What Is It With The Heisman Anyway?


What is it with winning the Heisman Trophy anyway? Doesn’t winning the trophy that represents being the very best player in all of college football assure success in the NFL? No, it doesn’t. Doesn’t it at the very least guarantee a big paycheck and a high draft selection? Nope! Then just what does winning the most prestigious trophy in all of college football represent, and what are the chances of fame and glory at the next level? Let’s find out.

The reason I bring up this subject is because many mock drafts show Miami taking Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, the outstanding running back from Alabama. Going back to 1990, only two players have won the trophy who were not either a RB or QB. Desmond Howard, a WR won it 1991 and Charles Woodson, a DB won the prize in 1997. Both went on to have good to great careers and Woodson, who incidentally, was the player who edged out Payton Manning for the trophy is still a valuable member of the SB champ Green Bay Packers. Does that mean that Dolphin fans can look forward to the same type of success from Mark Ingram if they do indeed draft him? I would like to think so, but it isn’t a done deal by any means. Let’s look at some of the past history and see if we can make some sort of educated guess.

Since 1990 and excluding 2009 winner Ingram, there have been four Heisman winners who were running backs including our own Ricky Williams, who won in 1998. The others were Rashaan Salaam in 1994, Ron Dayne in 1999 and Reggie Bush in 2005. Most would agree that Salaam and Dayne didn’t live up to their first round selections to the Bears and Giants, respectively. Bush however, re-energized a struggling New Orleans Saints team and helped lead them to and win, a Super Bowl. Ricky Williams as we know, has had a let us say, very strange career, and will be known as the player who Mike Ditka gave up all of the Saints draft picks for in 1999 AND a first and third pick the following year. That type of player deal is only rivaled by the Hershel Walker steal when Minnesota gave Dallas five players and six draft picks for his services. I seriously doubt the NFL will ever see that type of “raping” of a team again and I am sure Jerry Jones still has a grin on his face. Once again, going back to 1990, statistically, Heisman trophy winning running backs have been a good investment 50% of the time. Personally, I feel Ingram will indeed make someone a good pick. However, a top 15 pick is another debate.

What about the other Heisman winners in the past twenty years? Not including 2010 winner Cam Newton, twelve have been quarterbacks. Of those twelve, excluding recent picks Sam Bradford or Tim Tebow, all but one has been a bust. Let me say that again. ALL BUT ONE HAS BEEN A BUST! Yes, only Carson Palmer can be considered even a decent investment and I am sure there of those that would argue that. The lists of busts include Ty Detmer, Gino Torretta, Charlie Ward, Danny Wuerffel, Chris Weinke, Eric Couch, Jason White, Matt Leinhart and Troy Smith. Remember those guys? Me neither. Ok, let’s not label them all “busts”, Charlie Ward chose to play basketball, but I believe all of us can agree the rest of the list failed to live up to the expectations considering the hype of winning the Heisman. If it helps matters any at all, I do believe Tebow and Bradford will even things out just a bit by being successful, but the odds are still astronomically against a QB who has won the Heisman having success in the NFL.

However, it seems GM’s and coaches are starting to take notice that the Heisman may be overhyped and certainly doesn’t mean the talent a player showed in college will always successfully transfer to the NFL. In fact, 2003 winner Jason White and 1993 winner Charlie Ward went undrafted. Ty Detmer was drafted in the ninth (the 9th?), Gino Torretta in the 7th and Troy Smith in the 5th. To whoever drafts Cam Newton, I say LOTSA LUCK WITH THAT. The odds are against you. What is it with the Heisman anyway?