The media, like the military, is often guilty of re-fighting the last war.
And so we will see preseason top 10 lists and All-American teams for 2008 based almost solely on what happened in 2007.
It’s no different with the Heisman Trophy. Since Archie Griffin became the only two-time winner in 1975, Billy Sims, Ty Detmer, Jason White, Matt Leinart and now Tim Tebow have all been seen as strong contenders to repeat.
In reality, none of them had a real shot, because as Heismandment No. 9 states, there will never be another two-time winner.
There are many reasons why a Heisman winner can’t repeat. For starters, imagine how hard it is for a player to have ONE Heisman-worthy season. But to have back-to-back Heisman-worthy seasons? Forget about it! Furthermore, once such a season is accomplished, it must also be perceived as more worthy than all the other candidates in the running. In essence, everything has to fall perfectly into place for a player to win the Heisman…once. For things to fall perfectly into place twice is highly unlikely.
And so we come to the very special case of Mr. Tim Tebow, the only underclassman to win the award. The circumstances that brought about the breaking of Heismandment No. 2 were rare indeed: Not only did Tebow put up one of the most amazing statistical seasons in college football history, but he did it while every other major candidate magically flubbed things along the way, be it individually or team-wise. When the dust settled, there were no upper class quarterbacks or running backs from traditional Heisman powers left standing. Tebow was a rare specimen as a true sophomore, complete with an already-built-up cult following. He was the fresh-faced quarterback of a sexy offense who played for an elite program in the nation’s toughest conference.
These, I posit, are circumstances that will not soon be replicated. While Tebow was the exception to Heismandment No. 2, he will not be one to Heismandment No. 9.
The reasons are fairly simple. Besides the remote likelihood of the aformentioned circumstances repeating, keep in mind that Tebow’s biggest opponent in the race for the 2008 Heisman will be himself. He will be running not only against his peers, but the legacy of his incredible 2007 performance. If his stats do not compare to his sophomore season, then it will be hard to avoid the perception that he underachieved.
Additionally, there could be structural changes to Florida’s offense that will prevent Tebow from piling up such huge numbers, especially on the ground. By this I mean that there is a chance that the Gators will actually have a legitimate tailback, be it Emmanuel Moody, Chris Rainey or Mon Williams. Throw in the increased Heisman attention that is sure to descend upon Percy Harvin and, once again, the obstacles will be there for Tebow. On top of all that, he will be challenged to stay healthy once again given his reckless style.
WIth all that said, you then have to look at the candidates out there who can also make a legitimate case. Chris Wells is a supremely talented back who will be playing for a top five, traditional Heisman power. He’s coming off a fine season and has a chance to put up big numbers in several marquee matchups. Tebow can have another fine year, but it may not matter if Wells–HP’s current front runner–has the kind of season of which he is capable. Then there is a slew of candidates with outstanding name recognition and credentials: Chase Daniel of Missouri, Pat White of West Virginia, Colt McCoy of Texas and Harvin, plus a healthy group of legitimate darkhorses.
Finally, there is the overexposure factor, the Tebow Fatigue, that will set in at some point. Tebow is one of the most popular, larger-than-life Heisman winners in recent times. He has spent the offseason traveling the globe. He’s got a great Q rating. But too much Tebow on television and in the news will cause the voters to turn elsewhere. It’s a natural reflex. There is also the stinginess factor to take into account, as voters will look for every reason NOT to pick Tebow–last year, they ran out of reasons when no other player stepped up–and most Heismans voter will be reluctant to grant a second trophy unless the circumstance overwhelmingly calls for it.
In the end, I do believe Tebow is the best player in college football. He’s a physical phenom who could very well end up doing something far more meaningful than winning two Heismans–that is, he could lead the Gators to their second BCS title in three years. But as good as he is and as good as his season will be–and believe me, he’s a lock to finish in the top three of the vote barring injury–the odds of him joining Archie Griffin are slim and none.