Well, here we go again. It is that time of year, where the best college football players are awarded trophies and plaques for their accolades. While there are many awards and several added each year the following are well recognized:
Maxwell Award (Outstanding Player)
Walter Camp (Player of the Year)
Doak Walker (National Running Back Award)
Davey O’Brien Award (National Quarterback Award)
Jonny Unitas Golden Arm Award (Outstanding Senior Quarterback)
Fred Biletnikoff Award (Outstanding Wide Receiver)
John Mackey Award (Outstanding Tight End)
Outland Trophy (Outstanding Interior Lineman)
Vince Lombardi/Rotary Award (Outstanding Lineman)
Rimington Trophy (Outstanding Center)
Chuck Bednarik (Defensive Player of the Year)
Bronko Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Dick Butkus Award (Outstanding Linebacker)
Jim Thorpe Award (Outstanding Defensive Back)
Lou Groza Award (Collegiate Place-Kicker Award)
Ray Guy Award (Outstanding Punter)
Ted Hendricks Award (Defensive End of Year Award)
Campbell Trophy (Top Scholar Athlete)
Walter Payton Award (I-AA Offensive Player of the Year)
Buck Buchanan Award (I-AA Defensive Player of the Year)
Harlon Hill Trophy (NCAA Division II Outstanding Player)
Gagliardi Trophy (NCAA Division III Outstanding Player)
The Heisman Trophy is named after a man who was a native of Cleveland, Ohio. John William Heisman grew up in the oil fields of northwest Pennsylvania, in a small town named Titusville, where he was introduced to a form of football that looked like a mix of soccer and rugby. He attended Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania where he was a varsity member despite being small in stature (5-8, 158). He played all offensive line positions. What a difference 123 years makes in the total evolution of the game and human body! A man that lost a large portion of his eyesight due to a lightning incident, he then went on to have a successful coaching career with stops at Auburn, Clemson, Penn, Washington & Jefferson, Rice and Georgia Tech.
After his retirement from football, he played a major part in the growth and development of the game. In 1930, he became the first athletics director of the Downtown Athletic Club of New York, and was the founder of a group I joined in 1990, the National Football Coaches Association. The Downtown Athletic Club created an award that was handed out yearly to the best player in college football. When John W. Heisman died in 1936, the organization voted to name the club award the Heisman, which passed unanimously and thus the Heisman Trophy was created.
With all organizations comes a mission statement, and for this annual award they recognize the most outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners must epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance and hard work, a student-athlete of an accredited university or college. The student-athlete must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA student-athlete.
The famous bronze trophy is of a running back using the side-step move taught to running backs years ago, finishing with a stiff arm. The Heisman Trophy weighs 45 pounds, standing 13 inches tall, 14 inches long and 6½ inches wide. In 1934, The Downtown Athletic Club commissioned sculptor Frank Eliscu, who chose a friend and member of the New York University football team, Ed Smith, as the model.
The Downtown Athletic Club turned the voting over to journalists throughout the United States, who see the performances of the collegiate talent on a yearly basis. Sectional representatives were appointed and are responsible for assigning journalists within the states they are responsible for. The country is divided into six sectors:
Far West (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming).
Mid-Atlantic (District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia).
Midwest (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin).
Northeast (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York City, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont).
South (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee).
Southwest (Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas).
There are 145 media votes in each section, totaling 870. In addition, there are 56 former winners that vote and a fan survey counts for one vote. The voters get three choices. The first is worth three points, the second choice is worth two points and the third choice is worth one. All ballots mailed must be signed and are not valid unless a signature from the media member appears on the ballot. The point system was created to curb favoritism, while more than 90 percent of the votes are transmitted electronically.
The last five winners were quarterbacks with the exception of 2009 winner Mark Ingram.
2006 Troy Smith Ohio State 2,540
2007 Tim Tebow Florida 1,957
2008 Sam Bradford Oklahoma 1,726
2009 Mark Ingram Alabama 1,304
2010 Cam Newton Auburn 2,263
Players that received the most ever votes since 1935:
1968 O.J. Simpson USC 2,853
2006 Troy Smith Ohio State 2,540
1998 Ricky Williams Texas 2,355
1993 Charlie Ward Florida State 2,310
2010 Cam Newton Auburn 2,263
1970 Jim Plunkett Stanford 2,229
1986 Vinny Testaverde Miami 2,213
Not only is the Heisman the oldest and most prestigious award, it is the most celebrated and sought-after award in American collegiate athletics.
Let’s talk about the five finalists for this year’s Heisman, none of whom are senior:
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (junior): Coming into the 2011 season was the odds-on favorite, hands down. But, as Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friends.” Luck played well with the weapons he was dealt this season. His offense was geared around running backs and a tight-end passing game, so overall numbers were down. He played very well in several games, but struggled down the stretch in the big games to deliver big numbers against top competition. He passed for 3,170 yards and 35 touchdowns. Stanford finished fourth in the BCS standings and will face Oklahoma State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu (sophomore): An extremely freaky athlete and dual threat as a cornerback and punt returner. Finished 2011 season with two interceptions, 71 tackles and was named the SEC’s defensive player of the year. He also returned 26 punts for an average of 16.2 yards and scored two touchdowns. When you turn on the film, this player really jumps out at you in coverage, blitzing, open-field tackling and returning punts for great production if not touchdowns. A true play-maker and difference-maker every game. He has struggled with a few off-field issues, which he has overcome.
Alabama running back Trent Richardson (junior): Runs with a low center of gravity, with collision and power, lower-body explosion with burst and acceleration to open space. Richardson has 263 carries for 1,583 yards and 20 touchdowns. The thing I like the most is the yards after contact production. He can drag the pile with second effort and desire.
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball (junior): He is extremely productive in short-yardage and red-zone production in the form of 275 carries, 1,759 yards and 32 touchdowns. He will face an aggressive Oregon Ducks defense in Rose Bowl. While I like his run style and overall production he would finish last in the voting.
If I had a ballot, I would vote for Baylor quarterback RG3, Robert Griffin III (junior): He has passed for 3,998 yards and 38 touchdowns, leading the Bears to a No. 12 ranking in the BCS standings. They finished with a 9-3 overall record and will face my alma mater, the Washington Huskies, in the Valero Alamo Bowl. I hope the Husky defense is up for the challenge, because RG3 will come with full force.
I look forward to watching the 77th annual Heisman Memorial Trophy Award show, which will be presented on Saturday, Dec. 10, in New York City on ESPN.