Here’s a fun way to illustrate how the Heisman selection process works sometimes.
Take two players, swap them and guess their Heisman fate. Sometimes, as it turns out, geography is destiny:
Swap No. 1: Washington State’s Jeff Tuel and Stanford’s Andrew Luck
Tuel is a physically gifted quarterback who happens to play for a really bad team. As a true sophomore, he managed to throw for 2,780 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while rushing for 459 gross yards. Put him on Stanford and we might be talking about him as a future first-round pick and Heisman candidate this year. Meanwhile, put Luck over at Washington State and we’d be talking about what a shame it is that he’s on such a lousy team.
Swap No. 2: Baylor’s Robert Griffin for Oklahoma’s Landry Jones
Put Griffin at OU with all that talent around him and you might be looking at the Heisman front runner. As it was, he threw for 3,501 yards, rushed for 635 and combined for 30 touchdowns last year for the Bears. Put Jones at Baylor and he’d put up numbers, but I doubt he’d get through the season unscathed.
Swap No.3: Mississippi’s Branden Bolden for Alabama’s Trent Richardson
Both these guys are likely first-round NFL picks, but Bolden’s production behind the Alabama line would be much better than the 976 yards and 14 TDs he managed with the Rebels last year. I think he’d be a sure-fire Heisman candidate. Richardson power-running style might not be as suitable for the Ole Miss offense.
Swap No. 4: Washington’s Chris Polk for Oregon’s LaMichael James
If Polk–an emerging NFL prospect–could get over 2,500 yards in two seasons while playing for a bad Washington team, imagine what he’d do in Oregon’s wide-open scheme. He’d be a prime Heisman candidate for the Ducks. Meanwhile, I don’t think James would flourish as much in Washington’s pro-style offense.
Swap No. 5: San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley and Boise State’s Kellen Moore
If Lindley had gone to Boise State, we’d be talking him up as the guy who is poised to become the all-time NCAA leader in wins by a quarterback. After all, he threw for 3,830 yards and 28 touchdowns for the Aztecs last year. Meanwhile, would Moore have flourished at SDSU as much as he has in the Boise State system? I have my doubts.
Feel free to swap out your own candidates in the comments section.