February 21, 2018

A Husky Heisman



Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch is the best player in college football and deserves to win the Heisman Trophy.

Lynch ran through bitter cold and persistent snow for 321 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-14 victory over Western Michigan in DeKalb on Tuesday night, breaking his own NCAA record for single game rushing yards for a QB.

Lynch now has 1,755 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns for the season and, with Tuesday’s victory, the Huskies completed a 12-0 regular season and will face either Bowling Green or Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference championship game on December 6.

Number 6 also threw one TD pass against the Broncos, giving him 22 for the year against just five interceptions and he has passed for more than 2,200 yards.  Lynch is now just the fifth FBS quarterback with at least 4,000 yards rushing and 5,000 yards passing for his college career.

NIU never lost a home game with Lynch at quarterback, has never lost to a MAC opponent and he is 24-2 overall as a starter.

Jordan Lynch is tough as a bull, nimble as a deer and humble as a Buddhist.  His teammates love him and he makes everyone better.

No team in the nation relies on one player more than Northern Illinois leans on Jordan Lynch; therefore he’s the most valuable player in college football.  Or does that just reflect the thinking that NIU is in a lower-tier conference and if Lynch played in the SEC he would be a second-string fullback?

Lynch is six-feet tall, 216 pounds and routinely outruns defensive backs.  They are MAC defensive backs but he’s more than the MAC Daddy.  There are 71 MAC players on NFL rosters this year including last spring’s top overall pick, Eric Fisher.  The MAC is a good conference and Lynch is a transcendent player.

Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron has a better team than Lynch, Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel has more press, (good and bad) so does Florida State signal caller Jameis Winston.  They are great players, as are many others.  But Lynch has outplayed all of them.

The Heisman Trust says the Heisman Memorial Trophy “annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.  Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance and hard work.”

In other words: Jordan Lynch.


Leatherheads Heisman Poll for 2012

Tonight, the 78th Heisman Trophy winner will be announced on ESPN with three finalists waiting in the audience.  The three finalists are Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, Texas A&M quaterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o.

In anticipation of tonight’s announcement, Leatherheads of the Gridiron polled 18 of its contributors to see who we think will be the next name added to the elite list of college football greats who can say they are a Heisman Trophy recipient.  Our voters followed the same format as the Heisman voters: 3 points for our number one choice, 2 for our second choice and 3 for our third choice.  Last season, Leatherheads had a tie for the award with both Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Alabama’s Trent Richardson finishing first, although RG3 had more first place votes.  RG3 ended up winning the trophy while Stanford’s Andrew Luck was second and Richardson finishing in third place.  Click here for results.

We had 18 voters allocate their votes to ten different players.  A few names missing that have been mentioned as possible winners at the beginning of the season and along the way include USC QB Matt Barkley, Oklahoma QB Landry Jones, South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore, Alabama QB A.J. McCarron, Georgia QB Aaron Murray, Michigan QB Denard Robinson, Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor, Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas and Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson.  Also missing is LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu who finished fifth in the voting last year and was dismissed from the team before the season for his drug use.  A sad story.  Hopefully, he can turn his life around and make it in the NFL in some capacity.

Our candidates in alphabetical order are as follows:

Montee Ball
Ball is a running back for the 8-5, Rose Bowl-bound Wisconsin Badgers.  The senior is ranked third in rushing with 1,730 yards and is tied for eighth with 21 touchdowns.  Last year he finished fourth in the Heisman voting.  Over the last two seasons, he has rushed for 3,653 yards and scored an amazing 60 touchdowns.

Kenjon Barner
Barner is a running back for Oregon.  The Ducks are 11-1 and heading to play in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.  Barner ranks seventh in rushing with 1,624 yards and is tied for fourth with 22 touchdowns.  The senior rushed for 321 yards and five TDs on November 3 against the USC Trojans.

Jarvis Jones
Jones is a linebacker for the Georgia Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs are 11-2 and will be playing in the Capital One Bowl.   The junior is the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time All-American.  His 12.5 sacks are tied for fourth in the nation.

Collin Klein
Klein is the quarterback for the 11-1 Kansas State Wildcats and will be playing against Barner and his Ducks teammates in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.  Klein, a senior, led the Wildcats to 10-straight victories before losing to Baylor on November 17.  He has scored 22 touchdowns, tied for fourth in the nation.  Over the last two seasons, the former wide receiver has passed for 4,408 yards and 28 TDs with 13 INTs while rushing for 2,031 yards and 49 TDs.

Marqise Lee
Lee is a wide receiver for the USC Trojans.  The sophomore leads the nation with 112 receptions, is second with 1,680 yards, and ranks third in TD catches with 14.  He has also returned 28 kickoffs for 802 yards and a score.  In two seasons, Lee has 185 catches for 2,823 yards and 25 scores.

Jordan Lynch
Lynch is a junior quarterback for Northern Illionois.  He has led the 12-1 Huskies to the Orange Bowl.  He leads the nation in rushing with 1,771 yards, a record for FBS quarterbacks.  He has thrown for 2,942 yards with 24 TDs and just 5 INTs.  He also has 19 rushing touchdowns.

Johnny Manziel
Manziel is a freshman quarterback for the 10-2, Cotton Bowl-bound Texas A&M Aggies.  Johnny Football, as he is called, gained national promience when he led his team to a 29-24 victory over #1 ranked Alabama.  Manziel has passed for 3,419 yards, 24 TDs with 8 INTs while running for 1,181 yards and 19 TDs.

Braxton Miller
Miller is the quarterback for the 12-0 Ohio State Buckeyes and the Big Ten Player of the Year. The Buckeyes were not eligible for the Big Ten championship or a bowl game this season while on probation for past NCAA violations. The sophomore rushed for 1,271 yards with 13 TDs while passing for 2,039 yards and 15 TDs.

Geno Smith
Smith is the quarterback for West Virginia.  The senior is ranked first with 40 passes for touchdowns, fourth with 4,004 passing yards, and sixth with a 164.6 QB rating.  On September 29 against Baylor, he threw for 656 yards and 8 TDs.  Over the last two seasons, he has thrown for 8,389 yards with 71 TDs and just 13 INTs.  The 7-5 Mountaineers will play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

Manti Te’o
Te’o is the middle linebacker for the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  The senior is tied for second in the nation with 7 interceptions and has made 101 tackles this season.  He has already won several awards this season, including the Maxwell Award.  He will play in the BCS National Championship Game, hoping to lead his team to a 13-0 record and a national championship.

Rank Player First Second Third Total
   1 Johnny Manziel 27 (9)   6 (3)   5 (5)   38
   2 Manti Te’o 21 (7) 12 (6) 3.5 (3.5)   36.5
   3 Collin Klein   6 (2) 10 (5)   5 (5)   21
   4 Braxton Miller   0 (0)   4 (2)   0 (0)     4
   5 (Tie) Montee Ball   0 (0)   2 (1)   0 (0)     2
   5 (Tie) Jordan Lynch   0 (0)   0 (0)   2 (2)     2
   5 (Tie) Geno Smith   0 (0)   2 (1)   0 (0)     2
   8 (Tie) Kenjon Barner   0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
   8 (Tie) Marqise Lee   0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
 10 Jarvis Jones   0 (0)   0 (0)   .5 (.5)      .5


So the winner of our poll is Johnny Football, the freshman.  A few of our voters could not vote for him in the number one spot just because he is a freshman.  One Leatherhead stated, “Sorry I do not feel Manziel is worthy of the trophy being only a freshman, let us see what he can do next year.”  I disagree with that thinking since the play is based on this season.  I personally picked Manziel number one, largely for his play in the SEC which is clearly, in my mind and many others, the top conference in college football.

Another Leatherhead would disagree with me making Manziel my top choice, “If raw statistics alone is your game, he’s your winner.  But if you actually take a closer look….he piled up great numbers against some terrible defensive teams. How did he do in the big games?  He completely failed to drive the offense in the second half of A&M’s loss to Florida, and threw 3 interceptions and was held to 27 yards rushing in the loss to LSU.  So that leaves the Alabama game – you’re voting a freshman the Heisman on the basis of one game.  Which means, in his college career, he has as many arrests as big-game victories.”  Ouch!

The arrest refers to an incident last summer when he got in a fight and produced fake identification to a police officer.  Should this count against his chance of winning the Heisman?  I personally do not since it has nothing to do with play on the field.  But it might.  Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans did for that reason.  He stated, “I don’t consider players with pending criminal charges.”

Enough about Manziel.  Leatherhead Tex Noel stated about Klein, “He’s an exciting player to watch. He thinks well on his feet as he eludes the defender or diving into the end zone. His passes are straight and on the mark. Without a doubt, Kansas State would not be the same without him.”

Tex has some good words for Te’o fans as well, “One of the best players the Irish have had in some time. He’s fearless as he makes plays sideline-to-sideline. You can’t stop him; you can only hope to contain him–maybe with a brick wall.”

So the top three finalists are the Leatherheads’ top three.  Early in the season I thought it would be Geno Smith, hands down.  Then the Mountaineers couldn’t stop losing.

I most note that one voter could not pick between Te’o and Jones with their third-place vote.  He declared it a tie and I let it go since no harm was done.  He stated, “I know, it’s a cop-out to do a tie but I can’t separate the two. Te’o is on a higher profile team and rightfully deserves his accolades, but Jones is every bit as special and actually runs sideline to sideline better.”

This is the word from Leatherheads of the Gridiron.  Johnny Football will add his name to the elite list of Heisman Trophy winners.  Will that actually happen?  We will all find out shortly.  Either way, all three finalists had a special season.


Participating voters: David Boyce, Bo Carter, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob LazzariJim Lefebvre, Chris Mascaro, Dan McCloskey, Andrew McKillop, Tex Noel, Michelle Nolan, Pete Sonski, Bob Stevenson, Bob Swick, Dan Totten, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.


Remember RG3…in the Valero Alamo Bowl!

Throughout its 143-year history, college football has showcased many outstanding players—long to be remembered for various accomplishments, including spectacular plays, leading a team to a national championship or for winning one of college football’s annual awards.

Of all the hardware that has been awarded, one brings back memories of the previous winners simply by mentioning its name.

This award is the Heisman Trophy, awarded since 1935.

Like with life itself, many surprises have been associated with this award.

It has been said that a player who wins the award often wins as a result of an outstanding season and from the backing of a poet (writer) in the press box.

Some schools present a full-blown ad campaign similar to a person running for political office while others let their players’ accomplishments speak for themselves.

The majority of the players winning this award came from winning teams. One player won from a school that finished the season with an equal amount of wins and losses (Jay Berwanger, the first recipient of the award). Another player won from a sub-.500 team: Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung in 1956. His team finished 2-8-0.

A complete breakdown of each season since 1935 shows that 25 winners never participated in the postseason—including 19 of the first 22 honorees.

Since 1970, Houston’s Andre Ware, the 1989 awardee, is the only Heisman winner not to play in a postseason game.

Of the remaining 52 former winners, 43 have gone on to play in a bowl game that would be considered—in today’s terms—a “BCS Bowl Game.”


"BCS Bowls"       Games      W-L
Orange              10       7-3
Rose                11       6-5
Cotton               7       4-3
Sugar                8       3-5
BCS Title Game       4       2-2
Fiesta               3       1-2


Baylor’s Robert Griffin III was selected as the 2011 Heisman Trophy Winner. Not only was he chosen to be the first winner from Baylor, but his selection also broke a string of two consecutive winners that would lead his team to the National Championship.

Davey O’Brien was the first Heisman Trophy winner to lead his team to the National Championship. There have been 15 in total.


Year     Winner              Team
1938     Davey O'Brien       Texas Christian
1941     Bruce Smith         Minnesota
1943     Angelo Bertelli     Notre Dame
1945     Doc Blanchard       Army
1947     Johnny Lujack       Notre Dame
1949     Leon Hart           Notre Dame
1976     Tony Dorsett        Pittsburgh
1986     Vinny Testaverde    Miami
1993     Charlie Ward        Florida State
1996     Danny Wuerffel      Florida
1997     Charles Woodson     Michigan
2004     Matt Leinart        USC
2005     Reggie Bush*        USC
2009     Mark Ingram         Alabama
2010     Cam Newton          Auburn
*Heisman Trophy later vacated


RG3 became the ninth winner of this prestigious award to play in what can be classified as “Non-BCS Bowl Game.” Griffin led the Bears to the Alamo Bowl; the first time a Heisman winner would play in this game.


"Non-BCS Bowls"   Games      W-L
Liberty              2       2-0
Alamo                1       1-0
Holiday              2       1-1
Capital One          1       0-1
Citrus               1       0-1
Gator                2       0-2


Let’s take a closer look at the nine players who won college football’s most prestigious award, but did not showcase their abilities on the stage of a “BCS Bowl Game.”

Interestingly, the first two Heisman Trophy winners to play in a “Non-BCS Bowl Game” came in back-to-back seasons (1961-62), but then not again until the 1988 season; a year when college football would see many of its records fall as Barry Sanders established many standards.


Heisman Trophy Winners that played in and won a “Non-BCS Bowl Game”:

  • 1961 Ernie Davis, Syracuse, Liberty (30-140/rushing)
  • 1962 Terry Baker, Oregon State, Liberty (9-21, 123/passing)
  • 1988 Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, Holiday (29-222/rushing)
  • 2011 Robert Griffin III, Baylor, Alamo (24-33, 295/passing)

Heisman Trophy Winners that played in and lost a “Non-BCS Bowl Game”:

  • 1957 John David Crow, Texas A&M, Gator (14-46/rushing)
  • 1980 George Rogers, South Carolina, Gator (27-113/rushing)
  • 1990 Ty Detmer, BYU, Holiday (11-23, 120/passing)
  • 1995 Eddie George, Ohio State, Citrus (25-101/rushing)
  • 2007 Tim Tebow, Florida, Capital One (17-33, 154/passing)


In a couple of these “Non-BCS Bowl Games” that the Heisman winner would play in, their teams displayed offensive fireworks that lit up the scoreboard.

Capping his last year in Stillwater, Barry Sanders found the end zone five times in leading his team to a 62-14 wipe out of Wyoming.

In the most recent such game, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III would only score twice, but would orchestrate many of the Bears many comebacks in its match-up with Washington, winning 67-53. This would be highest scoring game in bowl history for a game played in regulation.


Here is a summary of the Heisman Trophy winners in the postseason:


Year Winner           Team             Bowl        Opponent        D   Score
1935 Jay Berwanger    Chicago          None
1936 Larry Kelley     Yale             None
1937 Clint Frank      Yale             None
1938 Davey O'Brien    Texas Christian  Sugar       Carnegie Tech   W    15-7
1939 Nile Kinnick     Iowa             None
1940 Tom Harmon       Michigan         None
1941 Bruce Smith      Minnesota        None
1942 Frank Sinkwich   Georgia          Rose        UCLA            W     9-0
1943 Angelo Bertelli  Notre Dame       None
1944 Les Horvath      Ohio State       None
1945 Doc Blanchard    Army             None
1946 Glenn Davis      Army             None
1947 Johnny Lujack    Notre Dame       None
1948 Doak Walker      SMU              Cotton      Oregon          W   21-13
1949 Leon Hart        Notre Dame       None
1950 Vic Janowicz     Ohio State       None
1951 Dick Kazmaier    Princeton        None
1952 Billy Vessels    Oklahoma         None
1953 Johnny Lattner   Notre Dame       None
1954 Alan Ameche      Wisconsin        None
1955 Howard Cassady   Ohio State       None
1956 Paul Hornung     Notre Dame       None
1957 John David Crow  Texas A&M        Gator       Tennessee       L     0-3
1958 Pete Dawkins     Army             None
1959 Billy Cannon     LSU              Sugar       Ole Miss        L    0-21
1960 Joe Bellino      Navy             Orange      Missouri        L   14-21
1961 Ernie Davis      Syracuse         Liberty     Miami           W   15-14
1962 Terry Baker      Oregon State     Liberty     Villanova       W     6-0
1963 Roger Staubach   Navy             Cotton      Texas           L    6-28
1964 John Huarte      Notre Dame       None
1965 Mike Garrett     USC              None
1966 Steve Spurrier   Florida          Orange      Georgia Tech    W   27-12
1967 Gary Beban       UCLA             None
1968 O.J. Simpson     USC              Rose        Ohio State      L   16-27
1969 Steve Owens      Oklahoma         None
1970 Jim Plunkett     Stanford         Rose        Ohio State      W   27-17
1971 Pat Sullivan     Auburn           Sugar       Oklahoma        L   22-40
1972 Johnny Rodgers   Nebraska         Orange      Notre Dame      W    40-6
1973 John Cappelletti Penn State       Orange      LSU             W    16-9
1974 Archie Griffin   Ohio State       Rose        USC             L   17-18
1975 Archie Griffin   Ohio State       Rose        UCLA            L   10-23
1976 Tony Dorsett     Pittsburgh       Sugar       Georgia         W    27-3
1977 Earl Campbell    Texas            Cotton      Notre Dame      L   38-10
1978 Billy Sims       Oklahoma         Orange      Nebraska        W   31-24
1979 Charles White    USC              Rose        Ohio State      W   17-16
1980 George Rogers    South Carolina   Gator       Pittsburgh      L    9-37
1981 Marcus Allen     USC              Fiesta      Penn State      L   10-26
1982 Herschel Walker  Georgia          Sugar       Penn State      L   23-27
1983 Mike Rozier      Nebraska         Orange      Miami           L   30-31
1984 Doug Flutie      Boston College   Cotton      Houston         W   45-28
1985 Bo Jackson       Auburn           Cotton      Texas A&M       L   16-36
1986 Vinny Testaverde Miami            Fiesta      Penn State      L   10-14
1987 Tim Brown        Notre Dame       Cotton      Texas A&M       L   10-35
1988 Barry Sanders    Oklahoma State   Holiday     Wyoming         W   62-14
1989 Andre Ware       Houston          None
1990 Ty Detmer        Brigham Young    Holiday     Texas A&M       L   14-65
1991 Desmond Howard   Michigan         Rose        Washington      L   14-34
1992 Gino Torretta    Miami            Sugar       Alabama         L   13-34
1993 Charlie Ward     Florida State    Orange      Nebraska        W   18-16
1994 Rashaan Salaam   Colorado         Fiesta      Notre Dame      W   41-24
1995 Eddie George     Ohio State       Citrus      Tennessee       L   14-20
1996 Danny Wuerffel   Florida          Sugar       Florida State   W   52-20
1997 Charles Woodson  Michigan         Rose        Washington St.  W   21-16
1998 Ricky Williams   Texas            Cotton      Mississippi St. W   38-11
1999 Ron Dayne        Wisconsin        Rose        Stanford        W    17-9
2000 Chris Weinke     Florida State    Orange      Oklahoma        L    2-13
2001 Eric Crouch      Nebraska         Rose        Miami           L   14-37
2002 Carson Palmer    USC              Orange      Iowa            W   38-17
2003 Jason White      Oklahoma         Sugar       LSU             L   14-21
2004 Matt Leinart     USC              Orange      Oklahoma        W   55-19
2005 Reggie Bush      USC              Rose        Texas           L   38-41
2006 Troy Smith       Ohio State       BCS Title   Florida         L   14-41
2007 Tim Tebow        Florida          Capital One Michigan        L   35-41
2008 Sam Bradford     Oklahoma         BCS Title   Florida         L   14-24
2009 Mark Ingram      Alabama          BCS Title   Texas           W   37-21
2010 Cam Newton       Auburn           BCS Title   Oregon          W   22-19
2011 Robert Griffin   Baylor           Alamo       Washington      W   67-53


Leatherheads Heisman Poll

Tonight the 77th Heisman Trophy winner will be announced on ESPN with five finalists waiting in the audience.  The five finalists are Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, and Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

In anticipation of College Football’s most prestigious award, we here at Leatherheads of the Gridiron took it upon ourselves to pick who we think should be the Heisman winner. Our voters followed the same format as the Heisman voters: 3 points for our number one choice, 2 for our second choice and 3 for our third choice.

We had ten voters allocate their votes to nine different players.  Absent from receiving any votes is Tyrann Mathieu, the winner of this year’s Bednarik Award.  The Heisman has been given to a primarily offensive player each year except 1997 when Michigan cornerback and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Woodson won.  Sorry Tyrann, we do not believe you will win the award.

Our candidates in alphabetical order are as follows:

Montee Ball
Ball is a running back for the 11-2, Rose Bowl-bound University of Wisconsin Badgers.  A junior, Ball has so far this season led the nation in total rushing yards with 1,759 and rushing touchdowns with 32.  He has also caught 20 passes with 6 receiving touchdowns.  His 230 points scored also leads the nation, 74 points more than the number two scorer Collin Klein of Kansas State.

Matt Barkley
Barkley is the quarterback for the USC Trojans.  The junior has led them to a 10-2 record and currently ranks eighth in QB rating (161.2) with 3,528 yards, a 69.1 completion percentage and 39 touchdowns (third in the nation) versus just 7 interceptions. USC is bowl ineligible so his season is complete.

Robert Griffin III
Griffin, also known as RG3, is the quarterback for the 9-3 Baylor Bears.  Griffin, a junior, leads the nation in QB rating with an impressive 192.3 rating.  He is fifth in the nation with a 72.4 completion percentage, sixth in passing yards with 3,998, fourth in TD passes with 36 while just tossing 6 interceptions.  He leads the nation in yards per passing attempt at 10.8 and has also rushed for 644 yards and 9 TDs.

LaMichael James
James is a running back for the 11-2, Rose Bowl-bound Oregon Ducks. The junior is currently fourth in the nation with 1,646 rushing yards and tied for ninth with 17 rushing touchdowns.  He has also caught 17 balls for 210 yards with a TD and has returned 14 punts, including a 58-yard touchdown against Nevada.

Case Keenum
Keenum is the throwing machine for the 12-1, Ticket City Bowl-bound Houston Cougars.  The redshirt senior QB leads the nation in passing yards with 5,099 and passing TDs with 45.  He ranks sixth with a 71.7 completion percentage, third in yards per passing attempt with 9.5 and is third in QB rating at 177.9 while throwing just 5 interceptions.

Andrew Luck
Luck is the red-shirt junior quarterback for the 11-1, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl-bound Stanford Cardinal. Luck, the 2011 Camp, Maxwell and Unitas Awards winner, has thrown for 3,170 yards with the ninth best completion percentage (70.0), fifth most passing TDs (35) and the fifth best QB rating (167.5).  He was the Heisman runner-up last season, losing out to Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.

Kellen Moore
Moore is the quarterback of the 11-1, MAACO Bowl-bound Boise State Broncos. The redshirt senior has thrown for 3,507 yards and is second in the nation with 41 TD passes.  His 177.9 QB rating ranks third and has thrown just 7 interceptions.  Moore was a Heisman finalist last season, finishing fourth in the voting.

Trent Richardson
Richardson is a junior running back for the 11-1, BCS Championship Bowl-bound Alabama Crimson Tide. The Doak Walker Award winner ranks sixth in rushing yards with 1,583 yards and fifth in rushing TDs with 20.  He has caught 27 passes for 327 yards with 3 scores and is tied for fourth in overall scoring with 138 points.

Denard Robinson
Robinson, a junior quarterback for the 10-2, Allstate Sugar Bowl-bound Michigan Wolverines is one of the most exciting players in college football.  He has passed for 2,056 yards and 18 TDs with a QB rating of 142.2 (38th) while throwing 14 interceptions.  On the ground, he has rushed for 1,163 yards and 16 TDs.

So what did our Leatherhead brethren come up with?

Drum Roll Please…

                  First  Second   Third  Total
Griffin           9 (3)   2 (1)   2 (2)    13
Richardson        3 (1)   8 (4)   2 (2)    13
Ball              9 (3)   2 (1)   0 (0)    11
Luck              3 (1)   6 (3)   1 (1)    10
Keenum            6 (2)   0 (0)   2 (2)     8
Robinson          0 (0)   2 (1)   0 (0)     2
Barkley           0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
James             0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
Moore             0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1


So Griffin and Richardson tie with RG3 getting more first place votes (3 to 1) while Richardson having more people voting for him, including more second place votes (4 to 1). I feel that Griffin will win tonight with Richardson finishing second. Ball and Luck will be 3 and 4, although I can not predict which order. Mathieu should be fifth.

I personally voted for Ball to win the award with Richardson second. When I think of the Heisman, running backs rank higher to me than QBs and other positions. Why? Could it be that when growing up running backs won the award from 1973 to 1983? Flutie screwed everything up with his Hail Marry pass in 1984.

Anyway, Ball has had a monster statistical season with one game left to break past Heisman winner Barry Sander’s single-season Football Bowl Subdivision touchdown record of 39 that he set during the 1988 season. Richardson is just a monster and can not wait to see him run in the NFL.

My third choice was Keenum. Why? I love those guys on perceived lessor teams that light it up with 9 TDs in a game. Timmy Chang anyone? If Houston had defeated Southern Mississippi, I probably would have had him number one. But he lost.

I could have easily voted for Griffin as my number 3. Afterall, his nickname is RG3.


Participating voters: David Boyce, Bo Carter, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Dan McCloskey, Tex Noel, Pete Sonski, Bob Swick, Joe Williams.


Herschel Walker Signs with USFL (1983)

Football fans received stunning news on February 23, 1983 as the new United States Football League (USFL), slated to begin play in just a few weeks, announced the signing of Heisman Trophy-winning RB Herschel Walker to a contract with the New Jersey Generals. There had been something of a false start earlier in the month when Walker, whose agent had been in contact with the league for some two months, signed but then took advantage of a 24-hour escape clause to back away. However, this time it was a done deal and the 6’1”, 220-pound phenom, just short of his 21st birthday, was officially a professional.

The news was both surprising and controversial. Walker, who had been a Heisman candidate since his freshman year at Georgia in 1980 (he finished third in the voting), had won the award as a junior in ’82. It was widely anticipated that he would duplicate Archie Griffin’s feat of twice attaining the Heisman trophy, especially since at the time it wasn’t possible for underclassmen to enter the NFL draft.

The USFL had initially stated that it would follow the NFL’s no-underclassmen rule. It had also been the new league’s policy to take a go-slow approach to challenging the older league. They would be playing in the spring, rather than going directly head-to-head with the NFL in the fall, and payrolls were to be held to $1.6 million per club.

The payroll structure began to unravel even before the Walker signing as several major players coming out of college such as North Carolina’s RB Kelvin Bryant, Grambling WR Trumaine Johnson, and Michigan WR Anthony Carter had inked contracts that stretched their respective team payrolls beyond the limit (the owners used personal services contracts to circumvent the cap). Walker’s deal, which was a personal services contract with Generals owner J. Walter Duncan, came to $3.9 million for three years and included incentives that took the figure over $4.2 million.

Both the NFL and NCAA cried foul at the signing of the underclassman Walker, and several colleges banned the new league’s scouts from their campuses. USFL Commissioner Chet Simmons insisted that no other underclassmen would be signed and that Walker presented a “special case”. The truth was that, in having his agent approach the new league, Walker had already compromised his college eligibility for 1983, and had he pressed a court case, he might well have forced his way into the USFL through judicial decision (a threat of a lawsuit challenging the draft was something the NFL feared and ultimately led to its ending the ban on underclassmen).

There may have been plenty of controversy, but Herschel Walker was the biggest name in college football and a huge prize for the new league. Signing with the team that would play in the New York metropolitan area only enhanced the effect. It also assured that he would receive intense scrutiny, and when he started slowly (he gained just 65 yards on 16 carries in his first game, a nationally televised 20-15 loss to the Los Angeles Express) the criticism was quick to come. However, maintaining his composure throughout, Walker ended up leading the league in rushing with 1,812 yards over the course of the 18-game season, although the Generals were a disappointing 6-12.


Keith Yowell runs the blog Today in Pro Football History where this article was originally published on February 23, 2010.


Heisman 2011: A Week 4 Snapshot

In 1935, the Downtown Athletic Club in New York created an award for the most outstanding player in collegiate football. Eventually it was renamed in honor of the club’s athletic director, John Heisman. It has become one of the most prestigious annual awards in all of sports and pundits begin weighing in on potential winners in the preseason.

With each successive week the focus becomes sharper. By the time the award is presented in early December, there is typically an odds-on favorite. The interest is particularly keen this year, with a large field of candidates.  Here are some of the most commonly mentioned candidates.

Andrew Luck
The Stanford QB was runner-up in the Heisman balloting to Auburn’s Cam Newton last year. A redshirt junior, he surprised many by forgoing the NFL to play a third collegiate season. He was the preseason favorite and has performed well to date. Stanford had a week four bye, but Luck has led them to a 3-0 record with 786 passing yards on 57 completions. He has tossed eight TDs and only one INT.

Kellen Moore
A redshirt senior, Moore has led his Boise State Broncos to both prominence and BCS contention over his three seasons. Though a Heisman finalist last year, he is often dismissed by pundits due to his stature (6 ft. 0 in., 190 lbs.). His size hasn’t inhibited his success, however. Moore is 41-2 as a starting QB. He’s already thrown for 995 yards and 12 TDs this season (against two INTs). The Broncos are 4-0 and have their sights set on a national championship.

Marcus Lattimore
The South Carolina tailback burst on to the Heisman stage this year with 611 rushing yards and eight TDs. He also has a TD through the air and 139 receiving yards for the Gamecocks. Though only a sophomore, he has carried his team to a 4-0 record overall record and 2-0 in the SEC.

Robert Griffin III
The Baylor Bears don’t get a lot of attention, often being overshadowed by more prominent Big 12 schools. Their junior QB has brought them notoriety this season though. Once a player earns a universal nickname, his stock is bound to rise. “RG3” has earned a lot of Heisman mentions this season. His Bears are 3-0 and he has 962 passing yards and 13 TDs (with no INTs).

Landry Jones
The Oklahoma Sooners have enjoyed top billing in the weekly AP poll much of this season. Landry Jones is a primary reason for that prominence. The redshirt junior QB has 1,022 passing yards this season for the 3-0 Sooners. He has five TDs against four INTs.

Russell Wilson
Wilson is a redshirt senior QB for the Wisconsin Badgers, having transferred from North Carolina State, where he enjoyed much success in the ACC. He has led Wisconsin to a 4-0 start throwing for 1,136 yards and 11 TDs and one INT.

Geno Smith
Every writer is entitled to a dark horse candidate. I’ll take Geno Smith, junior QB for the West Virginia Mountaineers. Smith has thrown for 1,471 yards so far, with nine TDs and three INTs. West Virginia is 3-1, having lost to LSU last Saturday. Despite the loss Smith threw for 463 yards against the Tigers, one of the best defenses in the NCAA.

One other player who emerged last weekend with 288 yards rushing and two TDs is LaMichael James, a junior tailback for Oregon. During the preseason he was widely expected to be among the contenders, but has not had a Heisman performance until last Saturday against Arizona. Going forward he may find his way into the conversation.

These players all have impressive credentials, making for interesting competition. Unlike many recent years’ competition, this could be a toss up in December.


Check out this disscussion on Moore and Lattimore at: Heisman Hopefuls Kellen Moore and Lattimore


Pete Sonski blogs about college football. He welcomes feedback here and on Twitter @PSPRGuy.


“Mr. Outside” Glenn Davis

I often tell friends and colleagues that I feel cheated–not having seen Ted Williams hit a baseball. Quite often, I also ponder what it would have been like witnessing Rocky Marciano throwing punches, Satchel Paige pitching in his prime, or Oscar Robertson putting up “triple-doubles” nightly. Now allow me to add a new one to my dream-filled “wish list”: I wish I could have seen Glenn Davis run with the football–or just run PERIOD.

At 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, Glenn Davis arrived at Army in 1943 with an athletic reputation much larger than his rather modest physical frame; he had earned 13 letters in four sports at Bonita High in La Verne, California, and had scored a remarkable 256 points on the gridiron during his senior year. After being sent home in December of 1943 by the military academy for failing a math course, Davis returned the following year and would team up in the Army backfield with a man named Felix “Doc” Blanchard to form possibly the greatest college duo to ever line up behind a quarterback. “Mr. Inside” and “Mr. Outside” they were called–Davis the latter for his blazing speed and ability to break huge plays around the end of the line. Just HOW good was this backfield? Blanchard garnered the Heisman Trophy in 1945 for his spectacular, bruising play (his backfield mate finished second) while the speedy Davis would win the prestigious award the following year; they both played effectively on the defensive side too–although their offensive prowess gave birth to yet another nickname: the “Touchdown Twins.” Oh, yeah–Army won national titles each year from 1944 through 1946 while posting a 27-0-1 record when the two stars were teammates.

Glenn Davis was a first team All-American in ’44, ’45, and ’46; he was also voted the AP male athlete of the year in his senior year–the first football player to gain that honor. He still holds the NCAA record for most yards per carry for a career (8.3), and scored 59 touchdowns during his football tenure at Army while compiling close to 3,000 yards rushing. Symbolic of his natural, overall athletic ability, Davis THREW five TD passes to Blanchard during their time together. He even had time to play a little baseball at Army too–hitting .403 in 51 games there while stealing 64 out of 65 bases. But it was football that defined Glenn Davis as an athlete. His coach, Earl “Red” Blaik, called him the best halfback he’d ever seen, while a former teammate–Bill Yeoman–relayed the following words to the L.A. Times back in 1983: “There are words to describe how good an athlete Doc Blanchard was. But there AREN’T words to describe how good Davis was.” And just HOW fast could Davis run? He ran a 6.1-second, 60-yard dash at Madison Square Garden in 1947, defeating Barney Ewell–who would win the silver medal in the 100 meters the following year at the Olympic Games in London. Again, I wish I could have seen a man named Glenn Davis run.

Ironically, Glenn Davis’ football fame and popularity would ultimately be his downfall. While filming a football scene at UCLA for the movie “The Spirit of West Point” (also starring Doc Blanchard) shortly after leaving Army, Davis tore ligaments in his right knee–and would never regain the blazing speed that defined his game. Yes, he did play for the L.A. Rams for a couple of years after fulfilling his military commitment, and also contributed fairly well to the squad that won the 1951 NFL championship. But “Mr. Outside”–as far as his athletic ability was concerned–was truly finished after sitting out the 1952 season due to the bad knee. He’d officially call it quits after an exhibition game vs. the Eagles in 1953–no longer able to run with the abandon and swiftness that once rendered him perhaps the most talented athlete in America.

Looking back on the life of one Glenn Davis, who died in 2005 of complications from prostate cancer at the age of 80, one might assume that his athletic accolades, incomparable speed, and celebrity status (he even dated Elizabeth Taylor at one time) would have imbued him with an unapproachable, “better than thou” attitude during his life–much like many ex-athletes we witness today. But Mr. Davis was always surprisingly modest–especially about his greatness on the gridiron–as witnessed by these words he relayed to the AP in 1995: “I wasn’t the kind of guy who liked to pick the newspaper up to find out how I was doing. I just did my thing the best I could.” In his post-football days, Glenn Davis worked for the Los Angeles Times–where he would often spearhead many charitable sporting events until he retired in 1987. Graciously, he donated his Heisman Trophy to Bonita High School before he died, where his athletic achievements/heroics are honored by the school’s athletic field bearing his well-respected name. In addition, the Glenn Davis Award is given out annually to the top high school football player in Southern California.

Glenn Davis was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1961. Along with Doc Blanchard, he was given the Doak Walker Legends Award in 2003 at a touching ceremony held at SMU. Lastly, he made the trip to West Point for the final time back in October 2004 to be inducted into Army’s esteemed Sports Hall of Fame. Quite frankly, he was the best athlete many people had/have ever seen–and perhaps the best I NEVER saw. An instant star the very first day he stepped foot on Army grounds in 1943, he seldom disappointed while on the gridiron–and remained a HELLUVA guy off it. As for Doc Blanchard, he passed in 2009. I’m sure that the memory of a man named Davis surely brought a smile to his face later in life.

Glenn Davis, I wish I could have seen you run.