What Does Race Have To Do With The Heisman?

I’m seeing more and more references from Heisman critics out there about how the Heisman tends to go to white, clean cut quarterbacks.

Here’s the latest such reference from Notre Dame blog (!) Rakes of Mallow:

I think the Heisman trophy is just one of the many poorly run things in college football (Are you a clean-cut, white quarterback from a winning team and traditional power?  Come on down!*), but obviously if Jimmy Clausen stays in the mix as a contender, I’ll completely abandon that position, support him in the race and follow the coverage here for your perusal.  Much like the entire framing of this season for the team relies on the game against the Trojans, Clausen cannot win the Heisman without a top-notch effort in a much-hyped game against the best team he’ll see all year.

*A white quarterback has won seven of the last nine years, and it will take the miracle of Tebow or McCoy not winning it this year to not extend that’s streak.

I’m not sure why this meme has taken hold all of a sudden.  I expect it from the usual goofballs who see racism under every rock.  But are these particular Heisman critics so unsure of their position that they must resort to racial guilt to discredit the trophy?  

So what if seven of the last nine Heisman winners have been white?  There was a stretch from 1974 to 1983 where every winner was a black running back.  Seven of the 10 Heisman winners of the 1990s were black and the positions they played ranged from quarterback to running back to wide receiver to defensive back.  Are the critics contending that the Heisman electorate is suddenly focusing on race whereas in the 1970s and 1990s they did not?  That Heisman voters are more racist now than they were in the glory years of racial harmony, the 1970s?  Riiight.

The makeup of the winners has more to do with the changing style of football than anything else.  The 1970s was a running back-centric era, with the option and I formation dominating the landscape.  Naturally, running backs reaped most of the Heismans.  We are now in an era dominated by quarterbacks who put up mind-boggling stats in exotic passing systems.  So, naturally, quarterbacks are winning most of the Heismans now.  Why many of them have been white probably says more about coaches and their traditionalism than the Heisman selection process itself.

Besides, how could anyone look at Sam Bradford’s wooly mane and refer to him as ‘clean cut’?  And correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t he the first Native American to win the Heisman?  I know:  Details, details.  So, I guess that makes six of nine.

Anyway, this kind of dumb racialism might play on college campuses, but it’s a real drag to see it being introduced to college football.


Just another clean-cut white Heisman winner

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About Heismanpundit

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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One Response to What Does Race Have To Do With The Heisman?

  1. Eric Wells October 6, 2009 at 8:51 pm #

    Jim Plunkett is 50% Native American, 50% Hispanic.