If you want to win a Heisman Trophy, you have a distinct advantage if you go to one of these schools. I take into account media presence, Heisman tradition, recent Heisman success and overall program mystique when putting together this ranking.
1. USC–Three Heismans this decade and seven trophies overall, plus a glitzy program set in Tinseltown means a successful Trojan quarterback or tailback is automatically a candidate.
Status: Dropping slightly. Three Heismans between 2002 and 2005, but no finalists since despite some high-profile athletes on offense.
2. Oklahoma–Two Heisman winners and two runners up this decade. They’ve won with running backs and quarterbacks, with Switzer and Stoops.
Status: Steady. Are voters about to wise up to the Sooner system?
3. Notre Dame–No Heisman winner since 1987 and only two finalists since then, but a star Irish player is always on the radar. Like it or not.
Status: Dropping. The former champ from way back when. Still relevant, but needs a savior.
4. Ohio State–Seven Heisman winners and the dominant Big Ten Heisman power. However, a Buckeye player will, on occasion, have to compete with Notre Dame and Michigan players for attention.
Status: Rising slightly. A reliable Heisman power that never goes too long without producing a viable candidate.
5. Florida–Only one school–Notre Dame–has more quarterback Heismans than Florida. With a high-profile coach and a premier program in place, Gator players will be in the mix for the foreseeable future.
Status: Rising. Will John Brantley be the next Florida quarterback to contend?
6. Texas–The last Longhorn to win was Ricky Williams in ’98, but there have been two runner ups since.
Status: Steady. Colt McCoy was about as close as you can get points-wise to winning two Heismans (while not actually winning one).
7. Michigan–The Wolverines won two Heismans in the 1990s and haven’t been much of a factor lately. Still, if a Michigan player goes off, he’s always going to be considered in the Heisman mix.
Status: Dropping. Can Rodriguez bring back the magic?
8. Miami—The Miami quarterback has been a strong presence in the Heisman race in the last 25 years. Both Ken Dorsey and Willis McGahee were finalists this decade.
Status: Dropping. Having the ability to produce a serious Heisman contender is a sign of overall program health. If Jacory Harris contends this year, it’ll show that Miami is back as a power.
9. Florida State–One of the glamor schools of the 1980s and 1990s, Florida State still has enough media cache to produce a Heisman contender.
Status: Dropping. A recent rebound in recruiting could get the Seminoles back in the mix, but a lack of firepower on offense has been the main issue.
10. Nebraska–You could always count on the I-bone to produce a big-time rusher. Since that offense went away, however, the Cornhuskers have struggled. There hasn’t been a true Husker star on offense since Eric Crouch won the Heisman in 2001.
Status: Rising slightly. Ndamukong Suh’s run at the trophy this year shows that Nebraska can still muster a Heisman campaign.