Striking the Pose: Ranking the Last 10 Heisman Trophy Winners
As the presentation of the Heisman Trophy nears I believe it is only necessary to rank the last 10 Heisman Trophy winners. Yes, that includes Reggie Bush. A panel submitted their rankings as if they were voting for a regular ballot, with 10 finalists.
The statistics and awards from that single year are all that are taken into account. Although it is an individual award a lot of the team's success is factored into the rankings. The rankings reflect how each player performed when it was crucial and if the player had the "Heisman moment" or just the "it" factor.
Although these rankings were the product of ballot voting, I will be providing a summary/opinion of each player's Heisman winning year and I am sure my feelings will shine through if my ballot was drastically different.
Thanks to all who submitted a ballot!
Let the debate begin...
10. Jason White: 2003
2003 Stats and Awards
- 61.6 Completion Percentage
- 158.1 Quarterback Rating
- 3,846 yards passing - 40 TD 8 INT
- Davey O'Brien Award, AP Player of the Year
Jason White has a national championship ring, in 2000, as the backup to Josh Heupel. Yes it seemed Jason White was in college forever, but he scorched defenses in 2003.
However, he may be best remembered for running every play from the shotgun formation, laying the groundwork for Sam Bradford's 2008 campaign. He was as immobile as a Cadillac on cinder blocks. The similarities in Jason White's 2003 Heisman and Eric Crouch's 2001 Heisman are hard to ignore. They both lost their last 2 games. White's included a 35-7 shellacking at the hands of Kansas State, and he was stifled in the BCS National Championship game by an unrelenting LSU defense that held the Heisman Trophy winner to 13 of 37 passing for a measly 102 yards.
The Heisman runner-ups were named Larry Fitzgerald (Biletnikoff and Walter Camp Award winner) and Eli Manning (Maxwell Award winner), making White's year lose some weight, although it shouldn't. He put up tremendous numbers, but if you asked me back in 2003, I still would have went with Fitzgerald.
9. Eric Crouch: 2001
2001 Stats and Awards
- 55.6 Completion Percentage
- 124.31 Quarterback Rating
- 1,510 yards passing - 7 TD 10 INT
- 1,115 yards rushing - 15 TD
- Davey O'Brien Award, Walter Camp Award
Much like Jason White, Eric Crouch also has a National Championship ring, just not as a starter. He was part of the 1997 squad that shared the title with Michigan in Tom Osbourne's finale. 2001 was a record-breaking season for Crouch with the Huskers, passing one of the most dynamic players college football has ever seen, Tommie Frazier.
That being said, his team was completely annihilated by Colorado and then destroyed by Miami in the BCS National Championship. Just like White, Crouch lost his last 2 games of his Heisman campaign.
He edged out Rex Grossman and the Quarterback that would beat him in the BCS Championship, Ken Dorsey in the closest vote since Bo Jackson won the award in 1985.
He did have something Jason White didn't have; a Heisman Moment. Against Missouri, Crouch scrambled to escape from the entire Tiger defense to pull off a 95-yard touchdown run which was the longest in school history.
Crouch was a heck of an athlete, but arguments could and have been made that Rex Grossman deserved that award, if not Ken Dorsey who was leading the best team in the nation. If we know what we know now with the SEC, Grossman's Gators and Dorsey's 2001 Miami team (Arguably the most talented of all-time) could have squared off in a classic.
8. Mark Ingram: 2009
2009 Stats and Awards
- 1,658 yards rushing - 17 TD - 118.4 yards per game
- 334 yards receiving - 3 TD
As hard as it is for Tide fans to hear, the only reason Ingram ranks ahead of Crouch and White is because his team won the National Championship. As the first Alabama player to win the award, Ingram wasn't even the best player on his own team. That distinction goes to Julio Jones. And Ingram was possibly the 2nd best running back on his own team behind a freshman phenom named Trent Richardson. Ingram wins this award in one of the weakest Heisman races in recent memory because his TEAM demolished Florida in the 2009 SEC Championship. Quick...who finished 2nd?
Toby Gerhart, the Doak Walker Award Winner, for best Running Back. What position does Ingram play again?
I am not saying Gerhart is in Ingram's class, but if there ever was a team Heisman effort it occurred in 2009.
7. Carson Palmer: 2002
2002 Stats and Awards
- 63.2 Completion Percentage
- 3,942 yards passing - 33 TD 10 INT
- 4 rushing touchdowns
- Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award
I was shocked to see that Palmer didn't win a major award except for the Heisman and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The other awards were swooped up by Brad Banks of Iowa and Larry Johnson of Penn State.
What makes this year so odd is that as good as Palmer was that year, Larry Johnson was better. He rushed for over 2,000 yards with 29 touchdowns and he also recorded 7 sacks as a defensive end.
Carson Palmer was the most NFL-ready player that year, and I think that got him the award. I know this should be about Carson Palmer but I think the best argument you can make about him winning is to talk about what a phenomenal year Larry Johnson had as he collected the Maxwell, Walter Camp, and Doak Walker Awards.
6. Matt Leinart: 2004
2004 Stats and Awards
- 65.3 Completion Percentage
- 3,322 yards passing - 33 TD 6 INT
- 3 rushing touchdowns
- Walter Camp Award, AP Player of the Year
As the leader of one the best teams in recent memory, Matt Leinart was stoic as he led the Trojans to a wire-to-wire National Championship. The reason Leinart didn't sweep all of the awards is because of the incumbent Heisman trophy winner, Jason White. Leinart and the Trojans met White and Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl as both teams were 12-0. USC simply put on a clinic against the Sooners as Leinart tossed 5 touchdowns in the 55-19 victory with Leinart receiving Orange Bowl MVP honors.
Although this National Championship has since been vacated, Leinart's cool and calm demeanor was in full effect in 2004 and a major reason the Trojans were so dominant.
Whether or not they have anything to show for it is irrelevant...Anybody who watched that USC team knew they were the best in the country......by a wide margin (sorry Auburn!).
5. Troy Smith: 2006
2006 Stats and Awards
- 65.3 Completion Percentage
- 161.91 Quarterback Rating
- 2,542 yards passing - 30 TD 6 INT
- 1 rushing touchdown
- Davey O'Brien Award, Walter Camp Award, AP Player of the Year
The regular season for Troy Smith and the Buckeyes was as dominant as any team in the last 10 years. Closing out the regular season in a #1 vs. #2 classic victory against Michigan at the Horseshoe.
He blew away Darren McFadden and Brady Quinn in Heisman voting and...
...Less than a month later he and the Buckeyes were blown off the field, at the hands of a brutal beat down by the Florida Gators.
This defeat began this unprecedented reign of SEC dominance, but if it weren't for that game people might not have gotten to see the discrepancy in speed and quality of teams between the SEC and the Big Ten.
Unfortunately, that is how Troy Smith will be remembered...exposed by a higher quality opponent.
4. Sam Bradford: 2008
2008 Stats and Awards
- 67.9 Completion Percentage
- 180.86 Quarterback Rating
- 4,721 yards passing - 50 TD 8 INT
- 5 rushing touchdowns
- Davey O'Brien Award, AP Player of the Year
Ahh, this was a fun one. This was the supposed "Year of the Big 12." Along with Bradford, there was Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, Zac Robinson, etc...
Scoring happened early and often in the conference that year. And no one did it better than Sam Bradford. His stats are through the roof, but the reason he didn't crack the Top 3 is because McCoy or Tebow probably deserved the trophy more. Earlier in the season McCoy's Longhorns defeated the Sooners in the Red River Rivalry and then there was the "Tebow Promise".
It also doesn't help Bradford's case that he and the Sooners lost to Florida in the BCS National Championship.
3. Cam Newton: 2010
2010 Stats and Awards
- 66.1 Completion Percentage
- 2,854 yards passing - 30 TD 7 INT
- 1,473 yards rushing - 20 TD
- Davey O'Brien Award, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, AP Player of the Year
This is where my bias comes in...I had Cam Newton #1 on my ballot because he had, in my opinion, one of the most dominating seasons ever by a single player. If you take Matt Leinart off of the 2004 or 2005 USC teams they still have Bush, Steve Smith etc...Same goes with Reggie Bush.
Tebow's team had a dismal season compared to Florida standards during his Heisman trophy year.
I know I spent more time dissecting the play of the lower ranked winners, because I had to give a reason they were ranked where they were,
I think with all of the controversy, the comebacks, the utter "man among boys" theme, Mr. Newton's season will be one we will not soon forget.
2. Reggie Bush: 2005
2005 Stats and Awards
- 1,658 yards rushing - 15 TD
- 1,206 yards receiving - 2 TD
- 379 kickoff return yards
- 178 punt return yards - 1 TD
- Walter Camp Award, Doak Walker Award, AP Player of the Year
I know, I know, this is no longer his, but puh'lease, you watch any game that year and he was by far the best player on the field.
This of course has a different controversy, because he wasn't the best player on the field in the Game of All Games, because that honor goes to Vince Young. If Young wins the Heisman that year he would be ranked just as high as Bush is in this vote. That's how good these two guys were. I won't argue anymore about that one, because of course the Heisman has since been vacated, but if we were to hand it to Young, he would be sitting in this same spot all because of #1..........
1. Tim Tebow: 2007
2007 Stats and Awards
- 172.5 Quarterback Rating
- 3,286 yards passing - 32 TD 6 INT
- 895 yards rushing - 23 TD
- Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Walter Camp Award, AP Player of the Year
......this voting just got "Tebow'd"! Whenever Timmy is in any kind of voting competition it is almost a forgone conclusion that he will finish near the top...
Dominant year (Not as dominant as Newton in my opinion). Mediocre team.
The Ten as I See It: What Do You Think?
My Top 10:
1. Cam Newton
2. Tim Tebow
3. Matt Leinart
4. Reggie Bush
5. Sam Bradford
6. Carson Palmer
7. Troy Smith
8. Mark Ingram
9. Eric Crouch
10. Jason White