About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, 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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The Next Adrian Peterson?

Uh, no. But incoming Oregon freshman Jonathan Stewart–the No. 1-ranked prep running back in the nation–should be a pretty good player when it’s all said and done. Here’s a look at what he’s doing to try to be like A.D. from the Portland Tribune.

We saw tape of Stewart last year and thought he was a nice player, sort of a Jamal Lewis-type of power back at 5-10, 226 pounds. But he’s nowhere near Peterson’s class as a runner.

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Tuesday’s Question

College Football News asks who would be the Heisman favorite if you took away the Heisman finalists from last year (Leinart, Bush, Peterson)?

Pete Fiutak goes with Laurence Maroney and Richard Cirminiello goes with Vince Young, as does Matthew Zmek.

Fiutak LOVES Big 10 running backs for his Heisman picks (he chose Anthony Davis from his alma mater Wisconsin for the same question last year). Maroney is going to have to run for at least 2,300 yards to have even a shot at the trophy this year, something Fiutak seems to acknowledge (though it doesn’t stop him from sticking with his pick).

Of course, as we all know, the correct answer to this question is Chris Leak, the preseason second team All-SEC quarterback.

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Blogosphere court jester Every Day Should Be Saturday (EDSBS) has revamped and now looks non-crappy as he blogs from somewhere off of Highway 441, what we in O-Town used to call the ‘Orange Blossom Trail.’

Our view on the re-design? Well, it’s definitely non-crappy, to say the least. Not sure if I like the Wuerffel-Spurrier mid-five since it looks like it came after a touchdown-to-make-the-final-score-62-24-kind of play. But otherwise, the redesign has definite ‘People Magazine’ undertones….which, come to think of it, is about right for a blog that currently has Selma Hayek’s burgeoning breasts on display (I’m sure this last note has guaranteed a click over). If it was Phil Fulmer’s breasts, we’d at least be on topic, right?

But anyway, congrats gentlemen.

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Feldman On The Toughest Conferences

Bruce Feldman of ESPN recently rated his top conferences. Go to this link and you can read it, provided you are an ESPN Insider.

Here’s his rankings and commentary. He breaks the conferences down like he would a group of boxers, with the programs divided into weight classes:

1. ACC: Anyone who thinks FSU is deteriorating into some doormat is crazy. The difference between the ‘Noles and those other fallen-by-the-wayside programs is that FSU still has an armada of game-breakers, while those other places had sawdust. Obviously, the expansion helped boost the ACC, but so did the hires of Ralph Friedgen (Maryland), Jim Grobe (Wake Forest) and Al Groh (Virginia) a few years ago.

Heavyweight: FSU, Virginia Tech and Miami.
Light heavy: Georgia Tech, Boston College and Virginia.
Middleweight: North Carolina, NC State, Clemson, Maryland and Wake Forest.
Welterweight: None.
Flyweight: Duke.

Total: 43. Average: 3.58.

2. Big 12: Texas A&M’s return, coupled with the rise of Texas Tech and Iowa State, offset the decline of Nebraska, K-State and CU.

Heavyweight:Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M.
Light heavy: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State.
Middleweight: Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, K-State, Colorado.
Welterweight: Kansas.
Flyweight: Baylor.

Total: 41. Average: 3.42.

3. SEC: The good: There’s not another conference with five programs capable of winning a national title. The bad: There are five teams in this league that probably wouldn’t win three games in Big Ten league play.

Heavyweight: Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Auburn, Georgia.
Light heavy: Alabama.
Middleweight: Arkansas.
Welterweight: South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State.
Flyweight: Kentucky

Total: 41. Average: 3.42.

4. Big Ten: It’s a slightly more balanced version of the SEC. But this league seems to have more pretenders than any other conference.

Heavyweight: Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa.
Light heavy: Purdue, Minnesota, Wisconsin.
Middleweight: Penn State, Michigan State.
Welterweight: Northwestern.
Flyweight: Illinois, Indiana.

Total: 37. Average: 3.36.

5. Pac-10: It does have the heaviest of all heavyweights at this point. Trouble is, do you think any other team in the league would be higher than fourth in any of the conferences listed above? (I don’t, now that Aaron Rodgers has bolted for the NFL.)

Heavyweight: USC.
Light heavy: Cal, Arizona State, Oregon.
Middleweight: UCLA, Oregon State, Washington State, Stanford.
Welterweight: Washington, Arizona.
Flyweight: None.

Total: 33. Average: 3.30.

6. Big East: The Cards proved they are a legit top-10 program, and I think Pittsburgh (under new coach Dave Wannstedt) might be in that class soon.

Heavyweight: Louisville.
Light heavy: Pittsburgh, West Virginia.
Middleweight: Syracuse, UConn.
Welterweight: Rutgers, Cincinnati.
Flyweight: South Florida.

Total: 24. Average: 3.00.

7. Mountain West: The mix here has really been shaken up in the last two years. I suspect it will change almost as much in the next two years. It sits atop the mid-major crop because of Utah’s rise and because of coach Joe Glenn’s work at Wyoming.

Heavyweight: None.
Light heavy: Utah, New Mexico.
Middleweight: Wyoming.
Welterweight: BYU, San Diego State, TCU, Colorado State, Air Force.
Flyweight: UNLV.

Total: 22. Average: 2.44.

8. WAC: In truth, I’d take the WAC’s top two teams over any other teams right now in the non-BCS bunch. Both are on the brink of “heavyweight” status. Too bad the rest of the league’s a mess, although I think New Mexico State will become a bowl team fast now that Hal Mumme is running the show.

Heavyweight: None.
Light heavy: Boise State, Fresno State.
Middleweight: Hawaii.
Welterweight: New Mexico State, Nevada, Louisiana Tech.
Flyweight: Utah State, San Jose State, Idaho.

Total: 20. Average: 2.22.

9. MAC: A batch of very underrated teams, but the MAC sinks below it’s western counterparts because the rest of the conference has dipped too far down.

Heavyweight: None.
Light heavy: Toledo, Miami (Ohio), Bowling Green.
Middleweight: Northern Illinois.
Welterweight: Akron, Kent, Eastern Michigan.
Flyweight: Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Ohio, Buffalo and Ball State.

Total: 26. Average: 2.17

10. Conference USA: The league was really hurt by the Big East defections (the loss of Louisville especially hurts). Some solid programs are still in the mix, but it’s pretty watered down. And while I’m at it, where’s the outcry for former ECU coach Steve Logan?

Heavyweight: None.
Light heavy: None.
Middleweight: UAB, Memphis, Southern Miss, UTEP.
Welterweight: Houston, Tulane, Marshall
Flyweight: SMU, Tulsa, Rice, East Carolina, UCF.

Total: 23. Average: 1.92.

11. Sun Belt: UNT is, pound for pound, the best deal in college football if you consider how much they win in light of those facilities. Each of these three welterweights has promise, but it’s still a long elevator ride to get up to mid-major level.

Heavyweight: None.
Light heavy: None.
Middleweight: North Texas.
Welterweight: Middle Tennessee, Troy, FAU.
Flyweight: Louisiana-Lafayette, FIU, Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas State.

Total: 13. Average: 1.63.

Our order would differ slightly, looking something like this:

1. ACC–Top to bottom, the toughest group.
2. Pac-10–Best coaching league, combined with superior style of play.
3. Big-10–Very good talent, solid coaching.
4. SEC–Best talent, improved coaching, still behind schematically.
5. Big 12–One half of the league is a joke, the other half filled with paper tigers.
6. Big East–A dying league.
7. MWC–Should be a BCS conference, at least if the Big East continues to be one.
8. WAC–Like the MAC and MWC, the WAC is a proving ground for new offenses and systems.
9. MAC–Great coaches, top teams can play with almost anyone.
10. CUSA–Getting better, but may lose more teams, too.
11. Sunbelt–Algae for the upper food chain of college football.

Other quibbles and bits:

–We wouldn’t put Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in the Light Heavyweight division. Both middleweights in our view. We’d also drop Iowa State and Missouri to welterweight. Nebraska’s spot as a middleweight is mostly on reputation. It can just as easily be a welterweight, considering that’s the denomination for traditionally tough–though currently weak–Washington.

–Although Wake Forest is a fun team to watch and can give teams fits, we’d drop them to welterweight.

–We’d drop Vandy and Mississippi State to flyweight.

–We’d move Cal and ASU up to heavyweight. Feldman doesn’t consider the Bears at that level since Aaron Rodgers departed to the NFL. But, Auburn is a ‘heavyweight’ in the SEC despite losing three first round picks out of its backfield. Will Cal be at least as good as Auburn this year? I would say yes. ASU is coming off a season in which it crushed Big 10 heavyweight Iowa. Also, put UCLA at light heavyweight (again, if Alabama is a light heavyweight, UCLA is, too), drop Stanford to welterweight and Washington to flyweight (yes, they will still be very bad this year).

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Five Key ACC Questions

That’s what Dennis Dodd asks here.

Our thoughts on each of those questions:

What happened to the first family of football?

By this, Dodd is referring to the Bowden family. Our belief is that the tides of college football have moved on and the Bowdens are now like sandcastles on the shore, slowly sinking into the surf as each wave hits them. Simply put, it’s tough to stay on the cutting edge in coaching. About five or six years ago, we would have tagged Dennis Franchione as the best coach in the country. Now, he’d be lucky to make our top 10 (though he is still a fine coach).

But it seems like Bobby Bowden has been nothing more than an absentee landlord for his program for the better part of a decade. That thought hit me when he did a sideline interview during the 2000 National Title game with Virginia Tech. Not a halftime interview….but during the game. I’ve never seen a head coach do that before or since and certainly not in a game of that magnitude.

Tommy Bowden is another coach who made an instant splash and then lost his cutting edge. Although we find it funny that Clemson thinks enough of itself that it expects more than a 7-5 season from its program, it looks like he is on the way out soon as well. A weird thing, expectations.

Anyway, as we said earlier this spring, this is probably the curtain call for Bobby. Happy trails, dadgummit.

Is Larry Coker really on the hot seat?

As Dodd points out, only if the ‘Canes lose two or more games again this year. There’s little doubt that Coker has lost some of the momentum that Butch Davis created at that program. He was able to ride the talent for a couple years, but it looks like some of that talent–and the all important Miami swagger–has been diluted of late. With Florida State not a real threat this year, Miami should be able to come through with at least a 10 win season (provided they find a running back).

Is Jacksonville a trap door?

Dodd wonders if a conference title game is a bad thing and asks: “If an undefeated Auburn can get denied a title shot after going 12-0 in the SEC, why can’t the ACC champion?”

Well, first off, the ACC champion will be playing in a better overall conference top-to-bottom. Second, the ACC champ will likely not play The Citadel, Northeast Louisisna and Louisiana-Monroe in it non-conference slate. So, no worries there. The only real worry will be to get through such a tough conference slate, where there are no real Saturdays off, save for the one against Duke. And if you are a Boston College, for instance, you don’t even play the Blue Devils this year.

Is Marcus Vick as good as his brother?

Uh, no. Not even close. In fact, we don’t think that Vick will even survive the season as the starter at quarterback. In the end, we think the guy will be Sean Glennon, who better fits the mold of a Beamer quarterback.

Who is the all-ACC quarterback?

We’ll go with Kyle Wright of Miami. He should surpass Brock Berlin’s numbers from last year, which on the surface were pretty impressive (22 TDs, 6 INTs).

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Top Running Back Duos And Trios

The Orlando Sentinel ranks the top running back duos and trios.

We think Minnesota with Laurence Maroney and a sack of potatoes would be a good pick, too. Also, we like UCLA with Maurice Drew and Chris Markey.

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Palko And The Heisman

Here’s a story from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko’s chances for the Heisman.

We like Palko, but as the story notes, he is probably a better candidate in 2006 than in 2005. Pitt will have to get significantly better under Dave Wannstedt before it will have the institutional power to carry Palko to the trophy.

It helps that for tradition’s sake, the school went back to calling itself ‘Pitt.’

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