Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ranking the Greatest Non-Heisman Winners

There have been many, many greats to win the Heisman Trophy. Earl Campbell. Barry Sanders. Doug Flutie. However, there have been some more forgettable winners as well. Gino Torreta. Chris Weinke. Gary Beban. Players who win the coveted award go down in history as greats of the game, and deservedly so, but winning the Heisman does not automatically make a player better than one who didn't. Here's the Phenom's rankings of the 15 greatest players never to win the Heisman since the award was started in 1936.

1. Vince Young, QB, Texas
2. Tommie Frazier, QB, Nebraska
3. Jim Brown, RB, Syracuse
4. Hugh Green, DE, Pittsburgh
5. Marshall Faulk, RB, San Diego State
6. Eric Dickerson, RB, SMU
7. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
8. Peyton Manning, QB, Tennessee
9. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, TCU
10. Josh Heupel, QB, Oklahoma
11. John Elway, QB, Stanford
12. Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
13. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
14. Drew Brees, QB, Purdue
15. Tommy Nobis, LB/OG, Texas

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why We Love College Football

     Why do we love college football?
     Is it the fact that the players are playing for the love of the game, not the money? Is it the lack of domed stadiums filled named for corporate sponsors, or the sacred traditions like the Dawg Walk at Georgia and the White Out at Penn State. Maybe it's the fact that the players are free of pesky, leeching agents. Well, I guess it's not that.
     No, the reason we love college football has less to do with football than we think. We love it because of the rivalries, which are more intense than in any other sport. Yankees-Red Sox? Give me Ohio State-Michigan. Lakers-Celtics? I'll take Texas-Oklahoma, thanks.
     We love it because of the fans, who pack the stadiums with their bodies and liven it with deafening noise. In the NFL, there may be a home field advantage. But is there one in college football? Go to Baton Rouge on a Saturday night and you'll have your answer.
     We love showing up for a 7 pm game at noon, tailgating with old friends and watching the 11 o'clock Big Ten game and mooching off neighboring grills for a hamburger, hot dog, or even a little rattlesnake meat.
     We love watching the Thursday night C-USA showdown on TV, having no interest in the game but desperately needing a college football fix.
     We love reading Stuart Mandel, Pat Forde, and Ivan Maisel, lauding them when they praise our teams but ripping them when they slight them.
     We love watching the Heisman Ceremony, and we love striking a pose when our guy wins. We love catching the earlier Awards show, seeing if our favorite defensive back, receiver, or lineman can get the respect he's due.
     We love our heroes, and we hate to see them go to the next level. We love Vince Young, we love Tim Tebow, we love Ty Detmer, and we love Roger Staubach.
     We love 80,000 fans, split down the middle, one half burnt orange, one half crimson and cream. We love "Enter Sandman" blared at Virginia Tech and "Zombie Nation" at Penn State.
     We love Traveller, Sparty, and Big Al. We love Ralphie, Bevo, and Uga.
     We love the upsets, unless they happen to us.
     We love the Rose Bowl and the Rose Bowl Parade, but wish the Fiesta Bowl would go back to Sun Devil Stadium and the Cotton Bowl would return to, well, the Cotton Bowl.
     We love our service academies, and we love the heroes that hit the line of scrimmage before hitting the front lines.
     We love the Grove at Ole Miss, where there is an 18 MPH speed limit in honor of its the great quarterback Archie Manning. We love the Alabama championship winning coaches' statues on the Walk of Champions.
     We love College Gameday, we love watching Lee Corso putting on the mascots' headgear, and we love Erin Andrews.
     We love Fight On, the Notre Dame Victory March, and Boomer Sooner. We love "Rammer Jammer", the Seminole War Chant, and "Pig Sooie".
     We love talking about the year we won it all, but we hate talking about the year we came this close.
     Guys, as the college football season nears, don't get too wrapped up in the wins and losses. Yes winning is important, but we're just fans, not players. If we get too wrapped up in the actual game, we'll miss out on what college football really is.
    And we sure wouldn't love that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Heisman Ballot: Preseason

I am still in the first week of working on this site, so I figured I would start out with the obligatory preseason All-Americans and Top 10. However I was thinking that this would be a more frequent post; every week I would do a mock Heisman ballot based on how things went that week and how the player had performed throughout the season. Like a Heisman ballot, it would only contain three players (a first place, second place, and third place player). Here's my preseason edition:

1. Mark Ingram, Jr. RB, Alabama
     - Although the odds of Ingram winning the trophy again are low, the poll is based on what the player has done, not what I think he will do, so for now, Ingram gets my #1 vote; he is the only returning Heisman finalist, and the winner at that. Yes, there's talk that he may not be as talented as his own backup, Trent Richardson, and yes, with the continued development of QB Greg McElroy the passing game should receive more attention this year, but Ingram has earned it.

2. Jacory Harris, Jr. QB, Miami (Fla.)
    - Harris is my first team preseason All-American at QB, and he is due for a Heisman-worthy season after his breakout campaign in 2009. A good passer but average runner Harris will benefit from the maturation of his line and his receivers, as well as a stingy defense.

3. Terrelle Pryor, Jr. QB, Ohio State
    - Yes, I gave my second-team All-American quarterback spot to Arkansas' Ryan Mallet, but Pryor has a more compelling case for the trophy considering he will almost certainly be on a better team, one that should contend for a national title. Could Arkansas surprise everybody? Sure, and if they do Mallet will most likely make an appearance here. Could Ohio State fail to meet expectations? Yes, it's happened before. But until then Pryor gets my #3 spot.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Phenom's Preseason All-Americans

First Team
QB- Jacory Harris, Miami (Fla.)
RB- Mark Ingram, Alabama
RB- Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh
OL- Joseph Barksdale, LSU
OL- Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
OL- Mike Pouncey, Florida
OL- Nate Solder, Colorado
OL- Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
TE- Weslye Saunders, South Carolina
WR- A. J. Green, Georgia
WR- Michael Floyd, Notre Dame

DL- Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh
DL- Robert Quinn, North Carolina
DL- Jared Crick, Nebraska
DL- Marcel Dareus, Alabama

LB- Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina
LB- Von Miller, Texas A&M
LB- Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
CB- Patrick Peterson, LSU
CB- Aaron Williams, Texas
S- Rahim Moore, UCLA
S- DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson

Special Teams
K- Kai Forbath, UCLA
P- Drew Butler, Georgia
KR- Jeff Demps, Florida

Second Team

QB- Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
RB- Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
RB- Noel Devine, West Virginia
OL- Jason Pinkston, Pittsburgh
OL- Rodney Hudson, Florida State
OL- DeMarcus Love, Arkansas
OL- Orlando Franklin, Miami (Fla.)
OL- Derrick Sherrod, Mississippi State
TE- Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame
WR- Julio Jones, Alabama
WR- Terrence Toliver, LSU

DL- Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
DL- Marvin Austin, North Carolina
DL- Cameron Hayward, Ohio State
DL- Sam Acho, Texas
LB- Greg Jones, Michigan State
LB- Bruce Carter, North Carolina
LB- Mark Herzlich, Boston College
CB- Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
CB- Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
S- Deunta Williams, North Carolina
S- Will Hill, Florida

Special Teams
K- Matt Bosher, Miami (Fla.)
P- Derek Epperson, Baylor
KR- DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma

Monday, August 9, 2010

Phenom's Preseason Top 10

1. Alabama
Last year: #1 AP/Coaches
- Although the Tide loses many defensive starters, including #8 overall NFL Draft pick Rolando McClain, a middle linebacker, space-eating tackle Terrence Cody, and ball hawking cornerbacks Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson, look for Nick Saban's recruting prowess to pay off with Bama reloading its defense for a potential repeat title run. Though it's defense has question marks, its offense does not; they return Heisman winner Mark Ingram at running back, along with his understudy Trent Richardson, who may be even more talented. Although they lose starting tight end Collin Peek from last year's team, the passing game should be more than able with returning starting quarterback Greg McIlroy and physical-freak receiver Julio Jones, who at 6-4, 211 could very well be a future NFL first round pick.

2. Boise State
Last year: #4 AP/Coaches
- Honestly, it's a complete fallacy that the Broncos are ranked #5 in this year's preseason Coaches' Poll. They won a BCS Bowl and return 21 of 22 starters, only losing NFL first round draft pick Kyle Wilson, the Broncos' top cornerback. Heisman candidate Kellen Moore, the team's sophomore starting quarterback will also be returning to the Smurf Turf, so this year's Broncos team could be special; even more special than Boise's Fiesta Bowl winners of '06 and '09.

3. Ohio State
Last year: #5 AP/Coaches
- The Buckeyes return starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who is coming off a dazzling MVP performance in the 2010 Rose Bowl. Pryor, who is considered by many to be the favorite to win the 76th Heisman Trophy, has never quite lived up to the hype that comes with being the #1 recruit according to, but he has shown flashes of brilliance and his 2010 season could be an accumulation of that. The Buckeyes don't lose much from last year's Big Ten championship team, and should be considered among the top contenders for the National Championship.

4. Florida
Last year: #3 AP/Coaches
- It's never easy to replace a legend, but that's what Gators quarterback John Brantley must do this fall. Brantley, a junior, will take over the reigns of the Florida offense from Heisman winner Tim Tebow, who led the Gators to the 2008 National Championship and played a reserve role for the 2006 National Championship Team. The Gators lose more than just Tebow, however; they also must find a way to replace WR Riley Cooper, ILB Brandon Spikes, and DE Carlos Dunlap, among others. Coach Urban Meyer must also prove to be fully committed to the team for it to be successful, which is far from a given after a tumultuous December that left Meyer hospitalized with esophageal spasms which resulted in an extended leave of absence during the offseason.

5. Texas
Last year: #2 AP/Coaches
- Speaking of replacing legends, the Longhorns have a legend of their own to replace. Colt McCoy, the NCAA's all time winningest quarterback and Maxwell Award winner exhausted his eligibility in 2009 and is now a member of the Cleveland Browns. Texas fans got a glimpse of what is to come during the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, in which McCoy was injured early on and then-Freshman Garrett Gilbert was called into replace him. After a rocky start, Gilbert managed to rally the Horns within three points of Alabama before Bama pulled away to win, 37-21. Gilbert will take over as signal caller for the Longhorns, and he bears high expectations as a highly ranked recruit. On the defensive side of the ball, the Longhorns should once again be strong under third year coordinator Will Muschamp, even though they lost safety Earl Thomas, defensive end Sergio Kindle, and defensive tackle Lamarr Houston, among others.

6. Nebraska
Last year: #14 AP/Coaches
- The Cornhuskers were one second away from beating Texas in the 2009 Big 12 Championship, and will use that as motivation going into the 2010 season. Although they lose all-everything defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the #2 overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Huskers return most of a very stout defense. The offense, which was mediocre at best in 2009, must build off of a strong Holiday Bowl performance. The team will go as far as the offense will take it.

7. Oklahoma
Last year: NR AP/Coaches
- Sooner fans hope Landry Jones will continue to mature as a passer going into the 2010 season. Jones, who was thrust into the starting role after Heisman winner Sam Bradford injured his shoulder in the first game of the season vs. BYU, will have a better offensive line and better receivers to work with, so look for his numbers to improve. The defense faces major question marks at tackle after losing Gerald McCoy, but look for rising sophomore Jamarkus McFarland to take his place. After an injury riddled 2009 campaign, there is nowhere to go but up for the Sooners.

8. Miami (Fla.)
Last year: #19 AP/Coaches
- Although they were embarrassed and appeared undisciplined at times during their Champs Sports Bowl loss to Wisconsin, the Hurricanes are without a doubt a team on the rise. Led by Coach Randy Shannon, a Miami graduate who is in a do-or-die season, and quarterback Jacory Harris, a bona fide Heisman candidate, the Canes will face higher expectations than they have in a while, but look for them to meet them. Although not yet title contenders, the Hurricanes should win the ACC.

9. TCU
Last year: #6 AP/Coaches
- TCU returns most of last year's Fiesta Bowl team, including quarterback Andy Dalton, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2009. Minus end Jerry Hughes, the defense should once again be stout. The offense should be improved from last year as well with the continued maturation of Dalton. However, much skepticism remains about whether or not the Horned Frogs have what it takes to hang with the big boys, especially after their Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State, who isn't even in a BCS conference. The Frogs will have a chance to make their case vs. Oregon State Sept. 4.

10. Virginia Tech
Last year: #10 AP/Coaches
- Every year it seems Virginia Tech is ranked in the preseason Top 10, and every year they seem to slide out of the national conversation by October, only to wind up ranked 8-12 come January. Does this team have what it takes to be different? With its always stout defense and sophomore sensation running back Ryan Matthews, Hokies fans hope so. Their first major test comes Sept. 6 vs. Boise State at FedEx Field.