Heismandment No. 6

The sixth Heismandment states that a player cannot be an obvious product of his team’s system. Also called the “Andre Ware” rule.

Note the word “obvious.” This means that it has to do entirely with perception. If a player is perceived as being just another product of his system, even if he is not, he will suffer in the voting. Conversely, a player can be a product of his school’s system but the perception may not be there, for various reasons.

This is a rule that tends to sink candidates from non-traditional powers. Voters look for every excuse not to vote for a player from a mid or lower-level school. This is a pattern that came about after what came to pass in the early 1990s.

In 1989 and 1990, respectively, Andre Ware and Ty Detmer won Heismans after putting up amazing passing statistics.

Ware was replaced at Houston the following year by David Klingler, who proceeded to put up strikingly similar numbers. Not only that, but Houston had some embarrassing losses while Klingler still put up huge numbers. This made voters retroactively look back at their votes for Ware as a mistake. They saw that Houston had a system that produced huge statistics for quarterbacks.

So what did they do in 1990? They voted Ty Detmer the Heisman!

But here’s the difference: In BYU’s case, the ‘system’ worked in Detmer’s favor. The system was perceived not as one that produced huge statistics but as one that produced great quarterbacks. And Detmer was regarded as merely the next in a line of great quarterbacks at BYU. So, when he engineered an upset of No. 1 Miami in the season opener, it validated the statistics that would come later.

This rule is a major reason why a Kliff Kingsbury or a B.J. Symons or a Timmy Chang can never win a Heisman.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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