I'm still quite miffed about HeismanProjection being shut down. Hopefully Kari changes his mind, or maybe someone else can pick up where he left off, without infringing any of the Heisman Trust's rights? Are there and first ammendment/media law type lawyers out there who have any insight on this? Feel free to comment in the CFR Heisman discussion forum or send me an email.
- Touchdown Jesus, Heisman Maker
USC vs. Notre Dame-
Carson Palmer, 2002: 32/46 (.696) 425 yards, 4 TD/2 INT
Matt Leinart, 2003: 26/34 (.765) 351 yards, 4 TD/0 INT
Matt Leinart, 2004: 24/34 (.705) 400 yards, 5 TD/0 INT
Reggie Bush has also made gonzo highlights against Notre Dame, including in 2003 a stunning 58-yard untouched through the heart of the Irish defense run and a 30-yard reception capped by an 8-yard leap into the end zone (he was ruled out of bounds at the two yard line). In 2004, he was more quiet, but also recorded the backbreaking 69-yard wheel route catch and run slashing along the sidelines around Irish defenders.
The stage is set for more, unless Notre Dame finally has a say about it.
I also remember Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton went nuts (21-31, 385 yards, 4 TD) against them to propel himself to the Heisman lead before tanking against Wisconsin. Florida State's Charlie Ward lost in South Bend in 1993, but performed well enough to retain his lead and capture the award.
- In The Shadows
Something that crossed my mind two years ago, made more sense last year and may be revealing itself this year is the concept of a Heisman "back five". That is, the players not going to New York City/ranked fifth or lower that year.
Matt Leinart finished 6th in 2003, and he made a hell of a candidate that year but the unspoken Heisman rules and bigger candidates were in his way. Last year, there was an even deeper field of next-level candidates (Jason Campbell, J.J. Arrington, Aaron Rodgers). They all had interesting shadow candidacies.
This year, three names that come to mind for the second tier candidate are Brodie Croyle, D.J. Shockley and Marcus Vick. All of their teams are in the top ten right now and they're putting up decent numbers. In a different year, any of them could perhaps be leading the Heisman race. But they're not, and aren't really getting a lot of Heisman-level attention. But its fun to talk about them, and acknowledge their contributions to their teams.
Last week I finally got around to making Heisman candidate pages for the three leaders. I've kept them updated through last weekend, so they're a good reference if you want to take a look at the players' stats, recaps of their games, and other facts, and perhaps read a story or two about them.