Burrow a deserving winner of the Heisman Trophy


In most years, the winner of sports’ most famous trophy is the most deserving player. This year’s winner is LSU quarterback Joe Burrow — and yes, he deserved to win the Heisman Trophy.


Burrow has led LSU to a 13-0 record, No. 1 ranking, and top-seed in the CFB playoffs. He is among three quarterbacks who were included in the foursome invited to New York for the ceremony.

Along with Burrow, Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts and Ohio State QB Justin Fields, and Ohio State DL Chase Young were invited. The trio of QBs has one common denominator — they are all transfers from other schools. Burrow, a native of Athens, Ohio, transferred to LSU after failing to land the starting nod with the Buckeyes. Instead, Ohio State has Fields, who was Georgia’s backup QB as a freshman. Ditto for Hurts at Oklahoma. He lost the starting QB job at Alabama and headed for the dust bowl.


It’s nice that three “ex-backup” quarterbacks found fame in their new homes. What Fearless cannot comprehend is why the NCAA allowed Fields and Hurts to play without sitting out a season under the transfer rule. And the rule allowing graduates to transfer and play one more season at a new school is incomprehensible. “Loyalty Tech” pays for the player to go four years at their school and then the athlete bolts to a different venue. Slam bam, thank you Ma’am. What is fair about that?


Getting back to the Heisman, the award has gone to the most deserving player in almost every season since it was first awarded in the 1930s. For most of the history of the last eight decades, the Heisman went to a player based on “career achievement.” But times change, and so has the judging for the trophy. You still have to be a QB or RB at a top-five rated school to win this thing. Rah, rah. But in recent seasons the award has also gone to a few younger players.


The greatest player in college football history is the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner, Herschel Walker of Georgia. And no less than Steve Spurrier, Barry Switzer, Vince Dooley and Frank Broyles said there’s never been anyone else quite like the goal-line stalker. Had the voters cast their votes then like they do today, Walker would have also won the award in 1980 and 1981. Two “USC” backs, George Rogers and Marcus Allen, won in those years. Walker was better than either of them — and better in those years.


While Fearless voted for Burrow, and thinks the best player usually wins, there are a few glaring exceptions. In 1969, Oklahoma’s Steve Owens won it. The best player was Ole Miss QB Archie Manning. The 1989 and 1990 winners were Houston’s Andre Ware and BYU’s Ty Detmer. Really? In 1992, Miami QB Gino Torretta won the trophy, then tanked royally in their bowl game. Doak Walker (best RB) winner Garrison Hearst of Georgia should have won. Legendary coach Switzer of Oklahoma said he thinks the trophy should be awarded after the bowl games. He’s right.


Along with Ware, Detmer and Torretta, the other undeserving winners that stand out are ‘99 winner, RB Ron Dayne of Wisconsin, and ‘01 winner, QB Eric Crouch of Nebraska. I saw Dayne in the  ‘99 Outback Bowl against Georgia. He got eight yards on his first carry and finished the game with a grand total of 21 yards rushing, and the Badgers got whipped. And this guy wins the Heisman the next fall? The least-deserving winner of all-time is Crouch. He won the award and then did not even make the AP All-America team at quarterback. That distinction went to QB Rex Grossman of Florida. The AP added Crouch as the “all-purpose” player. He didn’t deserve that either. Indiana’s QB, WR and punter, Antwaan Randle El, not only should have been the all-purpose choice, he should have won the Heisman. Had he played for say, Michigan, he would have walked away with it.


Charles Woodson was a great player at Michigan and won the ‘97 Heisman. He played mostly as a DB, but occasionally was a WR. A great player, but not the greatest of 1997. That was another snubbed Manning, Peyton Manning of Tennessee. The turning point of the voting that year occurred four years earlier when Woodson went to Michigan and Manning to Tennessee. Flip their schools and Peyton wins in a landslide.  


The next season, as highlighted in a Sports Illustrated article, Georgia DB and WR Champ Bailey eclipsed everything Woodson did the previous year. Not only did Champ not win the Heisman, he didn’t even win the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top DB. That also went to another Big Ten player, Antoine Winfield. As our sharp readers know, Bailey was just elected to the Pro Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. Winfield was a “good” pro, but likely will never don the gold jacket, symbolic of entrance into football’s most prestigious circle of honor.


Southeast Sports Syndicate, 2019