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After Week Seven

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  2. Penn State
  3. Texas
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  5. Florida
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  11. Ohio State
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  13. Texas Tech
  14. Utah
  15. Kansas
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Entries in Heisman (157)

Saturday
Aug202005

Friday turned Saturday Heisman blogging

Late, again.

This will be the last preseason Friday Heisman blogging.  We may move this to another date, also, depending on what kind of daily schedule I will make for CFR.

It's another slow Heisman week, but I am pleased to inform you that CFR's preseason Heisman candidate list will be out soon (it better be).

  • The Guru
HeismanPundit, the granddaddy of all Heisman analysts, has his 2005 preseason top 10 Heisman candidate list out.  Finally!

He's a zealot when it comes to adhering to the Heismandments, and it's reflected in this year's list.  In reading his explanation, it's obvious that the "rules" handed down to us by Heisman history forbid the winning candidacies of Matt Leinart and Adrian Peterson.  HP gives a nod to changing times and their force of nature skills and name recognition in adding them to his list, but at numbers nine and ten.  Interesting.

Here's the list:

  1. Reggie Bush-USC athlete
  2. Chris Leak-Florida quarterback
  3. Vince Young-Texas quarterback
  4. Reggie McNeal-Texas A&M quarterback
  5. Drew Tate-Iowa quarterback
  6. Brady Quinn-Notre Dame quarterback
  7. Maurice Drew-UCLA back
  8. Lawrence Maroney-Minnesota back
  9. Adrian Peterson-Oklahoma back
  10. Matt Leinart-USC quarterback, 2004 Heisman Trophy winner
It's a reflection of the times when there are just three backs on a Heisman guru's preseason list, and the top candidate is seventh.  HP also separated Bush, Leak and Young from all the other candidates, making the point that those three are way ahead of the other candidates, and it will take some kind of colossal shakeup to change his expected outcome.

My list is quite different, but HP knows the rules much better and the reasoning is more sound than anything I'll come up with.  But my list will still be a great one.  Watch.

As for HP, be sure and continue to read his website well into the season.  Last year was certainly an education on there and I look forward to more from there.  Additionally, HP is branching out and directing a lot of his college football thoughts to CollegeFootballPundit.com, opening soon.  I also look forward to that website's emergence as one of the more astute and provocative places to read about the game.

That's all, see you once again when the season has begun!

Sunday
Aug142005

Coming soon

Our preseason top 10 list teams list and top 10 Heisman candidate list.

Everyone loves lists, right?  CFR will have more during the season, but not so many as to become "serial listers".

HT to HeismanPundit for the appropriate term describing the offseason habits of CFN.

Saturday
Aug132005

Friday Heisman Blogging

Late, as usual.

Not much to update you with, but we've done a quick AP ranking analysis.  Its fat to chew on as you make your preseason Heisman candidate lists.

  • Gotta Be Ranked, Son
CFR took a look at the five most recent Heisman Trophy finalist fields (top five candidates) and their final AP ranking.

Some tidbits-

The lowest ranked winner was Nebraska's Eric Crouch, at 8th place in the final AP poll.  On average, the winners' team finished 4th.  One winner finished on the #1 team.

Only three players (out of 25) were on unranked teams.  Two of the unranked candidates finished fifth, and another made it all the way to runner-up (Larry Fitzgerald) and almost won the award.

In finish order, here are the final team rankings for the finalists: (1,1,1,1,2,2,2,3,3,3,3,4,4,5,6,8,8,13,13,14,16,21,NR,NR,NR)

Maybe we'll take a further look back at some point, to ten years, or maybe post-Detmer/Ware when modern Heisman voting evolved.

Also, we'll add the hastily-put-together Excel sheet documenting the rankings for your own review up on CFR soon.  Check our section called "files".  PS we might rename or re-organize that section soon, just a heads up.

  • White Out
Former Heisman winner from Oklahoma, Jason White, has retired from the NFL.  He was never an NFL player, from our eyes.  Great college hero and heroic in many ways, though.  HeismanPundit speculates that this further works against Matt Leinart.  We disagree.  We think Leinart is a special case and the usual skepticism towards repeat candidates will fade at least for this unique candidate.

Tuesday
Aug092005

Why all the Purdue talk?

If there was ever a Purdue team poised to roll through conference play undefeated, it was last year's squad.  They started out H-O-T (51-0 over Syracuse, 59-7 over Ball State, 38-30 over Illinois) and then blasted Notre Dame on national television, practically handing the Heisman keys to Kyle Orton if he could simply hang on.

Well, we know what happened.

Orton.jpg

A four game stretch really told Purdue's story for last year, and I think what will happen this year.

After the Notre Dame win, Purdue beat Penn State on the road 20-13.

Then, they famously lost to Wisconsin, 20-17.

Another close home loss to Michigan followed before the wheels came off against Northwestern in a 13-10 loss.

The big tip-off here was the Penn State game.  Purdue's one dimensional offense finally faced a defense that could easily challenge their run and had enough athletes in the secondary to chip away at the high octane passing offense.

Wisconsin followed a similar formula, and thanks to Kyle Orton playing late-game dunce, took advantage of its opportunities and won.

By now Purdue's offensive machine had lost its shine just three games into the Big Ten slate and before ever facing Michigan and Ohio State.

The rest is in the history books.  16-14 loss to Michigan.  13-10 offensive meltdown against Northwestern (a game where Kyle Orton was benched in favor of Brandon Kirsch).  23-21 loss to offense-challenged Iowa.  A 24-17 victory over a similarly poor offense in Ohio State.

Then, the gimme, a 63-24 win over Indiana (reminiscent of Syracuse/Ball State/Illinois).  And then the ugly 27-23 loss to Arizona State.

The buzz this year is that Purdue's schedule (miraculously lacking Ohio State and Michigan) is a gimme and a sure shot at going undefeated.

We argue otherwise.

There's no doubt that Purdue has a sometimes explosive offense.  Its an offense that absolutely blows some teams away.  They score points and by the end of the season have some great numbers.  But those numbers aren't balanced out over the entire schedule.  Purdue is simply an average squad with an offense most of its conference foes have adapted to and found ways to contain.  Their defense is also fairly average.

That's not the formula for a team to win the Big Ten, even if it somehow skips the 800-pound gorillas Ohio State and Michigan.  Last year proved as much.  A better Big Ten formula has been Northwestern or Iowa's. 

Northwestern last won the conference behind a dynamic offense with enough talented pieces to drive them through the conference.  But Northwestern is a team that relies on cycles of experience and talent to move them from the conference dregs. In that, they are quite similar to the Pac-10's Washington State, another team with a potent offensive scheme and all kinds of talent and player development issues that get in the way from any kind of consistent winning.

The Iowa model is simple.  Stop the run, control the clock, rally behind a playmaking quarterback and don't turn the ball over.  It worked for the Brad Banks squad.  Its working for Drew Tate.

Purdue so far doesn't have the dynamic offense of Northwestern nor the patience and attention to the trenches and ball control of Iowa.  Their formula doesn't work, while these teams have one that does (at times).

At some point this year a Big Ten opponent will once again give Purdue a loss or two and ease the nerves of jumpy Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa fans everywhere.  It happened last year, predictably.  It will happen again this year.

And if it doesn't, we'll be doing the homework to figure out what's different.  Flawed teams have to prove they have fixed their flaws if they are ever to change their status quo.  Purdue has to fix its offense.  Have they?  I'm not so sure.

Tuesday
Aug092005

Best SEC quarterbacks

UTVolsBlog has his thoughts.

Ours... Auburn's Brandon Cox at #7? Huh?

He's a better thrower than Jason Campbell, he got to sit and watch the system work for a year, and if anything more will be given to him the way USC was able to offer Matt Leinart more components than Carson Palmer.

In both cases, an offensive system was modified and simplified for a quarterback whose brain had gone mush (Palmer, Campbell) after playing through several bad offensive coordinators.  That quarterback then soared in the modified new offense.

We believe that Cox, like Leinart, is the lesser-known but more skilled (as a passer, not physical talent) quarterback.  He's also a lefty like Mr. Heisman.

Would you have rated Jason Campbell the #7 quarterback in the SEC last year?  I wouldn't have.  CFR predicts a season from Brandon Cox that statistically surpasses Campbell's contribution last year. His win total should also come close.

Think Cox will be on our preseason Heisman candidate list?  Hmm...

We'll have more on Auburn later and why its more than a little dangerous to discount them this season.

As for the rest of that list, we'd take Leak, Ainge and Cox and you can do what you want with the rest of them.

We like the analysis at the end-

Of the national titles that the SEC has won in the last 15 years, only the '96 Florida team had a GREAT QB in Danny Weurffel. Alabama in '92 had a solid but very unspectacular Jay Barker. Tennessee had a good (but not Manning) Tee Martin. LSU won with Matt Mauck. Auburn managed to go undefeated with Jason Campbell, a senior who had all but been written off for his previous numbers

True, true.  But, most of those guys were either efficient quarterbacks who had a strong command of their offenses (Weurffel, Martin, Mauck, Campbell) or an ultra-conservative don't turn the ball over type (Barker) who complimented a ferocious defense.

Oh, and Wuerffel wasn't a great quarterback.  He was obviously extremely efficient and directed the Spurrier offense in ways no other quarterback has before or since.  Think Ty Detmer and the Norm Chow offense.  Detmer wasn't great, but he was perfect for the job.  You dig?

Saturday
Aug062005

CFB Hall of Fame revisited

I won't leave this one alone, although judging by the mere handful of comments in reply to previous posts nobody else really cares.  I've got my eye towards the future looking back on the present, I guess, and thus am intrigued by current perspective on future CFB Hall of Fame nominees.

Here are the candidates our readers and CFR came up with so far-

Jason White-Oklahoma quarterback
Cedric Benson-Texas back
Mike Williams-USC receiver
David Greene-Georgia quarterback
Anthony Davis-Wisconsin back
Darren Sproles-Kansas State back
Mike Patterson-USC defensive tackle
Derrick Johnson-Texas linebacker
David Pollack-Georgia defensive end
Lou Holtz-Coach at a handful of programs

Below, you'll find other intriguing candidates that I culled from this year's draft.  Obviously we'll miss a few more guys who went undrafted.

Braylon Edwards-Michigan receiver
Mike Nugent-Ohio State kicker

Who among these years deserves to be in the CFB Hall of Fame? 

Earlier I said around ten players (in theory) should make the hall.  Last year as with previous years, the Hall selected well over ten players, but they drew them from a variety of years and I don't really have any data yet on how many players are selected per graduating year historically.

One issue was in discerning the contribution of players from smaller schools.  Is a Dante Ridgeway Hall of Fame material for his success, but do we neglect Mark Clayton in the process?

Saturday
Aug062005

Friday Heisman blogging

Belated because I was having too much fun on this Nancy Clark saga.

  • Love Potion #9
CFR loves holding up the Heismandments as pillars of the Heisman race.  But given the circumstances this year, and in re-examining those trusted laws, we think Pillar #9 might be a bit shaky.

It says "There will never be another two time Heisman winner".  Check.

This year will be a powerful test as to the strength of Heismandment #9, because Matt Leinart is Matt Leinart.  Jason White actually tried chipping away at ol' #9 last year, but managed only to raise some doubts as to its strength without actually toppling it.  That's because he finished third, but in a loaded field.  Maybe in another year with another field he repeats.  But the fact that he came fairly close makes us think that voters may slowly be getting ready for another repeat winner.

The repeat candidate this year is of course, USC's Matt Leinart.  Matt has a lot going for him here.  He's already won the award, has unbelievable name recognition, is playing for one of the nation's most storied programs, a program with rich Heisman history, he plays in the era's marquee Heisman position,  he has nearly unmatched success, not including whatever happens this season, and has great numbers.  Additionally, there will be strong talk and debate this season as to the validity of claims that he may be college football's best all-time quarterback.

All of that will be working in his favor come voting time, assuming he simply keeps doing what he's done (no easy task, mind you).  USC also happens to be in the middle of a shot at a 3-peat, unprecedented in the modern college football era.

If Leinart can come through during the regular season, even a loaded field will have trouble making a case against him given his historical importance and symbolism here.  In fact, his candidacy truly isolates that Heismandment #9 as a referendum on Matt Leinart.

If Matt Leinart in fact wins the Heisman trophy, Heismandment #9 falls, but it falls in an unusual way.  That is because Matt Leinart will become the standard-bearer for all future repeat candidates, and in doing so I think sets up a situation where Heismandment #9 becomes stronger because of just how powerful a candidate he is and his career accomplishment.  It may also make Heismandment #9 a referendum on a candidate's career, not his season.

If Matt Loses, he also becomes a standard-bearer for HM#9, because all future candidates will have to at least be on par with his contribution to the game since he in fact did not repeat despite coming in with so much.

If nothing else, Matt Leinart repeating gives a little more nobility to the repeat winner's club, since Archie Griffin was kind of an unusual repeat winner.

  • Coming soon
We'll get to a fun AP ranking of candidate fields section this weekend or down the road, but its on ice for now.

  • Nile Kinnick
In case you didn't know, 1939 Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick is a near-God in Iowa.  The football stadium is named after him, and now a statue has been placed in his honor near the stadium.

Unfortunately, it has him holding some books and looking like something other than an athlete.

Ryan Suchomel at the Press-Citizen is unhappy about it.

I kind of agree.  The University could have easily had a Kinnick wing of the library or a Kinnick institute to remark on the great man and person he was, and still have put a statue of him in football pose in front of the stadium.  He's revered because he was a great football player. The icing on the cake and what makes him legendary in Iowa is that he was also an interesting guy off the field, but when building a monument to cake, you don't just depict the frosting without the cake.  So the people who commissioned the artist and gave him direction here missed the point, although their error is almost forgiveable when we consider how small sports really can be to the big picture.

  • All Leinart, all the time
Matt Leinart's everywhere.

Here's a piece by FoxSports' Peter Schrager calling ML the "biggest man on any campus, ever".

Yes, he has a bit of a man-crush on Matt.  But the piece is pretty much dead-on.

My favorite, and it gets at just how unusual a case Leinart is---

What about the college athlete, though? Leinart's a true pioneer, a real-life Magellan. Never has a kid still taking Sociology 101 been such a visible force in the tabloids. In the past 12 months, the USC quarterback has been romantically linked to Jessica Simpson's personal assistant, Kristin from Laguna Beach, the point guard of the USC women's basketball team, and Alyssa Milano, who we'll always think of as Samantha Micelli from Who's the Boss. Hell, if he wanted, he could probably score Mona and Angela too. This is all from a guy who plays college football.
Matt also sat down briefly for an interview with blogger HeismanPundit for some discussion about the award.
HP: If you ... don't win it again, who do you think are the best candidates out there?
Leinart: Reggie Bush of course. Vince Young. Chris Leak has a really good shot if he does well in that system. Adrian Peterson, though who knows since he has a new offensive line. I got to know DeAngelo Williams from the Playboy All-American shoot. He's a good guy and a great player.
This one makes me wonder.  Leinart basically hints at offensive line issues for Peterson.  HeismanPundit has speculated before that Peterson may get injured again this year given previous injury issues and the fact that he's working with a new line and quarterback this year.  Leinart gives some validation to that.  He also hints at how powerful Florida's offensive system is, also discussed here and at HeismanPundit, and that if Chris Leak grasps the system, he should have a great season.

Matt Leinart needs a blog.  Oh wait, he did, but isn't blogging anymore.

That's because he's now part of USC's non-campaign campaign, MattReggieTV.com.  Check out the first video, pretty cool, as it follows Matt around Pac-10 Media Day.  USC is calling it a VLog, short for VideoLog.

It should work out well, because both gentlemen are very telegenic.  Gotta play to your strengths.

HeismanPundit already has reactionCalled it.

And lastly on Matt Leinart, we'd like to leave you with his odd fashion choice at Pac-10 media day, his new beard:

MLBeard.jpg

Friday
Aug052005

USC at it again

USC debuts MattReggieTV.com today.  It's a video blog, document Matt and Reggie's experience this season.  As usual USC is on the cutting edge with its campaigns.  Oh wait, USC doesn't campaign (cough, cough, wheeze).

I can't wait for HeismanPundit's response.

More in Friday Heisman blogging later.

Thursday
Aug042005

Heisman Friday preview

We'll elaborate on the pressure being applied to Heismandment #9, and how it affects the Heisman race significantly into the future.

Also, we're working on our preseason Heisman top 10 list, and the current slate of candidates is floating between 14-17.  We'll narrow that down soon and publish the list before the season starts.  Which should be soon, considering there are just 27 days left until the 2005-2006 college football season begins.

Tuesday
Aug022005

Tedford, on Lynch

Jeff, that is, on Marshawn, that is.

"When you lose a 2,000 yard rusher, you'd think there'd be some concern there," said Tedford. "But Marshawn may be the best all-around football player I've ever seen. He's so versatile. He's strong, he can run inside, he's fast, he can break the big play. And Marshawn catches the ball as well as any of our receivers."


We've talked extensively about Marshawn, it only helps when his coach basically gives him the Ali "the greatest" treatment.

Watch...

Quote courtesy Rivals.com piece (premium subscription required) by David Lavender, "Others Chasing USC's Perch".

Think he'll be making our preseason Heisman candidate list?

Saturday
Jul302005

Friday Heisman blogging

Belated, as usual. Must be the offseason.

  • Heisman corrections
I've talked briefly on here before about the modern Heisman and its compensation for some odd selections in the early 1990's, namely BYU's Ty Detmer and Houston's Andre Ware, and in part, Miami's Gino Torretta.  This play into Heisman Pundit's Heismandment #6, the so-called "Andre Ware Rule".

6. The winner cannot be considered an obvious product of his team's system. Call this the Andre Ware rule. Basically, this means that voters are unimpressed by huge stats put up by an individual in offensive systems conducive for huge numbers. Voters at one time were impressed (back when many of these systems were new and in vogue), but most have reached a level of sophistication that they are no longer completely fooled by big numbers alone. They will also look at the how the candidate fared against good teams and if the numbers are lacking, the player will suffer.

The Heisman has also corrected itself less by nuance and more by design.  In 1974 balloting procedures were such that voters could mail in their ballot before the season was completed.  Many voters did, and may have regretted it after witnessing USC's Anthony Davis torch Notre Dame for six touchdowns, spearheading a furious second-half comeback from being down 24-0 at one point, to lead the Trojans to victory 55-24.

Soon after, ballots were to be mailed out later, although to this day they can still be sent in before the final weekend of play (just a handful of games).

This got me thinking about Heisman could-have-beens, and how they would have affected the balance of Heisman power among the programs.

Already I brought up three examples-

1974: Substitute USC's Anthony Davis for Ohio State's Archie Griffin
1989: Substitute Indiana's Anthony Thompson for Houston's Andre Ware
1990: Substitute Notre Dame's Raghib "Rocket" Ismail for BYU's Ty Detmer
1992: Substitute San Diego State's Marshall Faulk for Miami's Gino Torretta

In so doing, the balance would become-

USC +1
Indiana +1
Notre Dame +1
SDSU +1
Ohio State -1
Houston -1
BYU -1
Miami -1

Notre Dame would still be on top, with eight, followed by USC with seven and then a gap emerges, with Ohio State now at five and Miami down to just one Heisman winner.  We'd also remove one odd-ball winner in Houston and add two others in Indiana and SDSU.

Are there any other obvious substitutions to be made out there, in the name of revisionism?

  • The Rocket
BlueGraySky posted recently about some of Notre Dame's main "villains".  One of them was Michigan receiver Desmond Howard.  The Michigan bloggers went nuts (understandably) over that and several other references to the boys from Ann Arbor.  One of the responses was from iBlogforCookies as he compared Desmond Howard to Rocket Ismail and basically slammed the Rocket for his relative lack of numbers.  I can't find a way to link it other than to tell you that the entry is on Friday July 22, 2005.  Go look for it.  This broke my heart, because I'm a huge fan of both players.

I have to defend Rocket here because, well, he doesn't have his Heisman (deserved), and Desmond does (deserved).

Here was IBFC's comparison-

Kick return average: Rocket 24.0, Howard 27.5
Punt return average: Rocket 11.6, Howard 14.1
Return TDs: Rocket 1, Howard 1
Yards from scrimmage: Rocket 99-1236 (12.5/touch),
Howard 75-1165 (15.5/touch)
Touchdowns from scrimmage: Rocket 5, Howard 22
Total yards: Rocket 126-1723 (13.7/touch), Howard 110-1859 (16.9/touch) Total TDs: Rocket 6, Howard 23

This is a bit unfair, considering what both did, and who was around them.  In 1990, Notre Dame had a star-studded offense, and Rocket was a component of it (much like USC's Reggie Bush, this season, who doesn't even start at tailback).  Howard, a receiver, was playing in an offense capable of throwing the ball down the field.  Ismail, a receiver, wasn't.

Ismail also was utilized as a runner, not just receiver.  But at that position he was just one of a handful of elite backs in I believe Ricky Watters and Jerome Bettis and Reggie Brooks.  So at both positions his numbers either by passing incompetence/neglect, or elite talent in front of him at his other position.

Naturally, his numbers would pale to Howard's, especially considering just how good of numbers Howard put up as a receiver in his Heisman season.

Thing is, like Reggie Bush now, it's not just in his numbers, you could see how he completely forced defenses to change their game plans and willingly adjust for his mere presence.

As far as touchdowns, Ismail clearly lacks in this department, but much like Reggie Bush, we cannot blindly neglect that he was a component of his offense in a Heisman season, so yes, Reggie Bush had just six rushing touchdowns last year, but that was because LenDale White, a prolific runner in the red zone, grabbed himself 13 scores.  If Ismail had been a lead back or played in a more prolific passing offense, his numbers would certainly have approach Howard's.  But he was a Heisman runner-up without those numbers.  To a guy who put up some staggering numbers and would later become the model for later Heisman voters on how not to vote (see Kingsbury, Kliff).

Resource thinks Rocket was squeezed by a historical anomaly, and was in fact Heisman worthy.  He simply doesn't have Desmond Howard's numbers.  But Howard was deserving, too.  Nobody will forget his all-out touchdown catch against Notre Dame in the back of the end zone.  Ever.

  • Candidate websites
I found two websites this week promoting players for the 2005 Heisman trophy, both created by fans.

The first one I alluded to earlier this week.  It advertises Virginia Tech sophomore receiver/returner Eddie Royal as a Heisman candidate.

The other website promotes Ohio State sophomore receiver/returner/defensive back Ted Ginn, Jr.

As a critique, we found the Royal website to be distracting, with all the VT logo's in the background.  The images were all over the page, the information about Royal was copied verbatim from his biography in Virginia Tech's media guide, and there was no coherent message or talking points.  But the photos looked cool, and he's a very intriguing darkhorse candidate.

The Ginn webpage is simple, and reminds us of those cover sheets we used to slap on our middle school essays with a bold title, unrelated picture and date.  The real meat was always inside, and right now that website has no meat.  Where's the beef?  Again, the picture is cool and we appreciate the simple design, but its lacking right now, especially with no message other than Ginn for Heisman.

I still love both of those guys, they're very good (Royal) to great (Ginn) athletes who impressed me right away last year, if not well before as I followed their recruitment.

  • Force of nature
I can't help but think USC's Matt Leinart is becoming a force of nature.  He's become larger-than-life, with all the attendant attention and lifestyle much larger than the man himself.

There's something about volume of attention that helps people reach certain heights.  In politics, money buys advertisements which gets a candidate's name out and often is cynically linked to election victories.  To a certain degree, I think amount of attention paid to a candidate in the Heisman race also affects his finish.  If that's the case, Matt Leinart will break Heismandment #9 this year and emerge as a repeat winner, assuming he keeps up his end of the bargain on the field.

There's simply way too much energy about him.  Any ESPN video of college football highlights from week-to-week will now include Leinart because he's the returning Heisman winner, he's on the sport's best team, a team approaching a historic three-peat, and he's just a focal point for whatever is going on in college football.

There's the MattLeinartBlog, there's all the preseason magazine covers, there's the rumors of who he is partying with, who he's dating, etc, there's the storm created by passing up on the NFL draft.  It all adds up in the public consciousness, especially if there aren't similarly flashy players running up against him.  Adrian Peterson had unreal hype last year, and ESPN more or less openly campaigned for him, but he's also a reluctant superstar, boyish and shy.  Reggie Bush is quite outgoing, dresses well, and is a little bit of Hollywood himself, but he's also Matt's wing-man of sorts now that Leinart has the Heisman.

We'll have to see how other candidates shake out, maybe ESPN actively campaigns for Ohio State's Ted Ginn this year, and that might work out because he has the cachet of a big program and may not mind the attention.

Florida quarterback Chris Leak also comes off as shy and reluctant, so his presence may be muted.

Any reluctant player only creates a vacuum of attention from which guys like Leinart and Bush and Ginn may scoop up.

In the meantime, it's Matt Leinart all the time, especially in the offseason.  Once the season begins we hunch this three-pete thing may become quite a consuming passion of the CFB media and only brighten the glare of lights on Leinart's (and by association Bush's) faces.  Will it be enough?  If not, talk of Leinart as college football's greatest-ever quarterback will only add to the frenzy.

Thursday
Jul282005

Heisman Friday sneak peek

We'll have links to two candidate websites (made by fans, we presume, with criticisms), hopefully some discussion on Desmond Howard vs. Rocket Ismail as seen at iBlogforCookies, and maybe a little grand scheme of things look at Matt Leinart.

Laaaaaaaaaaaaaate Friday, though, at the earliest.

In the meantime we've basically loaded all our linked blogs into TTLB that haven't already been loaded by you guys (unless we missed a few, quite possible with over 100 blogs), in anticipation of Month II of TTLB CFB blog rankings.  That's taken a good deal of time, but will be worth it on the first.

Tuesday
Jul262005

CFB Hall of Fame nominees

From our earlier query, here is the list so far.  Please continue to add to it:

Jason White-Oklahoma
Cedric Benson-Texas
Mike Williams-USC
David Green-Georgia
Anthony Davis-Wisconsin
Darren Sproles-Kansas State

A sleeper I would add is USC defensive tackle Mike Patterson.  He was utterly dominant for nearly three seasons, made All-America his senior year and led a top five run defense all three years.

PS-feel free to debate the hell out of these nominees.  We don't have a college football Supreme Court nomination process, but this might be the closest thing to it.  Be stern, but be fair.

Monday
Jul252005

Reader question

Killing time...

What members of last year's graduating class of college football players deserve to be in the College Football Hall of Fame?

Off the top of my head, Oklahoma's Jason White, since it's fairly obvious that the sports' most prestigious award winners gain nearly automatic entry.

After that, who?  Any players from your team put together a staggering career truly worthy of CFBHOF consideration?

We urge you to be choosy, maybe ten players any given year really merit Hall consideration.

Monday
Jul252005

VaTech Heisman candidate, revealed

I can't leave the public hanging.

The website I found was for Hokie WR/KR Eddie Royal.

On Friday we'll present the link to the fan website promoting him for Heisman as well as another prominent candidates' website.  And then criticize them for being quite rudimentary.

He's quite underrated nationally as a football player... mostly because few really know who he is.  He saved Tech's hide in at least one game last year, I forget which, memory escapes me, but he had two long catches late in a tight game.  And then he had a little fun against Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.

But the numbers are very impressive considering he didn't really even play early on, particularly in the opener against USC.  We'll definitely add him to our list of "Swiss Army Knife" type football players.

1 Carry
11 Yards
1 Touchdown

28 Receptions
470 Yards
16.8 Average
3 Touchdowns
80 Long

12 Kick Returns
346 Yards
28.8 Average
48 Long

25 Punt Returns
274 Yards
11.0 Average
58 Long

Not bad for a freshman!

Royal reminds us a little of Rocket Ismail or Desmond Howard, because he is a g-o-n-e if he gets in the open, is a bit smallish, and has some moxie with the ball.  HeismanPundit will probably rap us on the head and come up with a more appropriate comparison.  We await our browbeating, but in the meantime, study up on him and be sure and watch a Virginia Tech game this season.  We made sure to do that last year, having pegged him as a future star during the recruiting season.  Mind you, we had to wait a game or two for him to emerge (kind of like the more obvious choice, Ted Ginn, Jr.), but he was worth the wait.

Get on the bandwagon.

Sunday
Jul242005

Interesting

Just found a website promoting a Virginia Tech player not named Marcus Vick for the 2005 Heisman trophy.  Can you guess who?

We kinda like this player, for what it's worth.

Saturday
Jul232005

Friday Heisman Blogging, on Saturday

Mi scusi.

  • Bush and Leinart
Scanning the tube this week, I stumbled upon a Best Damn Sports Show segment with USC stars Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.  The Heisman alarms in my head immediately started making all kinds of noises.

The segment was pretty bland, just a casual interview, but it was great early PR for both of those guys.  Leinart mentioned that he'd vote for Bush no matter what this season, seeing as how he now owns one of the Heisman votes.  Bush didn't seem to mind already having one vote in the books for this season.

BDSS also showed a brief interview with Mike Garrett, USC's athletic director and another Heisman winner, and then played a clip from earlier in the year, an interview with former Utah quarterback and Heisman finalist Alex Smith, who played with Reggie Bush in high school.  Smith said Bush is the best football player he's ever played with or watched.  Leinart echoed that sentiment moments later.

Things got awkward when Bush was asked who the better quarterback was between Smith and Leinart, neglecting to really answer.  Tough question!  I personally would have stuck up for my current QB and apologized to Smith later, but when you're on the spot like that, there's not always a lot you can do.

Anyway, it was great to see all those Heisman finalists and winners in a mid-summer segment, got us itchy for the season once again.

Oh, and they also talked a little about EA Sports NCAA 2006, and then showed the back cover with a digital Reggie in a Heisman-like pose.

It's almost an unfair Heisman advantage for those two, being able to come onto BDSS practically anytime they want, not having to book an appearance living right in Los Angeles, and then one having won the trophy and the other featured prominently in a video game nearly every college football fan is playing right now.

  • Where are they now: The Heisman Trophies?
I've seen a few Heisman trophies in person, traveling to various universities over the years to see a game or general tourism.  But perusing Technorati the other evening, I found several images documenting the wherabouts of several of the Heisman trophies-

Here is a link to 1956 winner Paul Horning's tropy, donated to the Green Bay Packers-link

Here is a link to the dual Florida State Heisman trophies won by Charlie Ward (1993) and Chris Weinke (2000)-link

And finally, here is current South Carolina head coach and 1966 winner Steve Spurrier's Heisman trophy-link

Pretty cool.  Although a touch boring, it would be cool to see some kind of traveling road show of Heisman trophies and memorabilia, or perhaps a temporary exhibit at the College Football Hall of Fame.

I'd go.

Until then, the best way to get one's money's worth is to stop by the Notre Dame (7), USC (6) or Ohio State (6) campuses and take a look at their displays.

That's all, see you again next Friday for more cowbell Heisman.

Thursday
Jul142005

Friday Heisman Blogging

It's Friday, it's Heisman time.  We reserve the right to relocate the day during the season, perhaps to a Tuesday, or Thursday.  Or any day ending in 'y'.

Last week we asked you to guess who ResourceAdmin chose as his 2004 Heisman Trophy winner.

Nobody submitted a guess.  Nice job guys.

For those curious, I voted for USC tailback/returnman Reggie Bush.  It was a difficult decision, and I can easily understand anyone else's coherent arguments for all five finalists.

My criteria tend to vary from season to season, but last year what stood out for me about Bush, from all the other candidates, was his ability to win a game for his team.  Let me explain.

USC was locked into a tight road opener against Virginia Tech in the BCA classic last year.  Outside of a handful of Bush plays, neither team really did anything exceptional all night.  USC quarterback Matt Leinart, the eventual Heisman Trophy winner, had a noble effort directing a shaky Trojan offense with Leinart as the only returning starter for all intents and purposes.

Bush scored early on a stunning middle screen, what looked like a simple dump pass that turned into a weaving 20-yard scamper untouched past the athletic Tech secondary and linebackers.

The game remained locked and neither team could really push to an advantage until the Trojans selectively fed Bush the ball.

This selection from the AP story does a pretty good job of retelling Bush's evening-

The Trojans said they were prepared to be without the All-American Williams and would be OK with a group of talented but inexperienced receivers.

The results showed otherwise.

Breaking in a new group of starting wideouts, Leinart found few open targets in the first half, going 8-for-16 for 102 yards. And the Trojans' rebuilt offensive line was providing sketchy protection.

So the junior looked to Bush, and the explosive sophomore came through when the Trojans looked as if they were in big trouble - trailing 10-7 late in the third quarter.

Bush lined up as a wide receiver, blew by Virginia Tech's best cornerback, Jimmy Williams, and cradled in a perfect over-the-shoulder throw from Leinart for a 53-yard touchdown with 1:55 left in the third.

Bush also opened the scoring by taking a middle screen 35 yards for a TD in the first quarter.

Otherwise, an offense that averaged 41 points and 447 yards last season struggled for most of three quarters against a Virginia Tech defense that is coming off its worst season in years.

Wide receivers Steve Smith, Dwayne Jarrett and Chris McFoy combined for eight catches and 87 yards.

Leinart picked it up in the second half and finished 19-for-29 for 272 yards, hitting 11 straight at one point. He finally found a wide receiver for long-gainer when he hit Smith for 46 yards in the fourth quarter.

On the next play, Bush sneaked out of the backfield and Leinart found him all alone for a 29-yard score that made it 21-13 with 5:35 left and finally allowed the outnumbered Trojans fans among the 91,665 at sold-out FedEx Field to relax a little.


Basically, Reggie Bush won a tight road opener for the eventual champs, playing out of position but otherwise carrying his team to a difficult victory.

Things heated up for Bush two games later against BYU.  The Trojans were down 3-0 on the road against the Cougars until 8:30 in the second quarter, when Bush caught another middle screen, this time knifing laterally through the BYU defense including a stunning dip-in side-step race towards the near corner of the end zone.

Six minutes later Bush pushed up the middle on a carry, mometarily losing himself inside a crowd of linemen and defenders before bouncing outside to the sidelines and jogging in for another six, silencing another road crowd and giving USC confidence after a shaky offensive first half.

The next week, the Trojans were once again on the road, this time against Bay Area rival Stanford.  In a mismatch on paper, USC fell behind big in the first half, at 28-17, and nearly 28-10 without another early Bush scamper to keep things close and ease the Trojans' offensive nerves.

With the game still close in the fourth quarter, Bush fielded a punt and proceded to spin, cut, lean, whirl and dance through the stanford defense before a gaggle of Cardinal defenders took him down.  It was USC's second-to-last possession, and a crucial one that ended in a LenDale white touchdown run after several tough Bush carries up the heart of the Stanford defense to give USC the victory margin, 31-28.

The following week, USC won in another tight game against California, and Bush struggled with his few carries, but his third-quarter 84-yard kick return made all the highlight shows and pushed USC to a rare offensive series in Cal's side of the field.

Bush had sound games against Arizona State (TD catch, TD throw) and Washington (TD catch), two predictable wins, and then scored on an amazing punt return against Washington State.  Bush fielded the ball, became pinned along the sideline, spun, and then took a wide arc heading towards the opposite side of the field, and raced untouched for the touchdown.  This was after a first-quarter 19-yard touchdown run where he went untouched after bouncing outside on a run designed up the middle.

The next week, underneath a heavy blanket of fog, USC struggled against Oregon State, falling behind 13-7 at half, with a -3 turnover ratio.  After a Dominique Byrd 1-handed touchdown catch, Bush somehow fielded a punt (he fumbled one earlier after losing it in the fog) and dashed through the Beaver defense for yet another punt return touchdown that finally relaxed a tense Trojan squad and put them up 21-13, in a game that was once again a tight match with the Trojans winning 28-20.

Bush finally had a quiet game against Arizona, a 49-9 Trojan victory.

Against Notre Dame, Matt Leinart basically won the Heisman, but Bush provided a highlight moment, taking a short pass over the head of a Notre Dame linebacker and racing along the sidelines for a 69-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.

Bush might have saved his best for last, another close Trojan victory over rival UCLA at the Rose Bowl.  On the game's opening series, Bush dashed into the Bruin secondary and outraced several defenders, picking up a block from Dwayne Jarrett and somersaulting famously into the end-zone for a 65-yard score.  Later, in the second quarter, Bush again went long, racing past a shocked UCLA linebacker corps and secondary to cruise into the end-zone for an 81-yard run.

Bush put together a fine game, rushing for a career-high 204 yards, catching another 73, and 335 all-purpose.  Bush's phantom late fumble somewhat marred a stunning offensive performance in which he humiliated a Bruin defense on their own home field.

Earlier, I said my criteria this year had to do with Bush's uncanny ability to win games for his team.

After thinking about USC's struggles at times in 2004, the one constant was Bush pulling them through the most difficult of games; Virginia Tech, Stanford, California, Oregon State and UCLA.  Each one of those games were memorable if you were watching for a team, or a player, to make a difference.  Each time his number was called, Bush delivered in huge ways.

I found it striking that at the Trojans' weakest, their opener against VT, Bush was already in top form.  It was like every time Tech showed signs of taking command of the game, Bush answered, symbolically telling the Hokies, "I'll be here all night".  I think a critical aspect of football is psychological, and in that sense, Bush was USC's psychological weapon.  He was ruthless on opponents, who had to prepare for him and lose sleep over him, only to see him do something in the most tense and stressing of moments.

Bush closed USC's regular season much as he opened it, bludgeoning his opponent on stunning scores to carry his team on his back.  And of course there were those other highlight performances in easier games that we've mentioned.  The guy scored four (nearly five) ways and will basically bring "all-purpose" yardage back into the college football lexicon this season (much as Rocket Ismail and Desmond Howard did in the early 1990's), opening the door not only for himself, but for players like California's Marshawn Lynch and Ohio State's Ted Ginn, Jr.

So, for me, Bush's impact was entirely critical to his team's success, memorably pulling out at least five victories (four of them on the road, one in inclement weather---Oregon State---and two in highly hostile conditions---Virginia Tech and Stanford) from a non-quarterback position.  Bush has lived up to his recruiting hype and is the safety valve for his team.  No other player can really claim that except perhaps Vincent Young, but even Young was nowhere near as consistent and destructive as Bush in 2004.

Not even close.

Congratulations to Reggie Bush, CollegeFootballResource.com's Heisman Trophy selection.


Sunday
Jul102005

Free advertising

Must be nice to work and play in L.A.---

RBush.jpg

Reggie Bush's Heisman campaign just got some major free advertising.  In a Sunday ad for Best Buy, no less.

That looks like the Heisman pose, to me.

Thursday
Jul072005

Friday Heisman blogging

  • New digs
We've added a Heisman section to our menu at left.  Right now there are eight sections:

  1. Heisman Vote Project-More details soon.  I want to be a Heisman voter, to keep it simple.  I guess it takes some lobbying and/or hey, look at me, Heisman committee.  Heisman Pundit tells me I've got a very slim shot.  He would know these things.  But I'll try anyway.
  2. Heisman Links-We've moved our Heisman links from the Heisman/Major Awards links section, freeing up the Major Awards links, and condensing the Heisman links.  It's an impressive collection of Heisman links that will continue to grow.
  3. The Heismandments-HeismanPundit's brilliant Heismandments.  They're the Heisman rules.  I dare you to find a more coherent analysis of the Heisman reality.
  4. Heisman Winners-It was a laborious effort inputting that information, but it makes for one less click to find out the names of the 70 or so famous men who have won the award.  Resource.
  5. Heisman Discussion Forum-I have great hope for this new feature.  It's just like any other message board, start a thread or reply to one, but it's ALL about the Heisman.  I'll be begging HeismanPundit to stop by often.
  6. Matt Leinart Watch
  7. Reggie Bush Watch
  8. Adrian Peterson Watch-These watches were created to track the three leading 2005 Heisman Trophy candidates.  Basically, we just want to keep tabs on these elite, generational college football players.  These pages should be quite interesting, and will be updated often.  Stop by soon.
  • Reggie Bush interview
BigPlayMag has an interview with USC superback and Heisman candidate Reggie Bush.  I haven't listened yet, so if you take the time to do so, feel free to give us a report on what was said.

  • Heisman candidate page
Dr.Football.net has his list of candidates for the 2005 Heisman Trophy.  Notice his top three?  No surprise there.  I am surprised that the media's more or less choosing Matt Leinart #1 early.  At least he's not being written off before the season as a no-shot since its become so difficult to win the award twice.

  • Back it up
Here's a very cool Sports Illustrated image gallery of Heisman winning backs.  Will this be the year the award finally goes back to the backs?  The trending of late towards quarterback winners means history says no.  But Heismandment #9 says "there will never be another two-time Heisman winner", which in theory eliminates USC quarterback Matt Leinart.  The remaining Heisman finalists from last year are ballyhooed backs Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma and Reggie Bush of USC.  Both now have plenty of highlights, a body of work as reference for voters, and play at prestigious Heisman programs.  In other words, they're entrenched as elite candidates unless injuries or a case of the yips (see Vincent, Justin) get in their way.

  • Trivia
A question---who do you think CollegeFootballResource.com would have chosen last year if he had a Heisman vote?  Hint---his Heisman pick was a back.

The answer next Friday.