NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 10: A detailed view of the Heisman Memorial Trophy after a press conference at The New York Marriott Marquis on December 10, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
The Heisman is "awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football," but time after time, that standard has been proven to be untrue. Any Iowa State fan will point out the 1996 Heisman race when Danny Wuerffel defeated Troy Davis, despite Davis rushing for 2185 yards, good for 4th all time, and 21 TDs. Wuerrfel was helped by inflated stats from playing for a Steve Spurrier system that has churned out quarterbacks over the decades and no doubt his coach's influence as a Heisman voter helped sway more than one voter.
Iowa State was horrific that year (2-9), so you could argue that Troy Davis was just getting garbage time yards, so a greater example might be the Heisman Larry Fitzgerald lost in 2005 to a clear system QB, Jason White. At the risk of sounding sacrilegious by promoting a Big East player over a Big 12 player, Fitzgerald was the better player that year (performance probably inspired by hanging out with his defensive coordinator, Paul Rhoads). Let's look at the stats.
Fitzgerald: 92 receptions for 1672 yards, 22 TDs
White: 278/451 for 3846 yards, 40 TDs, 10 INTs
While White's stats are admirable, he was under a system that continually produced QBs that put up massive numbers, a system started by Mike Leach, which he took to Texas Tech and continually produced system QBs. Larry Fitzgerald played at a position that has only had two other previous winners, both of whom were also known more for their special teams prowess than their receiving ability.
At some point we will hopefully see the Heisman voters begin to truly handing the award out to the most outstanding player in college football and not the ones who get the most media attention, airtime, and everything that comes with playing in the glory positions of quarterback and running back.
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