College Football

So, we’re getting into the season, and the Heisman race looks to be wide open. Ron Dayne hasn’t been looking nearly as good as people expected him to, Drew Brees just lost a hard-fought game to Ohio State, and some-guy-whose-name-I-can’t-remember-but-was-in-the-running threw 2 interceptions and had two fumbles today. Seems like there’s no clear front-runner.

I would personally like to nominate the year’s most unlikely (but perhaps most deserving) pick. Chad Pennington. He’s the quarterback from Marshall. Marshall is currently ranked 12th in the nation, the highest ranking ever for a team in the MAC. Pennington has had stellar numbers throughout his career, not to mention the fact that his off-the-field attitude is one of the best in college football. The kid has a 3.8 GPA, which is almost unheard of for a 1st string college football player.

So, who’s gonna win the Heisman? Any thoughts?

They won? How can you tell?

Life is short. Make fun of it.

I’m not qualified to say who DESERVES to win the Heisman, but I suspect the guys who were anointed pre-season favorites are STILL the front-runners! Though neither Ron Dayne nor Drew Brees is having a brilliant year, both still stand strong chances of winning the HEisman.

Why? Because most of the Heisman voters don’t know any more about football than you and I do, and most don’t SEE any more games than you and I do. That’s not to say they’re dumb or dishonest- fact is, they just CAN’T keep up with all the college football players in America! There just isn’t enough time for ANYONE to watch all the candidates play each week.

So, what do they do? THey either

  1. Vote for a guy who puts up HUGE numbers for the season (like Andre Ware or Ty Detmer), regardless of whether you’ve seen him play, and regardless of whether he’s any good.

  2. Vote for a guy who puts up huge numbers in a big game on national TV (like Tim Brown or Charles Woodson), regardless of whether he’s been consistently great all season.

  3. Vote for the star player of the team ranked #1 late in the season. Charlie Ward and Gino Toretta were NOT great quarterbacks by any means, but they quarterbacked the #1 ranked teams… so they won the Heisman by default.

Or (in MOST cases)…

  1. Vote for one of the two or three guys who were most hyped at the start of the season- usually, this means a guy who was on the college football preview issue of Sports Illustrated. Bo Jackson, for instance, had a mediocre senior year, and so did Chuck Long. But it didn’t matter! Those two guys were on the S.I. pre-season cover, and so one of them HAD to win the Heisman!

Hey, I confess, if I were a sportswriter, I’d be little better. I watch several college football games each weekend, but I just don’t see enough teams play each week (especially West coast teams) to make an informed decision. I’d probably go with the herd, and vote for the guy I hear everybody talking about… or for the biggest star on the #1 team.

First off, Heisman Winner would have been a better subject heading, but thats all water under the bridge ;).

A couple of links to help you guys read up a bit.

I have confidence in the committee, and I think that most of them are quote qualified to vote. Some likely get lazy and don’t fulfill their duty, but i believe the majority do. Call me an optimist. I certainly think that the past winners “know more about it” than I do. I also think that is easy to keep tabs on all the canidates, I am an avid fan, and watch 5 games or so a Saturday, plus a couple of Thursday games. Now if I had the ESPN Game Plan and could see any game it would help to deflate the regional bias that the broadcast rights create. The trick is knowing who the canidates are.

This is a task taken on by the schools, not the reporters and broadcasters. Each school who feels they have a potential canidate will make up a huge media guide, and a variety of advertisement style toys that they give to the voters and media. These things highlight all the achievements, and talents he has, along with the big game and clutch performances. Presumably a bunch of personal data to sway a sentimetal vote. Based on these items the media begins to select a few likely canidates and adjusts their broadcasts accordingly. This gets the ball rolling. As the season rolls on the canidates get whitled down and the cream of the crop rise. There are always a bunch of great athletes having great years, but to win the Heisman, you need a great year, and school behind you, a good marketing strategy, a good personality, and alot of luck.

Who do I think deserves it so far, tough call. In years with no clear cut leader, it frequently the teams performance which is the tie breaker, that could happen this year.

Pennington has put up great numbers, but the quality of their opponents is suspect, and he has never played in a truly big game. Not a plus from an “intangibles” standpoint.

Peter Warrick is finished, no matter what happens with this crime, the sheer taint of him has ruined his chances, justifiably so IMHO.

Ron Dayne is still in the hunt and has shown up in the big games. He is a victim of the hype and is a rare canidate who is into the running as an underclassmen and senior. His year will need to be great compared to his past seasons, not the average year, and current competition. Thats too bad. The teams big loss to Cincinnati may hurt him, but he had a huge game that day, so go figure. Voters may recall him not playing in 3 full quarters in the first two games where he still had ~150 yards/game. He needs his team to finish strong.

Joey Hamilton has a good shot. He has had lots of turnover problems, and while putting up big totals, he makes alot of mistakes, and when looked at closely one may wonder how great those 12 TD’s are when he had 10 TOs. (stats are just an example) Fact is his team hasn’t be able to win the big game ever in his career. After the last few Charlie Ward type QB’s who got consideration, the voters may want someone who has a chance in the NFL.

Shaun Alexander is the best guy on paper right now, but is likely to fade as his team does in a long conference schedule. Also being a bit of a dark horse may hurt him. Early in the season this matters, but great numbers often speak up in December. If he and his team step up in big games, he will be tough to beat.

Travis Prentice is in the same boat as Pennington, and the small school voters could split and hurt both’s chances. All-time NCAA records do look nice though.

Drew Brees is looking great, and in the toughest schedule for a canidate is putting up great numbers. His team must win though.

Chris Redman could be the best NFL prospect and is close with Brees for best QB so far. Their numbers are close, but a ranked Purdue against a much tougher schudule (and defensively loaded) could overshadow a mediocre Louisville.

Bill Burke may get some consideration if MSU continues to win and makes a BCS appearance. He has gotten little press, but late season action is what is easily remebered. His biggest stumbling block if MSU wins out is going to be Plaxico Burress. He is the stud reciever for MSU, and is putting up huge numbers, and may be as good as Warrick in a more conventional role (no gimmicks like taking snaps and throwing passes in blowouts).

I imagine a couple of new guys will pop up in the coming weeks too.

If I were picking today I’d go with Drew Brees slightly over Shaun Alexander. No good reason other than regional preference and more live game spectation. Its a long season.

I didn’t say the Heisman voters were lazy or dumb- merely that, like every human being, they have a limited amount of time, and can’t possibly see every leading team or player more than once or twice per year, and sometimes not even that.

Example: Andre Ware won the Heisman during a season when Houston was on probation, and so none of their games were televised. In other words, the writers who voted for Andre Ware NEVER SAW HIM PLAY!!! They voted for him solely because of his big numbers. But I can tell you first hand that Houston’s offensive numbers were inflated because:

  1. They used the run-and-shoot offense.
  2. Houston coaches liked to run up 75-0 scores against hapless lower division opponents.

I’m NOT really blaming the writers- just pointing out how hard it is to cast an intelligent vote. Last season, I saw Tim Couch play twice. Only TWICE! Was he deserving of the Heisman? I don’t know! I only know he had a great reputation and good stats, but didn’t do anything too impressive in the two games I saw. IF Couch had put up big numbers in the few Kentucky games on national TV, he might have won!

If I were a voter, I’d have to base my vote either on stats or on the few games I see. And that’s a weak basis on which to pick the nation’s best college football player.

I mean, in BASEBALL, it’s different- even if I’d NEVER seen Manny Ramirez play this year, I could look at his stats, and conclude that he’s a worthy MVP candidate. Stats do NOT tell the story in football; a great qb in a grind-it-out offense (Bob Griese, e.g.) will never put up numbers as gaudy as a mediocre qb in a pass-happy system (David Klingler, or ANYBODY at Brigham Young).

The point is, your not voting and therefore your viewing habits are really relavant. Its not like the voters are you run of the mill fan, who has a full time job writing code. They are travelling reporters, and sports writers who get paid, and eputations that ride on knowing the game.

I watch alot of football. This year, only in week 6, I’ve seen Dayne play 5 times, Warrick play 4 times, Pennington twice, Burke and Burress three times, Brees 3 times, Alexander once, and Redman once. If I had a responsibility to vote, i imagine that I could make a very informed decision.

Sorry, “…aren’t really relavent…”

Sorry, DB. I know you’re from around here (Huntington, WV) and can understand why you’re so high on Pennington. However, I agree with Omniscient that Marshall hasn’t played anybody major. A player from let’s say the ACC or Big 10 with similar numbers is certainly going to look better.

(Disclaimer: I am a Marshall University hater and have been for years. It annoys the hell out of me that the football team is so good; but I still say they’re overrated.)


Bah humbug.

College football is what people watch when they’re waiting for the NFL season to start.

Quick-N-Dirty Aviation: Trading altitude for airspeed since 1992.

Bullshit, college is superior to the NFL in more ways than I can count. Money corrupts, college is kids playing for the love of the game, barring a few potential top draft choices, and they all started out with nothing more than a dream.

Shaun Alexander! ROOOOOLLL TIDE!!!

Hey, if you live in Alabama, you better be a college football fan or you will be a social outcast.

Hint for out-of-staters: If you’re in Alabama, never, ever, under any circumstances, criticize Bear Bryant. It’s more dangerous than spitting on a Bible in a room full of Baptists.

Its not junk - its a collection!

Ron Dayne has my vote.

Sigh… you win, Omniscient. Even though Andre Ware NEVER appeared on national TV the year he won the Heisman, the sportswriters were NOT voting blindly based on his inflated stats- they all went to the Astrodome every week, and saw how great he was, and voted for him purely on his merits.

They voted for Charlie Ward and Gino Torretta because, damn it, they were the BEST DAMN college football players in America… not because they couldn’t think of anybody better.

Those brilliant, aggressive sportswriters flocked to Provo every week to see Ty Detmer. They would NEVER be swayed simply by big numbers.

Truth is, even is we assume that professional sportswriters know more about football than you and I do (usually, though not always, a safe assumption), they don’t see any more games than we do. Indeed, a beat writer for a college football team sees FEWER games than we do. Example: Austin reporter Kirk Bohls, who covers the Texas Longhorns, gets a Heisman vote. On a Saturday when U.T. is playing, he’s at Amemorial Stadium early in the morning, getting pre-game interviews. After the game, he’s STILL at Memorial Stadium doing post-game interviews. All in all, he’s going to spend practically the entire day at Memorial Stadium. In that SAME time span, I’ve seen two complete games on TV, and throuygh channel surfing, I’ve seen portions of several others. Kirk has seen ONE game in its entirety.

Does this make Kirk Bohls lazy or stupid? No. But the fact remains, he is an EXPERT on exactly one team: the Longhorns. IF he voted for Ricky WIlliams last year (I assume he did), he cast an informed decision. But Kirk is no more qualified to judge how good Ron Dayne is than I am. He hasn’t seen any more of Peter Warrick than I have.

In the same way, college footbvall coaches know TONS more about football than I do… but they have tunnel vision. They HAVE to. Joe Paterno has probably studied hours of film on Big Ten teams he faces this year, so his opinion of Drew Brees or Ron Dayne carries a lot of weight. But with his workload, he doesn’t have time to watch games featuring teams outside his conference who aren’t on his schedule. Joe is brilliant, but he hasn’t seen any more of the SEC’s stars than I have. Hence, his vote for the national champion doesn’t carry much weight with me either.

Well, I never said that they were perfect, but I am sticking by the assumption that these guys knowing they are resposible for doling out the award are going to see to it that they are well informed. Obviously no one can see every game, and the primetime, nationally televised games are weighted heavily, but that doesn’t mean a player doesn’t deserve the award if hes only seen twice. Primetime is critical, and stepping up in the games on nationally against top ranked opponents is important and a few big games can be more impressive than steady success against average teams. Local preferances are huge, and the factors which influence the voters are many, stats being a very big factor. While true that stats rarely tell the whole story, they never lie. And the competition is easily quantified. Stats cannot be treated as a completely unsatisfactory consideration, but they obviously can’t be taken alone either. As for the Andre Ware debocale, it was a unlikely senario, but with his numbers one must consider him. He was likely seen in a huge number of films and highlight collection. HU knowing that it wasn’t televised most certainly sent all the voters tapes containing highlights and game film. So its not like the voters were just looking at a sheet of numbers.

Ron Dayne, but I live in Madison, WI, so I am biased towards him. I have been watching Dayne all four of his years now. Franky, I am surprised he has gotten so many yards. He just doesn’t look that good when I watch. His best year was as a Freshmen and he has been declining since. He rarely has good games against good teams (Michigan, Ohio St, …). He is so big, but he doesn’t seem to “bowl over” defenses like I would expect.

Nonetheless, his yardage totals are impressive. The all-time big 10 leader, and he has a chance to break Ricky Williams record as the all-time college leader. If he breaks that record, I think he is a sinch for the Heisman. Also, the recent problems of Peter Warrick in FSU help Dayne’s chances.

I was at the Purdue-Wisconsin game last year and saw both Brees and Dayne play. Wow, what a game! UW won, but Brees set new big 10 and NCAA records for pass attempts and completions in a game.

BenDover wrote:

Doesn’t sound too dangerous – assuming the bible spat upon isn’t the King James translation. :wink: