Every September, the sports media jumps the gun a little bit by anointing a player as the Heisman front runner while ignoring that candidate’s obvious shortcomings over the long haul.
Through no fault of his own, the player who wins the “September Heisman” (also referred to in some quarters as the Kyle Orton honorary Heisman) is almost always doomed to fizzle, usually as soon as October rolls around.
In 2002, it was Seneca Wallace. Remember his amazing reverse-field run that left breathless commentators racing to put him atop their Heisman lists?
In 2003, it was Chris Perry. He had three big games to start off the season and was the leader in most Heisman watches. His candidacy died at Autzen Stadium in game four.
In 2004, it was Kyle Orton. Purdue blazed to a 5-0 mark, including a smashing of Notre Dame. Taylor Stubblefield was striking Heisman poses on the sideline and Orton’s numbers through four games were amazing (17 TDs, no interceptions). By game six, though, he was kaput.
In 2005, it was Matt Leinart. Because most commentators still don’t understand that there will never be another two-time winner, he was tabbed as the Heisman front runner. By October, he had been superseded as a candidate by his teammate, Reggie Bush.
Okay, in 2006, the winner of the September Heisman was Troy Smith, who actually ended up winning the award. Anomaly.
But in 2007, it was Andre Woodson of Kentucky, who had the Wildcats at 5-0 and ranked high in the polls early before they collapsed.
In 2008, it was Missouri’s Chase Daniel, who was atop Heisman polls in the first month of the season before falling back behind guys like Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy.
In 2009, it was Tim Tebow, with people once again unwilling to accept the no-repeat rule.
And, last year, it was Denard Robinson, who blazed to some amazing numbers in the first month before tapering off due to injury and the weaknesses of his team in conference play.
So who is the winner this year? (Drum roll please)
While he’s not technically the front runner, he has narrowed his deficit in the latest Heismanpundit.com Heisman Poll to an insignificant margin.
He has put up incredible statistics against an array of out-of-conference foes, some respected and some not-so-much.
He is being touted everywhere (including here) as a legit Heisman candidate.
The winner of the 2011 September Heisman is Robert Griffin III of Baylor.
Now, let me qualify this by saying that I personally think Griffin is for real. But my head would probably be in the sand if I were to believe that his current numbers will hold up the rest of the way.
Heading into week four, he has a pass efficiency rating of 236. He has more touchdowns (13) than incompletions (12). His production is simply out of this world.
But, come on.
Once he gets into conference play, shouldn’t those numbers come back down to earth a bit? Won’t he revert back to the norm a bit?
And if that happens, won’t his Heisman hopes decline somewhat? I think so. It just makes sense.
So while I respect Griffin greatly as a player and expect him to be a factor in this year’s Heisman race, the odds are such that October is likely to be far less kind to him than September.
And that’s why he’s this year’s September Heisman winner.
September Heisman Winners
2003 — Seneca Wallace, Iowa State
2004 — Kyle Orton, Purdue
2005 — Matt Leinart, USC
2006 — Troy Smith, Ohio State*
2007 — Andre Woodson, Kentucky
2008 — Chase Daniel, Missouri
2009 — Tim Tebow, Florida
2010 — Denard Robinson, Michigan
2011 — Robert Griffin III, Baylor
* — actually won the Heisman that year