Why would a reviewer make the point of saying someone’s not a genius? Do you especially think I’m not a genius? [Pause] You didn’t even have to think about it, did you?
– Eli Cash, character in The Royal Tenenbaums
Figuring out the essentials of the Heisman race is as much about knowing who can’t win as who can.
As much as I love Phil Steele, handicapping the Heisman is not about throwing a list of 50 guys against a wall and seeing who sticks. In reality, there’s probably only 10 players out there who have a real chance at winning in a given season.
That group usually consists of:
1. Established quarterbacks, running backs or multi-purpose athletes who play for traditional powers or teams in the national title race.
2. Currently unknown commodities from powerhouse schools who have yet to emerge on the scene.
As for who won’t win, let’s start by throwing out all the linebackers, defensive linemen, defensive backs, offensive tackles, fullbacks, tight ends and non-kick-or-punt-returning wide receivers right now, even though you are certain to, at some point, read an off-the-wall column about one of them having a shot at, or an argument for, the trophy.
There is an award for linebackers–it’s called a Butkus. There are a bunch of awards for the big uglies–the Outland, the Lombardi, the Nagurski and so on. If you are a fine defensive back, good for you. Go get the Thorpe. And no, I don’t care if his coach really thinks he should win. He won’t.
Yes, I know that some gutty player from a little school going 12-0 is probably going to throw for 5 million yards. Too bad. Unless he really does throw for 5 million yards, he doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning.
So Tank Carder, Manti Te’o, Justin Blackmon, Mark Barron, Michael Floyd, Jared Crick, Luke Kuechly, Ryan Lindley, Jeff Fuller, Alshon Jeffery, Ryan Broyles*, Dan Persa, LaVonte David, Travis Lewis and the rest of you fine players of similar position out there…..I’m sorry. Some of you may get some votes, but you are not legitimate Heisman candidates any more than Ron Paul is a legitimate Presidential candidate.
Now that this is established, we can move on to talking about who has a chance at actually winning the trophy.
Remember, here at HP we look at the race as it is, not how it should be.
* — Yeah, I’m aware that Broyles returns punts. But 7.9 yards per return isn’t going to get it done. When he starts breaking some big returns a la Desmond Howard and Tim Brown, he’ll be in this race.