Wednesday, January 23, 2008

College Football: Post Season Awards Don't Always Add Up

What is the perfect ending to a college football season dominated by upsets? How about crowning the first underclassmen in the Heisman’s storied history. Tim Tebow becomes the first sophomore to ever have his named etched on the bronze stiff arm, but does the mythical image created by the media really live up to what the trophy has historically represented?

The issue becomes whether or not the media has influenced the award to the point where it no longer holds the same prestige. The media has undoubtedly placed the Heisman in a league of its own in terms of prestige, but how do the other top honors predict its winner?

Breakdown of Top Honors in College Football:

Tier 1:
The Heisman Memorial Trophy: Awarded to Nation’s Most Outstanding Player (Dates back to 1935)
Voting: United States is split into six regions each of which contains 145 media votes. Each previous winner also has votes as well as one going to the public. Every ballot works on a point system assigning 3 points for first, 2 for second, 1 for third.

Tier 2:
Maxwell Award: Awarded to College Football’s Player of the Year (Dates back to 1937)
Voting; All members of the Maxwell Football Club have the right to place their vote for this and many other awards. What does that mean? For $35 a year or $750 for life you too can vote.

Walter Camp Award: Awarded to College Football’s Player of the Year (Dates back to 1967)
Voting: Done by what appears to be an exclusive group of 20 members that oversee the foundation and thus become eligible to vote. A small $25,000 dollar annual fee is all you’ll need for this privilege.

Tier 3:
Doak Walker Award: Awarded to Nation’s Top Running Back (Dates back to 1990)
Voting: Run by SMU. Ten semifinalist are voted on by the the SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors who send that list to a National Selection Committee for the Award the cast votes for three finalists and then again for a winner. This panel is made up for Media and former All Americans and All Pro players. You can see the list here

Davey O’Brien Award: Awarded to Nation’s Best Quarterback (Dates back to 1981)
Voting: A selection of Media personalities and past winners. New this year is the addition of the fan vote which takes the public’s top three picks into the semi finals and adds 5% to their total votes during the voting for finalists and the winner.
Selection Committee List

Now that we’ve run down the awards lets take at some history of the winners and how the other four awards influence who wins the Heisman.

Three Resumes to Keep in Mind:
Tebow is the first underclassmen to ever win the Heisman. He played on a team that went 9-4 and landed 16th in USA Today Poll, 13th in the AP poll, and 12th in the BCS standings. He currently has two more years of eligibility left and has made numerous comments about graduating being the most important thing to him and his family… inferring he won’t leave early.

Tebow also won the Maxwell and O’Brien Awards.

Archie Griffin is the only player to ever win the Heisman twice (1974 & 75). 1974 saw them as co-champions of the Big Ten while in 1975 they won outright. Both years they lost in the Rose Bowl ending with records of 10-2 and 11-1 respectively.

Grffin won the Walter Camp both years and the Maxwell in 75.

Darren McFadden became only the second player in Heisman history to be named runner up twice without winning the award. Glenn Davis took second honors in 1944 and 45 before winning it in 46, however, with McFadden declaring for the draft that stat is solidified. He also becomes the second player to ever win the Doak Walker Award Twice ( 2006 and 07). Ricky Williams did it (1997 and 98) before adding the Heisman to his resume later on in 1998.

McFadden’s total: Walter Camp 07, Doak Walker 06 and 07, no Heisman.

What does this mean?
Starting at 1990 from the conception of the Doak Walker Award the Breakdown looks like this:

1990-2007 (18 Seasons)
13 players winning the Walter Camp Award won the Heisman

7 players had won the Doak and the Walter Camp. Five of those players went on to win the Heisman ( McFadden becomes the 2nd player not to)
• Larry Johnson was the first without winning the Heisman even though he brought home the Walter Camp, Doak Walker, and the Maxwell.

9 Players have won both the Maxwell and the O’Brien: Five went on to win the Heisman. Jason White won both in 04’ but won his Heisman in 03’ with just an O’Brien.

Like I had written in a previous article,the Heisman is inconsistent. At one point or another the talent portrayed by these athletes was rewarded. Slighting McFadden in this years Heisman race was worse than what Larry Johnson endured in 2002 in which he didn’t even finish second in the Heisman race. This is during the same year that he took home the other three most prestigious awards (Brad Banks takes the O’Brien and Runner Up position to Carson Palmer for the Heisman). It comes down to the issue that first the media won’t let him win it because he is a sophomore, the next you tell me that it was because his team wasn’t good enough. Arkansas finished with an 8-5 record, 3rd in SEC West with a conference record of 4-4 and lost in the Cotton Bowl to Missouri who finished fourth in the AP Poll. Instead you are going to give it to a sophomore whose team went 9-4 and sat third in SEC East with a 5-3 record. To top it off Florida with Tebow behind the helm lost in the Capital One Bowl to a Michigan team who was 18th in the final AP vote.

McFadden Deserved the Heisman. Take nothing away from a stellar individual effort from Tebow but were we ready to put him in place to join Griffin as the only two time winner, or God Forbid let him stand a top as a three time winner solidifying the mythical stature the media has created for him.

4Real Out....