Lets start this post with a quick fact. A fact that is both shocking but not really that shocking once your really think about it. The Heisman trophy has been given out 77 times since the first award was handed to Jay Berwanger of the Chicago Maroons. Just 16* schools have combined to win 55 of those 77 trophies. This illustrates a point that the past few summers have made crystal clear. In college Football there are just 20 (or so) programs that matter, the rest of the programs exist to serve the interest of the major players. So the question is who would have won the Heisman if all the obvious picks from name brand schools are somehow incapacitated?*
* Those schools USC, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Army, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Navy, Texas, Wisconsin and Yale. Army, Navy and Yale are obviously have nots list now with spots on this list because of outstanding contributions to the game or some other bullshit (pardon my french)
* I am starting the exercise from 1998 because the start of the BCS is as good an arbitrary stopping point as the next one
Michael Bishop - QB - Kansas State | How could it not be Michael Bishop? Ricky Williams got the good old fashioned Career Achievement Heisman, a concept that I hate but completely understand. Bishop finished a distant, and I do mean distant, second in the voting. But he was electrifying for Kansas State that year and came one game from leading Kansas State to the National Championship game. The same Kansas State that was for decades the homecoming game de jour for Big 8 foes.
Michael Vick - QB - Virginia Tech | A case where the Have Not Heisman Winner should have also walked home with the actual trophy. As we all know Ron Dayne won the trophy for the breaking the exact same record that Ricky Williams broke. Flimsy reasoning from my perspective. But College Football had no idea what to do with Vick. Defenses had no idea how to defend him, the media had no way to quantify him either as a player or as a freshman. Rather than wrestling with any of the complex issues that swelled into existence when Vick came on the scene Heisman Voters simply went conservative with Dayne.
LaDainian Tomlinson - RB - Texas Christian | Tomlinson was but a shadow and a name to me when he was playing. I heard about this running back out in Texas who was doing obscene things week after week. But I didn't know anything about him. Youtube didn't exist, the internet was years away from its current form. For me Tomlinson was a myth until he got to the NFL. It was only later that dug up the youtube to realize that holy shit, this guy was crazy good.
David Carr - QB - Fresno State | 2001 was the year I discovered that on Saturday night there was Football on until 3 or 4 in the morning for those who wanted it. Those games would invariably be the WAC game of the week and more often than not in 2001 it was Fresno State and David Carr bombing away on people with impunity. 2001 was the year that Carr and the Bulldogs strolled into Camp Randal and got the biggest win of the Pat Hill era, really the only big win of the Pat Hill era.
Byron Leftwhich - QB - Marshall | The last of the really great players from Marshall at the end of the Bob Pruett era. Leftwich had one of the signature moments of that season. Lets not forget that he also had one hell of a year for the Herd. He isn't the best player (or even QB) in Marshall history but he is the only one to win the Have Not Heisman.
Larry Fitzgerald - WR -Pitt | I really, really wanted to give this year to Darren Sproles who was around forever and a constant figure in the period where I went from being a big College Football fan to a borderline obsessive College Football fan.*** Still the Have Not Heisman goes to Larry Fitzgerald who will forever have my enduring admiration despite the fact that he went to Pitt.
*** From roughly 2001 through 2004
Alex Smith - QB - Utah | In a perfect world Alex Smith would be the antidote to Ty Detmer. And in a perfect world I would give a Have Not Heisman to Dan Mullen and Urban Meyer rather than smith because Smith was little but a cypher for the ingenious duo who turned college football on its head. Still Alex Smith was simply remarkable that year. I still hold that the perfect QB for the Urban Meyer system has more in common with Alex Smith than he does with Tim Tebow. Plus he beat the shit out of Pitt, always a plus in my book.
Adrien Peterson - RB - Oklahoma | It only took 850 rules for me to break my own rules of this post. But AD clearly should have won the Heisman after he breathtaking Freshman season. It took a year for defenses to catch up to the magnitude of the situation and the innate threat that Peterson posed to opposing teams. In many respects Peterson had a college career arc similar to Herschal Walker. But unlike Walker AP never got the Heisman he deserved.
DeAngelo Williams - RB - Memphis | Also known as the last good Memphis Football player. No Dontari Poe was not good, he just had unreal athletic ability.
Calvin Johnson - WR - Georgia Tech | I miss pre megatron Calvin Johnson. When he was just a receiver playing for Georgia Tech. Where the sense of inevitability hadn't yet formed about him. Calvin Johnson was simply amazing. His jaw dropping catches to catches ratio was higher than anyone else's. Ever. The most amazing thing about Johnson was that he managed to have almost 3000 receiving yards with Reggie Ball as his quarterback. Truly amazing.
Chase Daniel - QB - Missouri | Because every heisman list needs at least one player on it who is as wide as he is tall****. Also Chase Daniel was freaking great in 2007 and Missouri was one of my favorite teams from that season. I still have occasional video game dreams of Chase Daniel throwing bombs over the top to Jeremy Maclin.
**** Just under 1,100 words for the first Ron Dayne fat joke of the post.
Nate Davis - QB - Ball State | Simply because anyone who can make Ball State relevant to the sporting world at large should obviously have won something for his trouble. Davis cashed in on his opportunity provided by his magical year. He now plays for Amarillo Venom so things worked out great...
Mardy Gilyard - WR - Cincinnati | You already know.
Colin Kaepernick - QB - Nevada | I know my arguments for a lot of these are of the "how can you not...?" variety but seriously how could you not love Kaepernick? His nickname was the Angry Ostrich. He played in one of the most mesmeric offenses in the country and he personally saw to it that Boise State's dreams of playing for a national title were left shattered and broken on the floor.
Robert Griffin III - QB - Baylor | RG3 is the first Have Not Heisman winner to actually win the real thing. You couldn't make me change this pick.
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