Saturday, December 8, 2007

It's Heisman Day

It's Saturday everyone and that means today is the day that we find out if Tim Tebow is the first ever underclassman to win the Heisman, or if Colt Brennan can pull it off after a semi-soft schedule. Maybe McFadden will pull it off after finishing second in voting last year despite the 4 losses for the "Hogs" this year and the 43 yard performance against Auburn or perhaps Chase Daniel whose numbers are incredible was a major catalyst in bringing Mizzou into the title picture but he couldn't get past Oklahoma (his numbers are comparable to Graham Harrell of Texas Tech, who could get by Oklahoma). Either way the whole season this has been debated, ad nauseum and tonight it will be decided. Will the winner display it at a local eatery, travel with it every weekend, sell it to pay off bills, all of which have been done before with this storied trophy for the best player in College Football. One thing to consider, is the Heisman really worth it. Let's look at some of the past winners post Heisman successes.

In the first 20 years many chose to pursue military service, continued education, and entering the job market over playing in one of the struggling leagues available. Of the first 20 winners there was only a total of 53 seasons of football played, and not all in the NFL. Leon Hart (8), Alan Ameche (6), Doak Walker (6) and Howard "Hopalong" Cassidy (9) account for 29 of those seasons. Ameche among the most notable of these professionals following his collegiate career playing in 4 Pro Bowls, Doak Walker the other, who appeared in 5 Pro Bowls and is also the first Heisman Winner in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The next 10 years led to more NFL appearances and success with 65 total seasons played between them with the most notable of that decade coming in the form of the second Heisman Winner to eventually make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Paul Hornung. Hornung played in 9 NFL seasons with 2 Pro Bowl Appearances and 1 MVP. Also during this period Roger Staubach won the award and was the 3rd Heisman winner in the Hall. Staubach played in 4 Super Bowls, won 2, and the Super Bowl VI MVP as well as appearing in 6 Pro Bowls. After the successes of a few of the Heisman winners people started to expect more out of a Heisman winner once entering the NFL. Unfortunately during that period of time there was another first. Terry Baker (1962), considered by many to be the first real NFL bust of a Heisman winner.

In the next 10 years there was only 9 winners due to the legendary Archie Griffin, the only two time winner who had an average statistical NFL career in 7 seasons. Also during this period was Orenthal James Simpson, more commonly known as O.J. He won the Hesiman for his slicing (down the field) and slashing (of opposing defenders) at USC and not in Brentwood. He was the 4th Heisman Winner in the Hall (though technically He and Staubach tied to be the first and Hornung and Walker tied for third due to the timing of elections into the Hall). There was also Jim Plunkett during this period who was the Rookie of the Year and then after a few down seasons was the Comeback Player of the year during a 16 year career. And the last notable of this time being 1966 Winner QB Steve Spurrier before he was the Ol' Ball Coach. His NFL numbers a forgettable 40 TDs and 60 INTs in 10 seasons.

The folllowing decade was a little bit more promising leading to the professional careers of Tony Dorsett (Hall of Famer and 4 Pro Bowls in 12 seasons) and Earl Campbell (Hall of Famer, Rookie of the Year, and 3 time Player of the Year in 8 seasons). This decade also led to Charles White who played 9 seasons with 1 Pro Bowl but more importantly was 3 - 0 in his 3 appearances on America Gladiators. This decade gave us Marcus Allen (1x MVP, 6x Pro Bowler, and wrapped up a Hall of Fame Career after winning the 1993 comeback player of the year) and Herschel Walker. Walker is considered by many to be one of the best college football players of all time and also one of the biggest disappointments in Professional Football. After playing a few years in the stepchild USFL he had a lengthy but un-miraculous professional career. Even being made fun of annually in Minnesota for the trade the Vikings made that led to 9 picks for Dallas which in turn led to Emmit Smith and turned the team around with a solid nucleus of role players added through the drafts. There was Doug Flutie who played 21 seasons and had his own cereal, but only played 12 of his 21 seasons in the NFL, averaging less than 7.5 games per season during that period. Flutie was also the first person to be shorter than the trophy, a high distinction. Lastly was Bo Jackson who was probably the best college football player and could have been a great pro had he not put off football for baseball his first couple years and had a plastic hip his last year in the NFL. Of his high marks though are his unbeatable appearance in TECMO Super Bowl and the ProStars cartoon where He, Michael Jordon, and Wayne Gretzky solved Crimes.

The nest 20 years of winners were led off by Vinny Testaverde, Tim Brown and Barry Sanders (Hall of Fame) that made people once again think the Heisman could lead to a succeessful career the likes of Allen or Simpson. Unfortunately during this period the opposite was more common after the careers of Andre Ware (almost no NFL game play), Ty Detmer (definition of career back-up), Gino Torretta (5 teams in 4 years, careers stats 5/16 for 41 yds, 1 INT and 1 32 yd touchdown), Charlie Ward (NBA), Rashan Salaam (mention his name in Chicago I dare you), Danny Wuerffel, Ricky Marley errr Williams, Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch (the face of the future All-American Football League), and Jason White (retired before taking a snap).

In total 8 Heisman Winners have entered the NFL Hall of Fame, 20 have been to multiple Pro Bowls/AFL/CFL All-Star games, 5 have won 5 MVP, 1 CFL MVP and 1 USFL MVP, 3 Comeback Players of the Year, and one three time American Gladiator winner. What the will future hold for today's young men remains to be seen but with America Gladiators coming back on TV I can only hope someone challenges Charles White's 3-0 record.