I’m a big proponent of Heisman campaigns. They aren’t always absolutely vital to winning the trophy, but they never hurt and, in some cases, they can end up making quite a difference.
However, when the prospect of mounting a Heisman campaign comes up for public discussion, you invariably get naysayers — especially coaches — who claim they’re not needed and that the player’s performance on the field is what constitutes a campaign.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt sums up that attitude here:
“Everybody is going to see what Todd Gurley does on a weekly basis,” UGA coach Mark Richt said when asked about a Heisman “campaign” on his Monday night call-in radio show. “When he puts up those kinds of numbers and does it with the type of style that he has been doing – being a power runner, speed, jumps over people, throws the ball, kickoff return – I mean, he’s promoting himself, quite frankly.”
Now, Richt is a football coach, not a marketing expert. Does he know anything about how the Heisman is selected, or about what kinds of messaging resonates with voters? Probably not.
Coach, Gurley is not the only Heisman candidate who is out there making big plays on television. So if you are a Heisman voter, how do you discern which candidate is the most deserving? Beyond the headline numbers — yards, touchdowns, etc. — how much time do you have to delve into the minutiae of what makes each player special? What if several players have produced Heisman caliber seasons? How do you decide?
This is where the school’s media relations/sports information departments are uniquely qualified to help. Not only do they have access to quality information, they have the institutional knowledge required to put a player’s accomplishments into the proper context.
People hear the term ‘Heisman campaign’ and assume that we’re talking about some crazy marketing gimmick. For sure, those can be fun and clever and help a campaign break through the all the noise out there. But a campaign need not be a garish affair. The intent is simple: Just find a way to highlight the strengths of a player in order to ensure that voters make an informed choice. If you do a really good job of it, voters will be grateful. The last thing you want is a bunch of voters not realizing a key piece of information about a Heisman candidate.
Schools benefit greatly from these players, so the least they can do is support them when a life-changing award like the Heisman is within reach.Powered by Sidelines