The September Heisman

Every September, we in the sports media jump the gun a little bit by anointing a player as the Heisman front-runner while ignoring that candidate’s obvious (in retrospect) shortcomings over the long haul.

Through no fault of his own, the player who wins the ‘September Heisman’ (what I also call 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 against Texas Tech 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 4.

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 6, 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 By October, he had been superseded as a candidate by his teammate, Reggie Bush.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.

In 2010, 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.

In 2011, it was Andrew Luck, who looked like a sure thing at the time but couldn’t overcome Robert Griffin III’s late surge.

The winner of the 2012 September Heisman is Geno Smith of West Virginia. Now, I think Smith is a strong candidate and have him as my front-runner right now. He’s on top of all the Heisman polls, too.

He may certainly buck history and join Troy Smith as the only September Heisman winner in the last decade to actually go on to win the trophy (maybe it’s a ‘Smith’ thing) but if he doesn’t, we’ll look back on his September performance as yet another case of early-season Heisman fool’s gold.

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About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, 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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