy "snubs":


5. Adrian Peterson was a freshman at Oklahoma University in 2004, and put together one of the best seasons in college football history.

Peterson rushed for nearly 2000 yards (1925) and scored 15 touchdowns. Two scores better than the trophy winner that year (Matt Leinart).

The Heisman committee and voters stuck to their long standing tradition of not giving the award for best player to a freshman. 


4. In 1992, Marshall Faulk began his assault on football record books, redefining the role and utilization for the position of running back. All purpose yards were fun to debate but not a front line stat until Faulk.

At San Diego State University in '94, Faulk and his Aztec teammates managed a mediocre 5-5-1 record. Faluk had season personal bests in rushing yards (1630) and receiving yards (390), all while being sidelined for three regular season games with an injury.

Faulk appears to be a victim of another Heisman tradition—if the team does not win enough games, the player is not awarded the trophy.

Faulk played against the eventual winner that year (Gino Torretta), where SDSU was thrashed by a powerful Miami Hurricane team 63-13.


3. In 2002, one player made a clean sweep of the other prestigious awards in college football. This player was awarded the Doak Walker award (best running back), the Maxwell award (top player), and the Walter Camp award (top player).

After posting a 2,000 yard season on 250 carries for an eye-popping 8.02 yards per carry, Larry Johnson was third in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy.

Johnson, who played at Penn State, did not have the benefit of a Heisman campaign, a practice in which the school the athlete plays for trumpets the prowess of their star in hopes of securing the award for their man and university.

Johnson's coach, Joe Paterno has never favored self-promotion or individual accolades for his players, rather a philosophy that embodies team before self. At Penn State, there is no Heisman campaigning, no trophy for L.J.


2. Like Marshall Faulk, LaDainian Tomlinson was the definition of "all-purpose back" during his time at Texas Christian University. In 2000, Tomlinson compiled one of the greatest statistical seasons in college football history.

"LT" rushed for 2,158 yards, 22 touchdowns and had 354 yards receiving. LaDainian's dynamic running style and incredible numbers were not enough to sway Heisman voters into making him the recipient that year.

Chris Weinke, a 26-year-old QB from Florida State was the eventual winner. Weinke and the 'Noles captured the National Championship by defeating a freshman phenom, Mike Vick, and Virginia Tech.


1. The discussion of Heisman voter bias against freshmen winning the award should begin and end with the performance turned in by Herschel Walker in 1980.

Walker rushed for 1,616 yards with four 200-yard games, had 1,805 all purpose yards and 15 touchdowns. Herschel and the underdog Georgia Bulldogs also won their first National Title by beating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, 17-10.

Even with a superior statistical season and National Title win, Walker was not awarded the Heisman Trophy, which went to George Rogers of South Carolina.

College football fans will always have spirited debate on which player is the best in a given season. Stats and facts never bear out which athlete truly contributes the most to his team.

With an award as subjective as the Heisman Trophy, where the criteria for the winner is not etched in stone, there will always be debate.

Graham Harrell should take note that only a select few trophy winners who played quarterback went on to enjoy similar success at the pro level. It may be a small consolation prize in a few months for a player who at least deserved to be in the conversation.

This year's finalists all have an argument to be proclaimed the Heisman Trophy winner, but with all due respect to Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, and Tim Tebow, sometimes the voters just get it wrong.