Tag Archives | Heisman

Weekend Heisman Preview

This is a make-or-break weekend for a couple Heisman candidates.  It’s also the beginning of an important month that should eventually determine who wins the trophy.

Tim Tebow–I know he’s not playing due to a bye, but his recuperation over the weekend is key.  Will he be ready to go against LSU?  Rest up, big guy.

Jahvid Best–The last running back in the race could see his candidacy rebound with a big game against USC.  What does he have to do?  Well, first off, the Bears have to win.  That’s a given.  Second, he’s got to gain well over 100 yards and break off a long touchdown run or two.  He needs to dazzle with some highlight reel plays.  Does he have enough gas left in the tank?   Of course, if the Bears lose, his chances at the Heisman are basically zero, though a productive game in a loss could still help him to finish in the top five of the voting.

Jacory Harris–Like Best, Harris has a chance to bounce back and move up in the race.  Playing Oklahoma in front of a national audience is an ideal way to do so.  If Miami wins and Harris plays well, he’ll get a lot of attention and might be set up for a late-season run, as the ‘Canes have a pretty good shot at winning out.  If Miami loses, Harris’ candidacy is done and he’ll spend the rest of the season setting himself up for 2010.

Case Keenum–He’s the only one of the top three in the HP Heisman Poll playing this weekend, so he’ll have a chance to keep his momentum going.  The ideal weekend for Keenum would be for both Cal and Miami to lose while he throws for a ton of yards against UTEP.  With Tebow and McCoy in a bye week, most of the positive Heisman attention would then fall his way.

Jimmy Clausen–The Irish host Washington and Jake Locker.   This game will allow viewers to compare and contrast Clausen with a quarterback many think is headed for first-round draft status.  While beating Washington isn’t that big of a deal, outperforming Locker in a win would be a feather in his cap and set him up nicely for the marquee matchup with USC on Oct. 17.

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Hating The Heisman

The latest edition of hating on the most prestigious award in sports comes courtesy of Dan Scofield of Fighting Irish Gameday.

It’s ironic that such vitriol would come from a follower of the program that has benefitted more from the Heisman tradition than any other.  Usually the complaints come from fans of programs that lack significant history or success (you know, the sour grapes types).

Anyway, I had a post written up that ripped Scofield’s screed completely to pieces (including the uncredited butchering of the Heismandments), but I thought better of it.  First of all, it’s not worthy of that much of my time.  Second, I’d much rather point out that almost every critique he makes of the Heisman could apply equally to Notre Dame.

[Aside: I respect Notre Dame for its history and tradition, just as I respect the Heisman, so Irish fans please note that this is a rhetorical point I am trying to make in the context of this awful piece]

After all, what program in college football is more talked about than Notre Dame?  And why?  Certainly not because of anything it has done on the football field recently.  He says most Heisman winners don’t deserve the hype because they didn’t earn it on the field.  Well, same goes for the Fighting Irish.  Jason White meet Charlie Weis.     

Like the Heisman, Notre Dame is the product of hype, tradition, politics and bias.  Like the Heisman, Notre Dame stirs up passions and jealousies.  To paraphrase Scofield, you could say that Notre Dame is an ‘unfortunate fact’ for the college football world.  Like Army and Navy, it has outlived its usefulness, but unlike the more noble service academies, it never went quietly into the night.  It still thinks it is relevant.

Scofield bemoans that defensive players are left out of the Heisman equation.  Well, what about all the less-historic programs that are currently better than Notre Dame on the field but don’t get special treatment by the media and the BCS?  Why doesn’t Boise State have its own network? 

My favorite line in the whole piece comes at the end:

One thing other sports have over college football is their connection with their traditions and past times.

Really?  What other sports?  Hockey?  NFL?  NBA?  Good lord, college football reeks of tradition and paeans to the past.  Has this guy ever been to a Notre Dame game?  At this point, I must assume he is a subway alumnus.

Scofield also writes:

The (Heisman) award will continue on the path of self-destruction if legitamacy (sic) is not brought back into the trophy.

Again, could we not say the same about Notre Dame?  How did Bob Davie, Ty Willingham and Weis work out for you?

If Scofield hates the Heisman, he should hate Notre Dame, too.  But if he loves Notre Dame, he should love the Heisman.

Otherwise, I’m not sure why he even bothers watching college football.

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Herschel Walker, Ultimate Fighter

Former Georgia running back Herschel Walker, the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner, has decided to make a move into the sordid world of mixed martial arts. 

I’m not one to doubt the athletic talents of this guy, who after all rushed for 5,259 yards in his three-year college career, was an All-American in track (top 100m time, 10.32), a sixth-degree blackbelt in tae kwon do and a finalist as a bobsledder in the 1992 Olympics.

But that, apparently, isn’t enough for UFC President Dana White:

Heisman Trophy winner and NFL star Herschel Walker drew a harsh rebuke from the most powerful man in the sport, UFC President Dana White, who called the 47-year-old’s foray into MMA, “ridiculous.” But on Tuesday Walker fired back and said White doesn’t understand the kind of athletic talent he has.

“Who ever made him the guy to measure athletic talent?” Walker said on ESPN First Take. “I don’t think Dana knows anything about athletic talent. He knows about fighters, which is different, but I will say this: He’s running a show right now with heavyweights and I’ll put dimes to donuts, all the heavyweights on his show right now I will beat. That’s pretty easy to say. I always tell people put their money where their mouth is. Dana says I’m so old? Why doesn’t he step into the ring with me?”

I’ve seen the MMA fighters up close (full disclosure:  I used to be the PR director for the UFC) and I see no reason why Walker shouldn’t or couldn’t compete.  Sure, he’ll have a learning curve technique-wise, but athletically there is no comparison between Walker and the vast bulk of the fighters, many of whom are corn-fed country boys with college wrestling backgrounds.  Now, I haven’t seen Walker lately and 47 is not exactly a prime age to get in the ring, but I would bet that he has the athleticism and stamina of a much younger man.

I think having a name like Walker’s involved in MMA is good for that sport.  Quite a few people would tune in to see  him fight.  If he does well, then it might create an influx of already-recognized athletes into the sport, which would help draw interest from mainstream sports fans.  If he gets his butt kicked, then it demonstrates that MMA is a challenging sport for even the most elite athletes.

It’s a win-win, as far as I can tell.

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The Heismanpundit.com Heisman Poll, 9/29

This Week’s Poll Results, 9/29

(first-place votes in parantheses)
 
1. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida–57 (8)

2. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas–55 (5)

3. Case Keenum, QB, Houston–37

4. Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati–20

5. Jahvid Best, RB, California–11

6. Eric Berry, DB, Tennessee–4

7. Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama–2

Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State–2

Eric Decker, WR, Minnesota–2

Ryan Williams, RB, Va. Tech–2

11. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame–1

Jacory Harris, QB, Miami–1

A.J. Green, WR, Georgia–1

About the Poll
 
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for five players each week. Tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on.  Last year’s final Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote, including the winner.

Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News.

Chris Huston, owner of Heismanpundit.com, coordinates and also votes in the weekly poll.
 
HP’s Thoughts
 
With Jahvid Best and Jacory Harris absorbing major hits to their candidacies and Tim Tebow suffering a concussion, the race looks quite different than it did a week ago.  Though Tebow still leads, Colt McCoy has surged back into a virtual tie with the Gator quarterback, while Houston’s Case Keenum has, for the first time, placed himself within striking distance of the top spot.  The long view of the race still favors McCoy, though Tebow is benefitting from a short-term rallying effect due to his injury.  A possible dramatic return versus LSU on Oct. 10 might decide Tebow’s Heisman fate.

From a Voter

“This Heisman race is much more wide open than I thought it would be. There are a lot of interchangeable parts, but I still voted Tim Tebow No. 1 because he played hurt — with a respiratory illness– and contributed one touchdown pass and two rushing touchdowns in less than three quarters as Florida cruised to an SEC road victory over Kentucky.  The next two spots on my ballot are Colt McCoy of Texas, then Case Keenum of Houston– who has led his unbeaten, non-BCS team to a pair of wins over Big 12 schools.”– Dick Weiss, New York Daily News.
 
Heisman Game of the Week
 
No. 7 USC at No. 24 California.  Last week, Best was sitting pretty in the Heisman race after moving into second in the Heismanpundit.com poll for the first time.  This week, he’s just trying to survive after being a non-factor in Cal’s 42-3 loss to Oregon.  The calculus for Best against USC is simple:  If he does well and the Bears beat the Trojans, he’ll jump back into contention.  If not, he’s finished as a Heisman candidate and we’ll go another year without a running back winner.
 
Player to Watch

Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati.  Pike is starting to get some attention as he has led the Bearcats into the top 10 while completing 71 percent of his passes for 1,223 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first four games.  He doesn’t have the kind of marquee schedule that lends itself to a serious Heisman run but, if Cincinnati remains unbeaten, he has a chance to get some solid backing as the main candidate from the Midwest region. 
 
This Week in Heisman History

Michigan coach Bump Elliot called Navy quarterback Roger Staubach the “greatest quarterback I’ve ever seen” after watching him gain 307 yards running and passing (including two TDs in the air and one on the ground) in a 26-13 win over the Wolverines in 1963.  The total broke “Roger the Dodger’s” own Midshipmen record set the week before against William & Mary.  Staubach won the 1963 Heisman as a junior and was the last of five service academy athletes to take home the trophy.

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The HP Heisman Watch

Here is my weekly breakdown of the players with the best chance of actually winning the Heisman.

1. Colt McCoy, Texas–McCoy is one of only two Heisman candidates to emerge unscathed from this past weekend.  He threw for 286 yards and 3 TDs (with one pick) on 28 of 35 passing against UTEP.  On the year, he has 1,145 passing yards, 9 TDs and 5 INTs, to go with 61 rushing yards and 1 TD.  He is on pace to have 3,721 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions by the time of the Heisman vote.  He will need to cut back on his picks for these numbers to be considered Heisman-worthy, but I think if he keeps it to 12 or below (a 3-1 ratio) he’ll be fine.   He is the overwhelming favorite for the Heisman right now.

2. Jacory Harris, Miami–Why does Jacory Harris move up after a bad loss to Virginia Tech?  Well, just look at the schedule.  The ‘Canes host Oklahoma next week and then will not play a ranked team in their final eight games.  Miami has a real chance to run the table following the game vs. the Sooners, so we are looking at a Miami team that is likely to finish no worse than 10-2, with a decent shot at 11-1 if it beats Oklahoma.  Voters will look kindly upon a young quarterback who led a formerly elite program back into the top five of the polls and may forgive his struggles in the pouring rain on the road at Lane Stadium.   The wildcard in all of this is how Miami ends up in conference play and whether it gets a BCS bid of some sort.  Harris was 9 of 20 for 150 yards and no touchdowns against Va. Tech.  On the year, he has 806 passing yards with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.  He is on pace to have 3,224 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions by the time of the Heisman vote.  However, I expect him to pick up the pace on these numbers in the final eight games of the season and finish with a much better stat sheet.

3. Jahvid Best, Cal–Best ran for just 55 yards on 16 carries and was not a factor in Cal’s blowout loss to Oregon.  I’m not ready to count Best out just yet, though, as he has a shot to bounce back with a nice game in a win next week over USC.  As always, USC is the team that Best must do well against to have a shot.  If Cal loses against USC next week, Best’s Heisman chances are done.  One problem is that Best clearly is not 100 percent right now due to soreness in his surgically-repaired foot.  So he is lacking some of the other-worldly explosiveness to which we have become accustomed.  On the year, Best has 467 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 9 catches and one more TD.  He is on pace to have 1,401 yards and 27 total touchdowns by the time of the Heisman vote.

4. Tim Tebow, Florida–Almost everything has to go right to win the Heisman once.  To win it again, things must be near-perfect.  Tebow’s chances at another Heisman are fading and are now entirely dependent upon the collapse of the rest of the field (as well as his health).  He threw for 103 yards on 5 of 10 passing with a TD against Kentucky and added another 123 yards and 2 TDs on the ground before being knocked out with a concussion in the third quarter.  In the short term, there will be a rallying effect around Tebow among voters, as they rightly appreciate his toughness.  The question now, though, is how much time will he miss, if any?  His stats are already down even further than last season and any missed games will further depress his numbers.  On the year, he has 643 passing yards with 6 TDs and 1 interception, along with 271 rushing yards and 5 TDs.  Assuming Florida makes the SEC title game, he is on pace for just 2,089 passing yards, with 20 TD passes and 3 interceptions, to go with 880 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.   Those are impressive to a point, but are they enough to warrant a second Heisman?  I’m not so sure.

5. Case Keenum, Houston–There will soon come a point where voters will have to take a serious look at Case Keenum.  So far, he has led the Cougars to wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, which gives him some credibility against legitimate competition.  Houston is now a top 10 team and has a real chance of running the table.  If that happens, how could you not consider Keenum for the trophy, especially if the rest of the field is lackluster?  He led the Cougars to a come-from-behind win over Texas Tech, throwing for 435 yards and 1 touchdown (with 1 pick) while adding 27 rushing yards and another score.   On the year, he has 1,160 yards passing with 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions and has 3 more rushing touchdowns as well.  He is on pace to have 5,026 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and 9 interceptions by the time of the Heisman vote.  I wouldn’t be shocked if he improves upon the TD numbers when all is said and done.   This is not Andre Ware leading a probation-riddled team to 9-2, this is a guy who has beaten some pretty good teams while pushing his squad to a possible undefeated season and BCS berth.  Something to think about. 

6. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame–Part of figuring out who can win the Heisman is projecting how the season could possibly play out (within reason).   Given how things shape up, I think Clausen actually has a shot to make a late-season run.  He has led the Irish to gritty comebacks in each of the last three games (though in one of them ND ended up losing in the end) and there seems to be a bit of magic surrounding him this year.  On the season, he has 1,122 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and just 1 interception.  He is on pace to throw for 3,386 yards, 30 TDs and 3 picks.  If Clausen has those kinds of numbers and leads Notre Dame to a win over USC and the Irish go on to finish 11-1, how do you ignore him in the Heisman race?  If other candidacies mess up along the way, I think he’ll end up as a viable alternative as he’ll be seen as someone who has revived the Irish program.  But, there is a long way to go and this scenario has to play out just right.  So he remains a long shot.

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The Latest HP Heisman Poll

The Heismanpundit Heisman Poll, Sept. 22

1. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida–55 (7)
 
2. Jahvid Best, RB, California–53 (5)
 
3. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas–43 (1)
 
4. Jacory Harris, QB, Miami–17
 
5. Case Keenum, QB, Houston–8
 
6. Eric Berry, DB, Tennessee–5
 
7. Daryll Clark, QB, Penn State–4
 
Jake Locker, QB, Washington–4
 
Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State–4
 
10. Jevan Snead, QB, Mississippi–2
 
About the Poll
 
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for five players each week. Tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on.  Last year’s final Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote.

Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News.

Chris Huston, owner of Heismanpundit.com, coordinates and also votes in the weekly poll.
 
HP’s Thoughts
 
Cal running back Jahvid Best is surging in this race now and it’s no wonder after scoring five touchdowns against Minnesota.  While Tebow and McCoy are obviously great players, Best provides a lot of the razzle dazzle that the voters crave and that has perhaps been lacking from the venerable quarterback duo in the early going.  If Best can keep it up these next two weeks against Oregon and USC, he might take over this race.  Keep an eye on Miami’s Jacory Harris, the latest dark horse to emerge.

From a Voter

“For me, this was the week preseason preconceptions gave way to what’s actually happening on the field. In the wake of an inspiring but workmanlike afternoon from Tebow; and another halting first half from McCoy, it was a no-brainer  to elevate the sensational Jahvid Best to the top of my ballot after his five-TD performance on the road against much-improved Minnesota.”– Austin Murphy, Sports Illustrated
 
Heisman Game of the Week
 
No. 6 Cal at Oregon.  This game would have a higher profile if the Ducks hadn’t flopped against Boise State in week one, but it is a possible trap game for the Bears, who could be looking ahead to USC the following week.  The good news for Best: No rain in the forecast and a chance to fly on field turf against a suspect defense.  Fun note: Best has scored more touchdowns this season than 40 teams in the FBS.
 
Player to Watch

Jacory Harris, Miami.  Harris and the Hurricanes head to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech this Saturday.  He’s one of the hottest players in the country right now, but playing in this venue will be a challenge.  Voters will be keeping a close eye on this game and Harris has a chance to make a big impression by leading Miami to a win.  If that happens, he’ll have no time to rest on his laurels as Oklahoma is up next.
 
This Week in Heisman History

Eddie George rushed for 207 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries to lead No. 7 Ohio State to a 45-26 win over Notre Dame in 1995.  “All I know is I played a game against Notre Dame to the best of my ability,” said George afterward.  “If I’m up for Heisman consideration, that’s great.”  He went on to win the trophy that year, beating out Nebraska’s Tommy Frazier and Florida’s Danny Wuerffel.

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The Latest Heismanpundit.com Heisman Poll

This Week’s Poll Results, 9/15
 (first place votes in parantheses)

1. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida–59 (9)

2. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas–52 (3)

3. Jahvid Best, RB, Cal–41 (1)

4. Max Hall, QB, BYU–19

5. Case Keenum, QB, Houston–8

6. Daryll Clark, QB, Penn State–7

7. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State–3

8. Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State–2

     Jevan Snead, QB, Mississsippi–2

10. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame–1

       Joe McKnight, RB, USC–1

About the Poll
 
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for five players each week. Tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on.  Last year’s Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote.

Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News.

Chris Huston, owner of Heismanpundit.com, coordinates and also votes in the weekly poll.

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