Let's talk a bit about the Heisman Trophy.
For starters, yes I know that Heisman winners generally suck in the NFL, and that at Alabama we win championships and not Heismans, and that it usually doesn't go to the best player, and yes it's over-hyped. Look, I get it. Nevertheless, all the pissing and moaning aside, the Heisman Trophy is with little doubt the single most prestigious individual award in all of big-time sports, so it merits legitimate discussion.
The basic question is this: Whose Heisman Is It?
Coming into the season, everyone's favorites were USC quarterback John David Booty, leader and likely All-American of what most felt to be the eventual national champion, and Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden, generally regarded as the best player in the country.
But both of those players have fallen off the map. John David Booty got off to a good start, but he played terrible in a loss to Stanford, and is now injured. His Heisman candidacy is all but over, and the truth of the matter is that unless he can get healthy and play well soon, he won't even make the All Pac-10 teams, much less win the Heisman. Darren McFadden, on the other hand, is that good, but Arkansas is terrible (they may not even make a bowl) and at this point he is staying beat up with all of the carries he has to take, so health is a major concern for him. Though he's probably the best player in the country, you can basically forget him winning the Heisman. Players from 6-6 or 7-5 teams don't win the Heisman, even if they are the greatest thing since sliced bread (and I know about Hornung, but nonetheless).
Brian Brohm, too, was thought by many to be a potential Heisman contender when he turned down the big bucks from the NFL to return for a senior season at Louisville. Unfortunately, things haven't gone well at all, and the Cardinals are mediocre at best. Brohm is still playing great, but his team is so poor that it will eliminate any chance of him actually winning the Heisman.
The Big East had three other Heisman "candidates," or at least they advertised as such: Ray Rice, Pat White, and Steve Slaton. You can safely cross those three off of the list as well. Rice is good, but Rutgers isn't good enough to produce a Heisman winner. Pat White choked against South Florida and is now hurt. Steve Slaton whithered against good defenses, and he's out. Again, cross all three off the list.
Mike Hart of the Michigan Wolverines was a possibility, but that seems highly unlikely now in light of the Wolverines' loss to Appalachian State and meltdown against Oregon. He's done well, but unless Michigan can really make a run at a BCS bowl -- which is possible given the weakness of the Little Ten -- he's not going to win it. Moreover he has big injury concerns.
Some people thought that DeSean Jackson, the wide receiver out of Cal, could step forward and potentially take the award due to the fact he is a great receiver and a great returner. But Jackson has been a major disappointment this year. Through six games, only once has he gotten more than 45 receiving yards in a game, and he's not even averaging 10 yards per catch. Cross him off the list.
Colt Brennan? Not gonna happen.
Tim Tebow has played well enough to deserve a shot at the Heisman, and the Gators can certainly produce a Heisman winner. Unfortunately for Tebow, sophomores don't win the Heisman -- no sophomore or freshman has ever won the Heisman -- and that is just what he is at the moment. If he can stay healthy as a junior and a senior, the Heisman may very well be in his future. But this year? Not happening.
So with so many contenders falling by the wayside, just who is going to win this thing? Obviously it has to go to someone, but who?
At the moment, I have two people that I think have to be considered the front-runners at the moment...
Kentucky's Andre Woodson and Oregon's Dennis Dixon.
For Andre Woodson, I thought his Heisman candidacy was done when he had an absolute meltdown in front of a nationwide audience against South Carolina. And then the following week he comes out and redeems himself with a shocking victory over #1 LSU. I'm not saying he is going to be win it, or that he is the front-runner, but if he can get Kentucky into the SEC Championship Game, he's probably going to win it all. Now that's still a very long road -- and will likely require wins over Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee -- but if he can do it, I really don't see how he misses out on the Heisman.
Dennis Dixon is probably going to catch some of you by surprise, but he has what it takes. The Ducks are 6-1, and may very well win the Pac-10. At the very least, even if they don't, they are in great shape for a shot at a BCS bowl. Dixon has been the undisputed leader of the team, and he has played lights out. He's currently 3rd in the country in passer rating, as he has completed 70% of his passes for 15 touchdowns against just 2 interceptions. Moreover, he's a dual-threat, as evidenced by his 300+ yards rushing and 6 touchdowns on the ground. If Oregon can reach a BCS bowl game, Dixon is going to get very serious attention from the Heisman voters.
And if those two guys fade... who even knows?