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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Heisman Jinx

With Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford winning the Heisman Trophy this past Saturday, the Florida Gators will automatically be the National Champions this upcoming bowl season. I make this bold prediction due to the emerging theory that winning the Heisman spells doom for the winner’s respective team in their upcoming college football postseason game. This decade itself has seen winners like Reggie Bush (costly fumble) go down to the Texas Longhorns and the Heisman runner up Vince Young in the 2005 Rose Bowl and last years’ winner Tim Tebow, was stopped in a Capital One Bowl shootout 41-35 to Michigan. Tebow failed to lead his team to victory on the Gator’s last drive by throwing four straight incompletions. Troy Smith, Ohio State’s victorious Heisman winner in 2006 also met a cruel fate with a horrible showing (4 for 14 passing, 1 interception) in the BCS Title Game that ended with a 41-14 drubbing at the hands of the Florida Gators.
It doesn’t end there either. In 2000, Heisman winner Chris Wienke saw his high powered Florida State Seminole offense get stonewalled (4 interceptions) by Oklahoma 13-2 in the Orange Bowl with only a last second safety staving off an embarrassing shutout. The following year was met with another Heisman failure where Nebraska’s quarterback Eric Crouch (5 for 15 passing) came under the storm of the Miami Hurricanes stout defense in a 37-14 blowout BCS title game loss. Again in 2003, the Heisman jinx would emerge with Jason White’s inability to achieve victory over LSU in the Sugar Bowl by going 13 for 37 passing with two interceptions. It seems that not only do the Heisman winners lose their bowl game; they also put up some pathetic statistics to go along with the lapse in victory.
Proponents of the Heisman theory feel that the never-ending post-Heisman banquet dinners and constant media attention throughout December take a toll on the winner, sapping him of any ability to concentrate on the future task at hand, winning his respective team’s bowl game. Critics of the jinx however point to the success of Heisman winners in the 1990s, with all but 1992 winner Gino Torretta failing to grasp a bowl victory (Sugar Bowl loss to Alabama). This decade has even seen 2004 Heisman winner Matt Leinart (USC QB) achieve an impressive 55-19 title win over Oklahoma in the ’05 Orange Bowl. Personally, with the around the clock sports news coverage and the exponential growth of the Internet as a tool to report on college football this decade, a different beast has emerged regarding media attention over the Heisman winner than in years past. Heisman winners just can’t stem the tide of public curiosity that envelopes them after accepting the preeminent football award.
Either way you look at it, the fact is that this decade’s Heisman winners are 2-6 in their post-award bowl game, a stark contrast to the 9-1 record of the 90s. The growth in sports media and information resources has to be the culprit. So go ahead and put your money down on the Gators this upcoming January, because there is no chance of Sam Bradford avoiding the horrendous fate that has been bestowed upon glorious players of the last eight years at the Downtown Athletic Club.
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