Check out this story by Darren Everson of the Wall St. Journal on the South and the Heisman Trophy.
The problem with the notion that Southern teams have somehow been ‘screwed’ out of the Heisman is that if you go back, you are unlikely to find more than a couple situations where you could make a case for the Southern player.
Let’s look at the last 20 years as guidance, since this is the era when the SEC has been doing so well.
The only real case to be made is in 1997, when Charles Woodson beat Peyton Manning. Otherwise, who should’ve won?
Garrison Hearst? Maybe, but he wasn’t the best back in that year’s class–Marshall Faulk was.
Jay Barker? Please.
Rex Grossman? Perhaps. But he lost to Eric Crouch because he was a sophomore, not a Southerner.
What no one will talk about is that for most of the last 30 years, the SEC’s Heisman chances have been hampered by conservative, unimaginative, grind-it-out offenses. Defense may win championships, but offense wins Heismans. While other leagues were opening it up and putting up fancy passing numbers, the SEC (until recently) was content to run off tackle and play defense. Players from the SEC may have had NFL-level talent, but they didn’t have the college production that players from other leagues had.
This explains why Florida State and Miami have had no trouble producing Heisman Trophy winners despite being located in the South, while the SEC as a whole has had just two–both from Florida teams with advanced offenses–since Bo Jackson won in 1985.