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Saturday
Dec102005

Heisman bitterness

Here's an article from the Dallas News' Chip Brown, talking about Vince Young's likely second-place finish to Reggie Bush.  It just reeks with bitterness.

This kind of story happens every year, just like BCS complaint pieces.

Brown's big angle is to play Vince Young's card, that he just made less plays than Reggie Bush, and that he had bad timing in not playing stronger late.  However, I think this is sour grapes.  As noted on here, and reflected at HeismanPundit.com, Reggie Bush was never out of the Heisman lead.

It's disigenuous to bring up "several straw polls had Vince Young leading two weeks ago".  Straw polls are exactly that, straw polls, and they're completely unreliable in most cases.  If Heisman voting was done week-by-week, Reggie Bush would have won every single week of this season after the Notre Dame game.  The Texas media likes to make it sound like Young was always in the driver's seat when in reality, he only made the thing close after his 500-yard game against Oklahoma State a few weeks back that coincided with a few quiet Bush games.

It's hypocritical to argue that Young was the victim of bad timing when in fact, if he'd won, he would have been the recipient of good timing in having his good game later than Reggie Bush.  But homer media are never honest and cast a funny revisionist spin every year on the outcome of the Heisman trophy.  I only ask that we all be honest about the award, take its flaws at face value but also embrace the prestige it carries.  There is no other award like it in all of sports.

That said, it is CFR's assessment that even if Reggie Bush had not finished so remarkably well against Fresno State and UCLA, and had Young not locked up a bit against Texas A&M, assuming both players had average games for themselves instead, that Reggie Bush would have won the award.  He was the favorite, and would have come out the favorite.

The problem with these polls is that they're not a good reflection of the core of Heisman voters, the "silent majority" if you will.  Over the history of the award, it's apparent that Heisman voters aren't as swayed by the weekly changes in the race as the rest of us fans and hyperinvolved media.  Thus, the Heismandments, which are quite instructive about projecting who will be the winner.  Reggie Bush was very likely in the favor of this base of conservative voters, and the soon-to-be runaway win against a great second-place candidate is indicative of this strong core support.  He'd been a Heisman finalist the year before (unlike Young), had already won two titles (unlike Young), played for a more prestigious Heisman program (USC's 6 to Texas' 2) and was on the #1 team.  Those things would have worked greatly in his favor over Young even without the Fresno performance.

In short, the bitter columns are heavily misinformed about the award's realities, too reflective of the media's hyper nature and not enough about the more glacial pace of the Heisman award.  Remember, it's their award, not CFR's or Chip Brown's.

Beyond that, saying things like "style over substance?" is an unnecessary dig at Reggie Bush.  I don't know about you, but Reggie Bush is just as much substance as style.  The guy is a competitive freak, he's carried USC through several games this year (just as Young has carried Texas), and is more than just the flashy plays.  That's something you'd only learn, however, if you watch him, and USC, a little more closely.  Imagine if people said Vince Young was just style?  They'd be ridiculed.  I've done my homework and watched both of these guys a lot this year and in years previous.  Clearly Chip Brown hasn't seen much of Bush or is just being very dishonest in his attempt to elevate his guy, Vince Young.

One last thing.  Brown tried to correlate Charles Woodson's win over Peyton Manning in 1997 with Reggie Bush beating Vince Young in 2005.  Once again Brown is being dishonest.  Woodson won because Manning failed to beat Florida, and did very little memorable other than live on his hype and put up the necessary numbers.  He had a fine season, but I remember watching him all year going, "when is this guy going to look like a Heisman winner?"  It never happened.  Meanwhile, Woodson was captaining the most dominant defense in a decade, making huge plays against his rival (imagine that?) and being the face on the #1 team.  His win was neither a surprise not a product of a late exciting moment against Ohio State.  Woodson ended up winning by a large margin, once again telling us that core Heisman voters had long been aware of him.

Let's all learn something from this year and remove the bitter beer faces if our guys don't win or finish where we want them.  The award is a great award, it has its own mysterious methods and ways, and in the end is fairly predictable.  Let's not go out of our way to falsely disparage other candidates, use dumb reasoning or otherwise be captain crankyhead about it.  Reggie Bush is an outstanding Heisman trophy winner and will long be remembered as a great Heisman winner.  He was an obvious, slam-dunk choice, and if he weren't there, Vince Young would have been an outstanding winner as well.  The media needs to get over itself, however, and stick to attacking the BCS, something it knows a little more about. 

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