Looking Ahead: The Five Teams Most Likely To Win Their First Heisman In The Next Five Years

Phil Steele’s awesome annual is out and, in my book, that means the college football preseason has officially begun.

Being the Heismanpundit, I naturally go right to his back page to see his list of Heisman candidates.  Phil is not usually as good at predicting the Heisman as he is at other stuff, and he tends to hedge his bets more than usual on the subject, so I was a bit surprised by his top pick this year–Alabama’s Trent Richardson.

It’s not so much that I don’t think Richardson can win the Heisman.  He is on my early Heisman watch list, after all. Instead, what struck me was how much has changed at Alabama in the last few years.  The Tide went from never really coming close to winning a Heisman to finally breaking through with Mark Ingram (albeit by a whisker in a very weak year) and now, thanks to the talent Nick Saban is attracting, they are likely to be a much stronger factor in the Heisman race for the foreseeable future.  Who knows, ‘Bama may yet build a Heisman tradition.

So it got me to thinking:  What schools that have yet to win a Heisman are most likely to win one in the next five years?

Here are my picks…

1. Oregon — Whether you are a quarterback or a running back, you are going to put up big numbers in the Chip Kelly offense.  The Ducks have a ton of top-level offensive talent stockpiled and should be formidable even after current stars Darron Thomas and LaMichael James exhaust their eligibility.  Oregon has transitioned into a national power and, once that happens, Heismans naturally follow.  If James or Thomas can’t get it done, look for future stars Lache Seastrunk, Marcus Mariota, De’Anthony Thomas or Tra Carson to be the first Duck so honored. (Note: this also assumes Oregon escapes heavy NCAA penalty as a result of the current investigations).

2. Arkansas — Bobby Petrino‘s offensive machine is just getting rolling.  I expect the Razorback quarterback to be a staple at the upper end of the pass efficiency chart for the next few years. Tyler Wilson should do quite well replacing Ryan Mallett and junior running back Knile Davis is the SEC’s best running back.  Down the road, look out for quarterback Brandon Allen.  Petrino’s system is perfect for budding Heisman candidates.  Just plug and play.

3. Boise State — Kellen Moore may not win the Heisman himself, but he will likely pave the way for future Bronco candidates with his masterful career.  Moore should be in the top five of the race again this year, which means Heisman voters will be used to seeing a Boise State player in the spotlight.  At some point very soon, Boise will sign a high-level talent at either quarterback or running back and that player will have a really good shot at winning the trophy.

4. West Virginia — As long as the Dana Holgorsen Era doesn’t come to an abrupt end as the result of some dumb off-the-field moves on his part, then I expect WVU to be the new offensive powerhouse coming out of the Big East.  The most immediate beneficiary of Holgorsen’s fantastic scheme should be quarterback Geno Smith, but it’s Smith’s heir (whoever that is) who should get the most out of it once he matures in the system.  This should be a fun team to watch and I expect a Mountaineer to emerge as a legit candidate very soon.

5. Missouri — Long an underachieving program, Missouri under Gary Pinkel is now well-respected.  Chase Daniel was in the thick of the Heisman race as a junior and a preseason candidate as a senior.  His replacement Blaine Gabbert was a first-round pick in the NFL draft.  Missouri quarterbacks put up good stats and the Tigers play the kind of schedule that lends itself to a Heisman run, with games against Oklahoma and Texas usually on the docket.

While one of these five teams is likely to get on the Heisman scoreboard soon, a few others might take a bit longer.  Here they are: Mississippi State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Illinois, Michigan State, Arizona State, Cal, USF, North Carolina.

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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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29 Responses to Looking Ahead: The Five Teams Most Likely To Win Their First Heisman In The Next Five Years

  1. The D June 6, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    To my knowledge, there is NO investigation by the NCAA at Oregon. The NCAA did ask for sone information to ascertain IF an investigation needed to be conducted and have seemingly not found that an investigation is warranted. My sense is that this is similar taking your car into your mechanic and saying “Check the oil, please” or saying “Change the oil.”
    There have been rumors, nothing more than rumors. If am wrong, please link your source. Thank you. I’ll be watching.

  2. quackinak June 6, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    I am with The D on this one. My understanding is the NCAA asked for some information based on reports in the media. This is not the same as an investigation.

  3. LoneStar June 6, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    I too am with D….not sure if you have done your homework. The Ducks were found to have done nothing wrong was where I thought I saw it. This is what happens when you get near the top. Everyone is looking for a crack in your armour.

  4. WashMan June 6, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Oregon was asked some questions by the NCAA due to their full compliance with the freedom of information act request by USA Today or some other national publication. They were the only school to comply…the NCAA has never opened any sort of official investigation into the program. In fact, numerous schools, including Auburn and Alabama were found to have spent much more on similar recruiting services. Some type of investigation may occur at some point, but it’s more likely to be a national inquiry to determine how the NCAA should govern the method in which colleges deal with these recruiting services.

  5. HP June 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    I am using the term ‘investigation’ very loosely here. I did not explicitly write that there is an NCAA investigation going on, only that there are investigations happening. And this is true with regards to media investigations, which almost always provide the impetus for official investigations.

  6. The D June 6, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Methinks you backpedal post haste. It appears to me that you were loose only with your journalistic investigations.
    You wrote above,
    “Note: this also assumes Oregon escapes heavy NCAA penalty as a result of the current investigations).”
    This implies NCAA investigation, does it not? It does not imply generality.
    I’m not trying to be ‘picky’; it is that the UofO is trying to do things correctly/right and is collecting an unnecessary ration of flack…and here, the beat goes on. I would like for you, HP, to become part of the solution as in the past your blog has thus suggested, rather than to ease the ‘problem’ forward.

  7. HP June 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    No backpedal, but I should’ve been more clear in my writing. I am aware there is no NCAA investigation going on, but I am also aware that there are media investigations underway that could potentially affect things. It was only a caveat in an otherwise laudatory graph about the Ducks. I make no charge.

  8. The D June 6, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    No charge, that’s good. No change, meh; lacks your courage of last year.

    Using the descriptors ‘heavy NCAA’ when attempting a laudatory non-explicit graph tests your readership to an extent that we feel confused.

    Maybe if you linked your ‘media investigations’ which are underway, that too, might add clarity.

  9. DM June 6, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    80% of readers would have interpreted your statement to mean an NCAA investigation. The other 20% thought G,W. Bush was doing a good job at the end of his second term.

  10. steve olson June 6, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    I love your site but the statement is misleading. Why mention “heavy penalties” when no investigation has started and allegation are that UO paid sites like many other University’s have? No proof of improper payment has come forth. You shouldn’t stick a knife into a person or institution’s integrity on such flimsy “evidence”.

    • TeaTime June 7, 2011 at 7:36 am #


      Please man up and don’t go Rep. Weiner on us. If you indeed intended to generalize your caveat to include media ‘investigations’ (rather than NCAA investigations), then your comment makes no sense. ALL schools would be under ‘investigation’ if the definition included ‘research by the media’. Sorry.

  11. Bob June 7, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    “media investigation going on that could potentially affect things” yea like untrue rumors that writers love.

  12. Heismanpundit June 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Come on guys. You all are being a little too sensitive. Of all the teams on this list, Oregon is the only one where reports of potential trouble have arisen so far. It’s a caveat to cover my prediction, not an accusation.

    And you all have your head in the sand if you think Yahoo and other investigative outfits aren’t poking around for stuff to nail Oregon with. This is what I meant to refer to.

    I apologize for being imprecise in my writing, and I get your concerns, but I think I was fair given what I know.

  13. TAS28 June 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    You are aware that Boise just got nabbed for recruiting violations ? The stuff was dumb and small change but they were cited by the NCAA.

    You can’t write somebody is under invetigation if the NCAA has not said so.What if somebody here said you were under investigation by the police ? Bet you would jump ugly real quick.

  14. Heismanpundit June 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    I didn’t write that Oregon was under NCAA investigation. I said it was being investigated.

    • realisticduck June 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

      What you said HP, was this…

      (Note: this also assumes Oregon escapes heavy NCAA penalty as a result of the current investigations).

      So based on that, and how you’re explaining it, you can be penallized by the NCAA when the media investigates?
      Please, that clearly…CLEARLY implies that the NCAA could penalize them heavily and that they are the ones investigating.

      Nobody gets penalized based on a ‘media’ investigation. And Oregon is so far, light years, from even being investigated.

      You could’ve added something of real value here. Instead you took a shot at a program from the side and twisted the facts. Period.

      What value could you have added? You wrote about Alabama for a stretch. They spent $216,000 for ‘recruiting services’. Nobody knows how that money was spent. Oregon spent what…1/4th of that? 1/3 over the same stretch? And Oregon’s under ‘investigations’? Please.

  15. duckboy June 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    I’m a duck fan here and I would never act so sure about Oregon escaping the street agent situation unscathed. Remember that the NCAA took a couple years before they concluded that Bush was dirty, and during those couple of years nobody thought anything was going to happen. As a Duck fan, a huge Duck fan, I hope we are cleared. I do think it is sketchy that La Mike took that guy as his guest to the Heisman ceremony. Yes there is not officailly and investigation underway, but at the same time the NCAA has not come on record saying Oregon is cleared of doing anything wrong.

    Go Ducks.

    • realisticduck June 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

      There’s no investigation, because Oregon did nothing wrong, showed their receipts, timeline, etc. and have been transparent. End of story. Now Alabama on the other hand? $216,000? That’s a looooooooot of films.

  16. Heismanpundit June 7, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    I am not here to start a pissing war about investigations.

    but to reply to Realistic Duck, is he not aware that many–if not most–NCAA investigations are preceded and instigated by a media report?

    USC and Ohio State were both nabbed this way, as was North Carolina.

    Neither were under investigation by the NCAA until the media first revealed it.

  17. Huntilly June 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    In the list of future stars at Oregon, I believe Brian Bennett is ahead of Mariota on the depth chart and in star potential. They are the same year I believe.

    • HP June 7, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

      I like Mariota’s potential better.

  18. L.C. June 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    You peeps are sure loving climbin’ all over HP’s nutsack! Ha…

    I don’t really care IF or IF NOT HP was making charges against the Ducks. Why? Because I’M NOT WORRIED ya little kittens. Those “investigations” seem to be nothing to get defensive about – they hold no water. Wait, do your old, mangy horses drink water?? Maybe they should try the LSD laced Gatorade.

    GO DUCKS! I’ll be at the LSU game, the CU game and the Standford game you chewed carrot sticks!

  19. Bryan June 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    HP, you’ll soon realize that duck fans are a mighty insecure bunch. It stems from the fact that they have no football history, but the arrogance that comes with one. Ask Ted Miller how insufferable they are.

  20. HonestDuck June 8, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    As Duck fans many of us ARE insecure, and this media investigation scares the hell out of us. Anybody who thinks that media investigations don’t have consequence simply isn’t paying attention. And yes, we are arrogant, because our football team is good and our coach badass, but more than arrogant we’re afraid of it going back to mediocrity, and this Willie Lyles stuff only exacerbates that fear. I apologize for my fellow Duck fans who are attacking you for semantics; yes, it may not be an actual NCAA investigation, but it really doesn’t matter in the end: if violations are found it doesn’t matter who uncovered them. We’re not used to this level of success and the exposure it brings, nor the jealously from other camps, nor the scrutiny it brings to the program, not to mention the arrests that seem to come with high quality programs (minus TCU).

    And yeah, fellow insecure Duck fans, attack me. I said ‘many’, not ‘all’, feel this way. So if you don’t feel this way, then you aren’t one of the ‘many’.

    And HP, thanks for the words about my team…feels pretty awesome to see them #1 on the list for who will win a Heisman in the next 5 years. Shit, now I have to get back to studying for finals.

  21. quackattack June 8, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    And let the feeding frenzy continue

  22. HP June 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Thanks Honest Duck!

  23. HP July 2, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Anyone care to update me on any investigations that might be going on up at Oregon?

  24. AUman76 July 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    It’s a work in progress. Ol’ Phil -up the coffer Knight, has made sure his team will never have a clear run to daylight! All quack and no attack for the poor ole ducks. By the way the Auburn team everyone loved to hate will keep it’s BSC Crystal Ball. If people would get their heads outta their asses and seek the truth they would find it. MISSISSIPPI STATE was the school that was willing to pay Cam not Auburn. Auburn reported all the crap that happened long before the media tried to destroy our season and our program.
    Now all BS aside about The Ducks, there’s some truth to what has been reported but the question is did UO actually violate any rules? That will be determined at a later date. I see some players in question leaving the program which could help sooth the NCAA’s thurst for blood. Too many damned rules by a corrupted organization causes many of these problems for teams. They worry about a kid sleeping on the floor while being recruited or if he had a damn piece of bubble gum yet allow BCS Bowl presidents to steal in broad open daylight.
    I’m tired of the petity shit and the poor treatment of the players. They are used by everyone and have to sell
    used clothing or tickets to get a lil spending money for a date. Yeah I know it looked like I was gonna bash the hell outta Oregon but truth is the NCAA is at fault more than anyone. They need to make a few rules plain and clear and enforce them to the letter and stop all the nit picking just for show or bullying tactics. It’s past time to just play football. I wish it was all about innocent youngsters playing a kids game but truth is, it’s all about the green and we ain’t talkin bout grass fields. It would be nice to go one season without the NCAA or the media pissing on someone’s parade!

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