Sam Burnham, Curator
When I started covering college football on this site I immediately decided to not cover the hype of the race for the Heisman Trophy. I’ve grown to hate the entire fiasco. I don’t remember the last time I saw the award ceremony and I couldn’t tell you who won previous to last year.
But there’s a lot of uproar this year. Alabama fans are livid the award did not go to Tide QB Tua Tagovailoa. We can look at the stats and opponents and argue between Tagovailoa and winner Kyler Murray. But the spotlight on these two takes me back 31 years to another presentation of a trophy that allegedly goes to the most outstanding overall player in college football.
In 1987, Notre Dame wide receiver Tim Brown won the award based on an impressive season - catching 39 passes for 846 yards, 34 rushes for 144 yards,
23 kick returns for 456 yards, 34 punt returns for 401 yds and 7 total TDs. He played on a talented team that finished the regular season 8-3 and played in the Cotton Bowl.
But that year there was another player who deserved the Heisman Trophy more than Brown. At the much smaller Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts you would have found the rightful winner. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Gordie Lockbaum’s stats: 77 receptions for 1152 yds, 85 rushes for 403 yds, 2041 all purpose yds, 22 total TDs. AND he was a 1st Team All-American defensive back. That’s right, he played on offense, defense, and returned kicks. But he didn’t go to a high profile school or play on a Top 25 team. So he finished 3rd in the Heisman voting.
Thats the problem with the Heisman. It’s not about finding the most outstanding overall player, as it is intended to. It simply goes to the flashiest player on a major program. Yes, there was that one year that Houston’s Andre Ware won. But that was an anomaly and isn’t likely to ever happen again. A player on a non-contender doesn’t stand a chance.
Dont believe me?
Lets look at something.
Kyler Murray - QB Oklahoma
241/340 4053 yards 40 TD
123 rushes 892 yards 11 TD
Tua Tagovailoa - QB Alabama
199/294 3353 yards 37 TD
48 rushes 190 yds 5 TD
David Blough - QB Purdue
283/425 3521 yards 25 TD
Rondale Moore - WR Purdue
103 catches 1164 yards 12 TD
18 rushes 203 yards 1 TD
I’ve tossed Purdue’s David Blough and Rondale Moore into this conversation, not to say that either was robbed of The Heisman, as Lockbaum was, but to prove the point of fairness and feasibility. Blough and Moore put up numbers that would have them in the conversation...if they were at Michigan or Ohio State. Blough outpassed Tagovailoa and put up comparable total yards. Moore’s yardage dwarfs the numbers that won Tim Brown the trophy (admittedly in a different time.) Their names never even entered the conversation. They got their numbers on an average Big Ten team. Murray’s stats were gotten on the best offense in the worst defensive conference in the country. Tagovailoa’s stats were gotten on the best team in the country, period. Murray and Tagovailoa played equal or lesser teams every week. Blough and Moore were punching up almost every week.
All that being said, if the award is about the player and not the team, you cannot have a legitimate conversation about that trophy that doesn’t even mention Blough or Moore. Again, not saying either should have won, but for them to not get a passing glance proves the trophy is illegitimate for its stated purpose. Either redefine the thing or get back to the roots.
And until one of those happens, we return to not covering the Heisman Trophy.
The Curator and other knowledgeable voices...mostly Southerners... on the subject