The Unfortunate Heisman Trophy

Last night, we probably saw the Heisman Trophy wrapped up.  Three of the top candidates, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, and Mark Ingram, participated in conference title games.  Only one played well, and I suspect that will carry Ingram to the trophy. McCoy won, but he threw 3 interceptions and needed a controversial out-of-bounds pass with 1 second left to save the game. Tebow posted substantially better numbers than McCoy, but his team lost 32-13 and destroyed any last legs under his candidacy. Ingram in contrast ran for 3 touchdowns and nearly 200 total yards. Are we leaving out any candidates, though? Should the Heisman consider someone other than an offensive skill player?

Let us consider a 5-year period of the NFL draft, 1996-2000. These years are completely random. Who was the best player selected in the first round each year?

  • 1996 – Jonathan Ogden (#4), Left Tackle or Ray Lewis (#26), Middle Linebacker. Both will go down as one of the ten best at their position, maybe top 5.
  • 1997 – Walter Jones (#6), Left Tackle. A very weak draft. Orlando Pace went #1, and he played quite well. Jones was better. The best first round skill player was probably Warrick Dunn.
  • 1998 – Peyton Manning (#1), Quarterback. He might go down as the best ever to play the position.
  • 1999 – Champ Bailey (#7), Cornerback, though he is not much better than Donovan McNabb, Edgerrin James, or Ricky Williams.
  • 2000 – Brian Urlacher (#9), Middle Linebacker. His only non-defensive challengers are Jamal Lewis and Shaun Alexander.

Notice any trends?

First, the Heisman Trophy should reflect who the best college player is, not who will be the best pro player. Given that the best pro player, though, tends to play defense or offensive line, some of those players are almost certainly the best player in college football. Only Charles Woodson in 1997 has won, beating out Peyton Manning, the only offensive player on my list above.

Who should win it this year? I don’t know. Mark Ingram is not a bad pick. N’Damakong Suh, with his 4.5 sacks against Colt McCoy last night, should be given serious consideration. As a defensive tackle, he has no hope. At any given time, it is likely that the best player in college football does not play an offensive skill position. It would nice to see them get the honors they deserve.

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4 Comments on “The Unfortunate Heisman Trophy”

  1. Millsy Says:

    I think they’ve got to consider Gerhart out at Stanford, too. Guy has 26 TDs and a LOT of yards. Stanford isn’t in a bowl without him. But watching Suh last night was a lot of fun.

  2. sportsphd Says:

    Gerhart is a heck of a player. I think he’ll do well, but to win without being from one of the absolute top teams, you need an absolutely huge year. Gerhart’s numbers have trouble matching up with players like Ricky Williams and Ron Dayne.

  3. Millsy Says:

    Point taken. But I think Stanford got more than enough publicity to stick him in the running at the very least. Especially after kicking the #### out of USC.

    I’m curious if we’ll see another draft where a lineman goes first overall (Suh).

  4. verdun2 Says:

    If I had a vote, which I don’t, my choices would be, in order:
    Suh–Mebraska
    Gerhart–Stanford
    Spiller–Clemson
    (you get 3 votes)
    I pick these 3 by asking how well would any of their teams do if they were missing. I can see Texas, Alabama, and Florida doing quite well (maybe more than 1 loss among them, but not many more) without their main players. But these teams are marginal at best without their main guy. That ought to kick each of them up a notch.
    v


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