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 Push For Bush

Yours truly gets quoted in this piece by Dan Weber of the Riverside Press Enterprise, on Reggie Bush’s chances for the Heisman in 2005. (Thanks Dan!)

The Contra Costa Times also refers here to Bush’s early front runner status.

As we’ve said earlier, Bush’s media presence looks like it is reaching that saturation point where he can start to be considered the Heisman front runner.

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Sooners Looking To Reload

But we don’t think it will work, despite what the Associated Press says here.

Even though Adrian Peterson ran for 1,925 yards last year, this is still an offense that centers around the quarterback. People are too quick to downgrade Jason White and the kind of player he was. Simply put, he was a great college player. Without him, OU becomes very one-dimensional, unless Rhett Bomar or Paul Thompson can step it up.

But the Sooners lost more than anyone last year in the NFL draft, so there are holes to fill all around. To our eyes, at least three losses appear to be in store for OU.

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Leak Becoming A Leader

He’s No. 2 on our preseason Heisman watch and according to the Orlando Sentinel, Florida quarterback Chris Leak has transformed into the leader Urban Meyer wants him to be.

“I’m the quarterback of the Florida Gators, a third-year veteran. That’s part of the deal. That’s part of what you’ve got to do.”

So far, he and his coaches said, Leak has fulfilled his part of the deal. Meyer has raved about his quarterback’s play on the practice field after some struggles in the spring and early summer.

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More CFN Gobbledygook

Try as we might, we can’t seem to be able to ignore the continuing drumbeat of inanity that goes on at places like collegefootballnews.com.

The latest transgressor is Matthew Zemek, some guy who wrote this rambling piece about LSU’s Rose Bowl chances.

The main question of the column: What are the inevitable surprises that will come up this season?

His answers: USC will have to make sure it doesn’t play tight, and LSU will be very, very good and won’t have much to show for it.

Wow. Those are the two surprising things to look for this season?

This isn’t meant as any kind of attempt to maintain a continuing set of talking points or nurse an emotional grudge with respect to the still-controversial 2003 national championship race between the two teams, which is still fresh (oh, very, very fresh) in the collective memories of Trojan and Tiger fans.

As someone who lives in Los Angeles, I can assure the writer that there are no USC fans still thinking about the 2003 season-ending poll. Clearly, that is not the case in Baton Rouge. It shows the SEC-dominated perspective that CFN employs.

Anyway, he goes on to state the usual canard about the tough SEC schedule that LSU will have to go through, whereas USC’s schedule is ‘cake’ because of the easy Pac-10.

Without getting too much into it, does any else see the problem here? I mean, one of LSU’s non-conference foes is from the same Pac-10 that USC plays in: ASU. For playing the Sun Devils, LSU is called ‘courageous.’

LSU also plays North Texas, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Appalachian State, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas–seven teams that didn’t manage to get past .500 last year.

That basically gives the Tigers a four-game season–against HP No. 2 Floria, HP No. 8 Auburn, HP No. 13 ASU and HP No. 15 Tennessee . Granted, that is a tough four-games. Amazingly, ALL FOUR of those games are at home, though. And LSU plays a total of SEVEN home games in all. Three of the four road games are against MSU, Vandy and Ole Miss!

In a brief bow to the issue of scheduling, Zemek adds:

Yes, I would love to see SEC teams schedule more heavyweights in non-conference play. In a conference that prides itself on manliness and glorified gridiron grit, it?s a shame that the big boys don?t challenge more powers in other leagues. I won?t deny the force or merits of this point.

But once you do get into conference play?which, last time I checked, still does account for 72 percent of a team?s regular season?the SEC is murder, and that?s why its teams go light in the non-conference realm.

Do murderous teams really account for 72 per cent of LSU’s schedule? We have already shown that they have just a four-game season to get through. That doesn’t come out to 72 per cent, last I checked. What is murderous about bottom feeders Vandy, MSU, Ole Miss and Arkansas?

Finally, the twisted logic gets even more twisted when Zemek says about USC’s schedule:

Only Oregon poses a scenario that grabs your attention and makes you say, ?Hmmm… they really could get ambushed there…? Tempe?s too relaxed, Cal?s too impotent (at least going into the season), and Notre Dame isn?t what Notre Dame used to be.

Anyone who calls Tempe ‘too relaxed’ has simply never been to Sun Devil Stadium. There, USC will be playing the same Sun Devil team that LSU was ‘courageous’ enough to play. What’s more, it will be in a hostile environment, not a home setting. He calls Cal too impotent going into the season, but USC plays them in the ninth game, when Cal will be much improved (conversely, he says Tennessee will be much improved later in the season when touting their chances at LSU, even though the Vols play the Tigers in game three). Finally, as Tennessee and Michigan could attest to last year, playing Notre Dame is never a gimme, especially in South Bend.

Sadly, this viewpoint does not shock me, as it’s the same kind of message-board propaganda posted in the commentary section here all the time.

Zemek ends with:

LSU will struggle a lot more than USC, but only because the Tigers are actually playing some people. Yes, that?s meant as a compliment to the Tigers and their conference.

No kidding. Once again, USC and LSU have two common opponents this year, but that is not noted. The idea that the Tigers could struggle because they aren’t that good never enters the imagination. Of course, there is also the possibility that the Tigers ARE that good, but the teams they beat aren’t that good either. Neither is given consideration.

It all goes back to what John Q. Public said down below: The benefit of the doubt always lands South of the Mason-Dixon line.

That same viewpoint results in CFN head guy Pete Fiutak continually gushing over LSU’s pro talent, but never mentioning the same when it comes to USC.

Thus, the first two entries in his top 10 reads so:

1. USC – But I’m not married to this. I have concerns about a defensive front seven that has to replace Shaun Cody, Mike Patterson, Lofa Tatupu and Matt Grootegoed, while the secondary is an injury or two away from having big, big problems. Yeah, it’s USC and the holes will be filled with tremendously talented prospects, but the tremendous Trojan offense will have to carry things for a while.

2. LSU – I seem to be on an island with my infatuation of the 2005 Tigers, but I can’t get past how loaded this team is from top to bottom with next-level talent. How many teams can lose a back like Alley Broussard and still be more than fine? The quarterback situation needs to be settled, but at the very least, JaMarcus Russell is an experienced option. The defense will be one of the five best in America.

So, he’s not married to the idea of USC at No. 1 and can’t get past his infatuation for LSU’s talent. Well, then, Pete, why isn’t LSU No. 1 on your list? Oh, and Earth to Pete: No one has more NFL talent on their roster right now than USC. On offense alone, the Trojans could have as many as SEVEN eventual first-round picks starting this year. That doesn’t take into account the players in the two-deep, many of whom are even more talented. Over on defense, three-fourths of USC’s secondary is going to be drafted after this season, while the two-deep probably has another eight-to-10 possible future first rounders.

This is what happens when your last four recruiting classes are ranked No. 7, No. 1, No. 1 and No. 1.

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Poor Ginn

Ted Ginn is a remarkable player. Here’s a story from ESPN’s Pat Forde on the sophomore sensation and the impact he has had at Ohio State.

I can’t help but think, though, what a waste it is to see Ginn in that Buckeye offense. Last year, he had 25 catches and scored eight times on only 59 touches. He is the fastest player in college football when the ball is in play, but he also has incredible visions and moves to boot.

It will be next to impossible for Ginn to maintain such a preposterous percentage of touchdowns-to-touches, but the Buckeyes will certainly give him every opportunity to try. Because if there is a legitimate threat to Reggie Bush’s title of scariest player in college football, it’s No. 7 for Ohio State.

Can you imagine what kind of numbers he would put up on a team that ran a wide-open, dynamic offense? Or one that actually had a quarterback who could put the ball on the money? Like, say, a Louisville, or even a Michigan?

Ted Ginn in a real offense with a real quarterback. Now that would be scary.

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The Heismanpundit Preseason Top 10 Teams List

Here’s our top 10 teams in college football for 2005, as of August 22.

This list is a power ranking. It is not based on what we think the record of the team will be. So, we won’t be looking at a team and saying “They don’t play so-and-so, so they’ll go undefeated (sorry Purdue).”

Instead, we go into it asking primarily one question: “Would team X beat team Y at this time?” Obviously, there are situations where team Y can beat team X, since anything can happen in college football. This is why there really is very little difference between, say, a team that is ranked 5th and one that is 7th. But as a general rule, what would happen?

This list takes into account the quality of the coach, the style of play the team uses, the talent level involved and the intangibles of where the team is mentally at this time (obviously a hard thing to ascertain). Will the list change during the season? Certainly. Some teams will improve during the year. Some won’t. But here is how we think things look right now:

1. USC–If they are not beaten in the first five games this season, they will not lose. The toughest game will be against Oregon at Eugene. They are head-and-shoulders above everyone else in college football right now. In fact, there probably has never been this much of a gap between the best team and the second-best team.

2. Florida–Our tentative pick to face USC in the Rose Bowl. They have a ton of talent and a great coach who is a proven winner. Once it takes hold, we think Urban Meyer’s offense will run roughshod over the SEC. The only question is: When will it take hold? We say sooner, rather than later.

3. Louisville–They won’t miss a beat with Brian Bohm at quarterback. The Cardinals had the best offense in the country last year and will be among the top five again this season.

4. Michigan–The Wolverines have the best offense in the Big Ten and a future top five NFL pick in Chad Henne. While everyone crows about Ohio State and Iowa, they will quietly keep winning games.

5. Texas A&M–Year three of the Dennis Franchione era should be the breakout. Reggie McNeal is a leading darkhorse candidate for the Heisman.

6. California–The Bears have been recruiting better than people think. Want to bet against Jeff Tedford having an effective quarterback at the helm? I didn’t think so. Therefore, the Golden Bears should once again be among the nation’s elite. Two names to remember: Lavelle Hawkins and DeSean Jackson.

7. Auburn–Year Two of The Borges System should continue to yield dividends. We think Brandon Cox is going to be a big surprise.

8. Texas–Perennially good, but always missing something. Last year, they missed Roy Williams. This year, they’ll miss Cedric Benson.

9. Virginia Tech–We are not convinced that Marcus Vick is the answer, but we don’t think he needs to be either. This team has a ton of talent and is very scrappy, just like Frank Beamer likes it.

10. Boise State–This is a team with an outstanding offensive system and improved talent. They are as cocky and confident as BYU was in the 1980s. We’ll see if they can play with the big boys on Sept. 3 when they take on Georgia in Athens. Apparently, the pollsters think they can compete, as the Broncos are only a 6-point underdog. We take it a step further and call for an outright Boise win.

Our 11-25

We won’t normally do a top 25, but for the sake of the Blogpoll, here is the rest of the teams:

11. Miami
12. Ohio State
13. Arizona State
14. Iowa
15. Tennessee
16. Utah
17. LSU
18. Oregon
19. Fresno State
20. Georgia
21. UCLA
22. Oklahoma
23. Michigan State
24. Virginia
25. Purdue

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The 2005 Heismanpundit Preseason Top 10 Candidate List

Here’s a look at who we think has the best shot of actually winning the Heisman this season. This is NOT the predicted order of the voting at season’s end. Some players may go to New York or get significant amounts of votes who never appear on this list. We will provide quick blurbs on each player here, but go into greater detail on their Heisman chances later.

THE BIG THREE: The first three on this list are, in our opinion, head and shoulders ahead of the rest in terms of all that is required to win the Heisman.

1. Reggie Bush, All-Purpose Tailback, USC

Advantages: He’s a junior tailback on the No. 1 team in the country, which happens to be a traditional power. The USC tailback position carries a lot of weight in Heisman voting–the last Trojan tailback to win was Marcus Allen in 1981, so voters may feel it’s time to bring back the old-time mystique. Bush has incredible name recognition, has been on the covers of several magazines this past summer (including Sports Illustrated) and was considered by many to be the best player in the country last year. He is the only returning Heisman finalist from last season whose candidacy can’t potentially be derailed by a Heismandment–unlike Adrian Peterson, he is an upperclassman; unlike Matt Leinart, he’s not going for a second award. He will get plenty of chances to put up big numbers in big games on TV and is a likeable young man to boot. He excels at several positions, so the understanding is that he is an all-purpose player, thus absolving him of some statistical benchmarks. Of all the candidates out there, he has the best chance to make the highlight shows, since he gets the ball in so many ways. Lastly, quarterbacks have won the last five trophies–is it a running back’s turn?

Disadvantages: He is not a full-time player at tailback and so may not get as many opportunities as he needs. He shares the limelight with Matt Leinart and may share some votes. Will the voters get USC fatigue? Can they give it to three Trojans in four years? History suggests it’s not likely to happen.

2. Chris Leak, Quarterback, Florida

Advantages: He’s a junior quarterback on a high-profile team that could very well be in national title contention. He’ll get plenty of chances to put up big numbers in big games on TV. He has excellent name recognition and has put up impressive numbers to date. He will be playing in a system that produced last year’s top NFL draft pick, so it could very well make for a very successful season for him. If the Gators win the SEC and go undefeated (which we expect), then he will be considered the prime reason for it. He is also very likeable and will do well with the media.

Disadvantages: His Heisman hopes are especially captive to how well his team performs. If the Gators disappoint, he has no shot. But if they look impressive while he puts up big numbers, he will be right in there at the end. It all depends on how soon the Gators digest Urban Meyer’s system.

3. Vince Young, Quarterback, Texas

Advantages: He’s a junior quarterback on a traditional power that is considered a national title contender. He’ll have a couple huge games early to establish his Heisman credentials. There’s even a chance that he can wrap up the trophy early with big games in wins over Ohio State and Oklahoma. He’s coming off a huge Rose Bowl game last season and so his name recognition has really skyrocketed over the summer. He appears to be a likeable guy and his recent story in Sports Illustrated shed a lot of light on his personal history. He’ll get 1,000 yards both rushing and passing. He is not perceived as a great passer, so any improvement there will be overmagnified and be to his benefit.

Disadvantages: If the Longhorns don’t beat both Ohio State and Oklahoma, Young will get the blame. That means that while he could conceivably clinch the Heisman early, he could also be out of the race very early as well. Will the voters be reticent about voting for another Big 12 quarterback after getting burned by Eric Crouch and Jason White?

We feel that the Heisman is very likely to go to one of the above three. Nonetheless, there is another group of players who will, should all of the Big Three falter, get serious consideration. They are:

THE DARKHORSES

4. Reggie McNeal, Quarterback, Texas A&M
5. Drew Tate, Quarterback, Iowa
6. Brady Quinn, Quarterback, Notre Dame
7. Maurice Drew, Running Back, UCLA
8. Lawrence Maroney, Running Back, Minnesota

It would take something magical and amazing for someone from the above group to break into serious consideration for the top spot. There is another group–an elite group, if you will–that has its own shot. We’re talking about two players who may well have a rendezvous with destiny. They are:

THOSE AIMING TO MAKE HISTORY

9. Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Oklahoma
10. Matt Leinart, Quarterback, USC

Just to be clear, both of these great players have Heismandments that apply to them. In Peterson’s case, he is an underclassman. Heismandment No. 2 states very clearly that the winner must be a junior or senior. Certainly, there is still that chance that History can be made, which is why we go against our own rules and put Peterson here. The same applies to Leinart. Heismandment No. 9 says there will be no more two-time Heisman winners. Granted, many are calling him the preseason favorite, but we think he’s more likely to finish in the top 3 or so and not actually win it. Nonetheless, we put him here because we do not deny the possibility that History may intrude and call for a realignment of the Heismandments.

We’ll go into greater detail on all of these great players in the next week or so.

In the meantime, stap on your seatbelts. Once again, it should be an amazing race for the most prestigious award in sports.

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