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Anonymous asked in SportsFootball (American) · 9 years ago

Heisman Trophy winners...?

This is a two part question---

1) Why are Heisman Trophy winners not "shoe-ins" to make it in the NFL? Wasn't it Charlie Ward that went and played pro basketball? Some have done well but others have flopped.

2) Do you have to be on a Nationally Ranked team in order to get the media coverage neccessary to win the Heisman? Could someone at a small school ever pull it off?

18 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Compared to college football, the NFL is an very team-oriented game. Any star player needs solid backup (an offensive skill player, whether a QB, RB or WR needs offensive lineman, for example). In addition, NFL strategy is sophisticated, requiring far more strategy and good decision making than the average fan ever sees.

    A Heisman candidate often has superior physical skills, enough to dominate another team. But that is no guarantee that they have the mental skills to comprehend an NFL defensive scheme, or even be able to understand their own offensive playbook. Running backs do best here, I think, because the position is least sophisticated. Quarterbacks the opposite: super-talented Michael Vick has struggled compared to much less athletic Peyton Manning.

    Another reason is that a college system can be more one sided - generating huge stats for their key players. Quarterbacks benefit from a passing game (and a bad defense) just as a running back benefits from a running game. Such players find it hard changing roles to fit into an NFL where those college strategies fail.

    I also feel that any discipline issues will kill a player faster than any other flaw: if you are a Heisman with attitude (Marinovich, Leaf) you will find yourself on the bench, assuming you stay out of jail.

    A small school can field a real Heisman candidate, but it's tougher. Media attention is key, and you need exposure to generate that kind of contention. But you can earn your exposure, too. ESPN started covering division I-AA Alcorn State because of some quarterback named Steve McNair, currently playing for the Ravens. He became the highlight reel of the NCAA that year by generating 527 yards per game of offense (including over 600 yards in one game!) Jerry Rice (Miss. Valley) also finished in the top-5 Heisman voting.

    Hope this helps!

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Question 1: Why are Heisman Trophy winners not "shoe-ins" to make it in the NFL?

    Only 5 percent of college athletes go on to play sports professionally

    Let's take the last 20 - and compare

    1986 Vinny Testaverde Miami (Fla) QB Sr. 2,213 (Played well)

    1987 Tim Brown Notre Dame WR Sr. 1,442

    1988 Barry Sanders Oklahoma State RB Jr. 1,878 (Played well)

    1989 Andre Ware Houston QB Jr. 1,073

    1990 Ty Detmer Brigham Young QB Jr. 1,482 (Played well)

    1991 Desmond Howard Michigan WR Jr. 2,077

    1992 Gino Torretta Miami (Fla) QB Sr. 1,400

    1993 Charlie Ward Florida State QB Sr. 2,310

    1994 Rashaan Salaam Colorado RB Jr. 1,743

    1995 Eddie George Ohio State RB Sr. 1,460 (Played well)

    1996 Danny Wuerffel Florida QB Sr. 1,363

    1997 Charles Woodson Michigan CB Jr. 1,815

    1998 Ricky Williams Texas RB Sr. 2,355 (Played well)

    1999 Ron Dayne Wisconsin RB Sr. 2,042

    2000 Chris Weinke Florida State QB Sr. 1,628

    2001 Eric Crouch Nebraska QB Sr. 770

    2002 Carson Palmer USC QB Sr. 1,328 (Played well)

    2003 Jason White Oklahoma QB Jr. 1,481

    2004 Matt Leinart USC QB Jr. 1,325

    2005 Reggie Bush USC RB Jr. 2,541 (Played well)

    Without even looking up the other guys, I as a casual football fan know that these guys all played - that's at least 7/20 or over 30%, well, well above the average

    But, let's look on

    Matt Leinart

    Jason White

    Eric Crouch

    Chris Weinke

    Ron Dayne

    Charles Woodson

    Danny Wuerffel

    well, I won't go on - so far all of them have made it to the NFL - I guess startdom is reserved for a very few, and since these are mostly skill positions, there is a lot of completion.

    2. I'd say definitely - I don't see too many Omaha College of DENTISTRY guys on that list. I doubt a guy could win the Heisman from a team outside of the BCS these days

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    To answer your first question, college football and the NFL can be 2 very different games. Defensive backs are not nearly as fast and talented as in the NFL team by team, so a QB can very effective in college football who is very accurate without necessarily having a super strong arm, where in the NFL you need to be able to zip a ball in to a much smaller space. There have been a number of very good college QB's whose arms where not strong enough for the NFL- take Troy Smith this year, Brad Banks from Iowa, Josh Heupel from Oklahoma, and of course Ward. These guys were all Heisman winners or runners up, but none of them went on to NFL success. Also, some college offenses use system you would never see in the NFL, the spread and the option are perfect examples. You could have a super talented option QB, but no NFL offense would ever run those plays, so his skills do not translate to the NFL--- Antwan Randle El is the perfect example, he of couse has made it in the NFL at WR, but no team would have ever used him as a QB like in college.

    Your second question as to can a small school team produce a Heisman winner, I would say hypothetically, yes, but that team would have to be nationally ranked and had a great year. I don't care what your numbers are, if your team is 3-9 you are not going to get any respect, but a Boise State type team could produce a Heisman winner. There have been a number of smaller schools have players in the Heisman talk before, it would just require a perfect storm for that player to win it. There have been a number of runner ups from smaller schools in just the last decade--- Larry Fitzgerald from Pitt, Michael Bishop from Kansas State, Troy Davis from Iowa Sate, and Andre Ware won a Heisman for Houston in 1989.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Name 1 Heisman Trophy winner who went to the Hall of fame Trick question There is a Heisman Curse i remember there are 15 heisman trophy winners that never got ask to even go to training camp some just get hurt others sit on the bench for there whole career If i was a college Player who wanted to be big in the nfl i would Refuse the Heisman Trophy I Truly believe there is a curse

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  • ?
    Lv 4
    9 years ago

    This excerpt answers your first question:

    We will start with the NFL part of the curse first. Since 1989, when then-University of Houston quarterback Andre Ware won the award, only 6 of the Heisman Trophy winners are playing or have had any success in the NFL, those players being Carson Palmer (2002), Chris Weinke (2000), Ron Dayne (1999), Ricky Williams (1998), Charles Woodson (1997), and Eddie George (1995), with only 3 of those players currently starting or getting any significant playing time. Many Heisman Trophy winners go high in the NFL Draft (Andre Ware and Carson Palmer), but just as many end up in the lower rounds of the draft(Eric Crouch and Chris Weinke) or go completely undrafted(Charlie Ward).

    This brings up this question: why do so many of the Heisman Trophy winners fail with their NFL careers? Is it truly a curse, or just a mere coincidence? Our experts here at ESPN say it is just coincidence. The only thing that this supposed curse proves is the difference in talent level and size between the NFL and the collegiate level. In the NFL, everyone is fast and strong, not just a few players on each team, like it is in college. Since the NFL only has 32 teams, only the best of the best make it, and talent is far less strung out, unlike the college game, where there are hundreds of teams competing for the best players. So, we would have to say to those of you worried about ruining your NFL career by winning the Heisman Trophy, do not worry; you can win the Heisman Trophy and still have success in the NFL (see Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders, and Tim Brown, just to name a few), just do not expect it to guarantee your success!


    For your second question:

    The closest that a player outside of the modern Division I-A came to winning the Heisman is third place. Steve McNair, from Division I-AA Alcorn State, finished third in the voting in 1994. Gordie Lockbaum, from Division I-AA Holy Cross, finished third in the voting in 1987.[1]


    To add my opinion from my reading in response to your question, the fact that former winners have a vote and there is a bias of former winners to support their former team then chances of a non major winning are slim. However, if a non major program player does happen to win the chances for other non-major program players of winning in the future may increase.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Charlie Ward won the award while at Florida State by the second largest percentage

    in history behind O.J. Simpson.When Ward was told he was probably not a first

    round draft pick he got ticked off and went to the NBA instead to the New York Knicks.

    Players from lesser known or ranked schools do have a harder time getting recognition.

    How many times did Jerry Rice win the Heisman?

    Other Heisman flops include Pat Sullivan,Chris Weinke,Matt Leinart,Gino Toretto,

    Andre WareJohn Capaletti and Johnny Rodgers.

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  • 9 years ago

    This has been the Heisman curse over the years. The Heisman Trophy is awarded "to an individual who deserves designation as the most outstanding college football player in the United States." (taken from Unfortunately, due to the nature of NCAAF, college systems tend be more flexible in shifting their gameplans to the abilities of their "elite" athletes. Hence the spread offense, the wishbones, and the rise of running quarterbacks. In addition, due to the shear size of the college football scene there is a major difference between quality athletes and average athletes, even on the same team. This allows those "elite" athletes to be utilized more and showcase their talents versus lesser competition.

    One of those "elite" athletes will end up winning the Heisman Trophy. But a lot of the momentum gained to convince the Heisman voters to choose this athlete is generated by the media, competition vs. average talent, etc... When they are drafted and participate in the NFL, the run into road blocks consisting of: A significantly higher level of competition, coaching plans that do not center around them specifically, and the expectation of greatness that carried over from their media blitz to get the Heisman. Those factors and the history of Heisman winners in the NFL have made NFL scouts aware of the voters tendancies and thus you end up with trophy winners not even being drafted high.

    Do you have to be on a Nationally Ranked team to get the Heisman? In this day and age, yes you do. Heisman voters have a limited amount of time to watch games, so they utilize the media, sportswriters, bloggers, etc... to limit their top choices. Then having games nationally televised assists those voters. They also want to see the candidates facing "top" competition, that defaults to Nationally ranked teams, because that is all they have to go by...

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Ok heisman trophy winners like to leave their college at there sophmore and junior years. they need to stay and play their whole 4 or 5 years. A small division 1 school can pull it off, but a division2 or 3 can't

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    The pro and college games are different. So guys who maybe good in college don't fair well in the pro game. It's kinda like a guy who is a stud in high school struggles in college.

    Yes it helps to be a nationally ranked team to get the heisman.

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  • 4 years ago

    Hey andy h... The Heisman is for the best player in college football, not on what he does in the NFL. If a guy wasn't drafted or didn't play in the NFL, then he CANNOT POSSIBLY BE A BUST IN THE NFL. You probably need to try and comprehend the questions before you try and answer them. A bust in the NFL would be someone drafted high and expected to do well. Try someone like Danny Wuerffel or Andre Ware.

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