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Sports Authority

Ward: Give Heisman votes to former players

| Monday, November 18, 2019

I’m not a big fan of the Heisman Trophy in general. Ever since the award was given to Ohio State’s Troy Smith in 2006 over Brady Quinn, I started to tune out to the ridiculous spectacle. In my lifetime, this is when the award started to go downhill, but it can easily be argued that it started decaying long before this.

Just a year prior with Brady Quinn in the running again — likely in some sort of scheme attempt to boost viewership — Reggie Bush was forced to forfeit his trophy after it was decided by the NCAA that he had received “improper benefits” in the voting that allowed him to win. I’m not a huge Reggie Bush fan, as mentioned in previous articles. Although the Saints probably deserved to win the Super Bowl in 2010 after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina five years prior, I am still bitter Peyton Manning and the Colts were unable to get the job done in Miami. But after Bush was forced to vacate his Heisman, he brought up a good point that I believe is still relevant today. 

“One of the greatest honors of my life was winning the Heisman Trophy in 2005,” Bush said. “For me, it was a dream come true. But I know that the Heisman is not mine alone. Far from it. I know that my victory was made possible by the discipline and hard work of my teammates, the steady guidance of my coaches, the inspiration of the fans, and the unconditional love of my family and friends. And I know that any young man fortunate enough to win the Heisman enters into a family of sorts. Each individual carries the legacy of the award and each one is entrusted with its good name.”

So why has the the award fallen into such slimy hands in years past? Johnny Manziel played the opposite way to how Bush describes a Heisman Trophy winner should carry himself, mocking opponents and partying all week.

A good Heisman winner carries himself the way LSU’s Joe Burrow or Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa plays. They take the field, make plays, then quietly jog to their bench and play a leadership role on the sideline. With news of Tagovailoa’s season-ending injury, I felt this article was important to write. Tua very easily could have won the Heisman this year, but would it really even mean anything to him and his program without a title? Tagovailoa will, barring some sort of miracle, very likely not win the Heisman this year. But the Heisman should be done away with entirely. In recent years we have seen Manziel, Baker Mayfield and Tim Tebow win the award, and all of them have miserably failed in their football careers.

If we want an award that can exemplify the best football player in the NCAA, assuming the Heisman lives on — which it likely will — we should not give voting rights to members of the media; rather we should give it to the old guys who have paved the way for the game in years past, the men that played in the trenches and got their work off the field done with diligence.

When members of the media are granted the right to choose the victor of this award, nine times out of 10 they will choose the most polarizing figure they can find. A figure that history has proven is not the right choice for the award. Perhaps maybe then the Heisman Trophy will be redeemed to its former glory and prestige. 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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