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Taking Down The Heisman



Photo Attribution:Emily Nielsen

In my lifetime, and I grant you it is not one of considerable length, only twice has a Heisman winner and Heisman runner-up fallen to the same team in the same year.

The first time it happened was in 1986. Penn State, whose defense only allowed 11.1 points per game that year, shut down Temple (and eventual Heisman runner-up, Paul Palmer) 45-15 in the season opener. It took them four more months to complete the feat when they took down the freshly minted Heisman winner, Vinny Testaverde and his ‘Canes in the Fiesta Bowl, 14-10.

The only other team to do it since my date of birth in 1985, and I don’t know why I expected anything else here, was Florida’s Tim Tebow-Chris Leak duo in 2006. They beat Arkansas (and eventual Heisman runner-up, Darren McFadden) before besting Troy Smith (Ohio State), and his inexplicable widest margin of victory in the history of the award, in the national title game.

This means that Brandon Weeden and Oklahoma State have the opportunity to do something only two teams have done in the last 25 years: roll through the two best players in the country (if that’s what the Heisman still represents) in the same academic year.

The Cowboys already lambasted the Bears to the tune of “we have to take our starters out at the end of the third quarter so this doesn’t get embarrassing” back in October. This defeat naturally led to some vitriolic backlash from OSU fans towards Bob Griffin and the Superman socks he wore to receive his trophy last Saturday.

Backlash that, while not unwarranted (because what Heisman winner in recent memory has been that badly embarrassed in his own league?), is probably undeserved. Griffin and Weeden had essentially the same numbers: Weeden threw for more yards, Griffin ran for more, and they basically cancelled each other out statistically.

To say that Griffin meant more to his team than Weeden is to say that Ron White means more to the liquor industry than a casual drinker. Griffin was his team this year. Now that doesn’t excuse getting stroked in Stillwater while laying prostrate on the field turf literally begging for yellow laundry to flood the field, nor does it devalue what Weeden did all year, but it warrants mentioning.

It’s a shame too, that Weeden gets penalized because his receivers are good and his defense was strong and he had the best running back in the country that nobody really talked about. He was everything you could ever want from your incumbent All-Big 12 quarterback in his swan song: poised, gutsy, unselfish, smart, and icy.

Lord, was he icy.

And he went out every week and kept proving that he was for real and that this program had arrived. It was as if nobody believed what they were seeing from OSU this year, like they were putting in a cheat code or something. It felt like they had to reiterate the point every week with more touchdowns, bigger plays, and a larger margin of victory.

It’s scary to watch a team play, not against other teams, but against itself.

On January 2nd, as college football closes down it’s “kind of New Year’s Day” slate of games, Brandon Weeden has a chance to set fire to 652 of the 885 first place Heisman votes cast for Griffin and Luck. He has a chance to walk off the field with a 23-3 career record having defeated this year’s Heisman winner, this year’s Heisman runner-up, and four of the six most statistically-renowned QBs (Griffin-Foles-Landry-Doege) in 2011’s rendition of the college football season.

He has a chance to lay the wood to the robo-hype machine that has become whatever ESPN wants it to become, and to remind us that the only thing that matters in football, or any other sport really, is winning games.

You know, pretty much all he’s done since that late-night missile to Blackmon against Colorado in 2009.

Just one more time, Brandon, and if you make OSU’s equipment manager hold a pair of those Superman socks as you rip the cape off and shred it to pieces on national television while your 450 and 4 numbers flash all over the screen…

Well, I wouldn’t hate that either.

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