This Heismandment states that the winner must have put up good numbers in big games on TV.
This is fairly self explanatory. Beano Cook boiled it down even further, saying “You must either play for Notre Dame or beat Notre Dame to win the Heisman.”
While we wouldn’t go that far, the spirit of what Beano says is correct.
A candidate simply cannot afford to look bad on TV in a significant game. A perfect example would be Larry Fitzgerald in 2003 against Miami. Fitzgerald had other reasons why he couldn’t win the Heisman, but bear with me on this one.
Pitt hosted Miami in what was probably the Panthers’ most important game in 20-plus years. The winner would win the Big East and, hence, an automatic BCS bid. Fitzgerald was already the beneficiary of an inordinate amount of hype and the Heisman seemed within range, given the blandness of the front runner Jason White.
Fitzgerald promptly went out on national TV and had 3 catches for 24 yards, getting clearly punked by Antrel Rolle and the rest of the Miami secondary. Game over, no Heisman for Larry.
On the flip side, one might say that White had a bad game against Kansas State in Oklahoma’s most important game. But, the game came AFTER most of the votes had already been cast. Had the game come a week earlier, it would have been very difficult for White to win the award. White DID benefit from several early-season performances against UCLA, Texas and Texas A&M that displayed to the country his abilities, thus building an insurmountable advantage.