The Heisman Trophy Charade

This weekend, another Heisman Trophy will be awarded, nominally for the "most outstanding college football player".  This is a joke.  The Heisman is in fact the award for "best college football player at an offensive skill position, preferably running back or quarterback, who plays for a nationally ranked program and has gotten plenty of TV exposure".

In the nearly 70 year history of the award, only 1 defensive player (Charles Woodson) ever won the award, and I think Woodson won only because he was a three-way player and scored a couple of dramatic special teams and receiving touchdowns in the last couple of games of the season.  In fact, of the nearly 350 finalists (the top five vote getters each year) only 20 have ever been defensive players.  In the ESPN highlight era (ie the last decade) no defensive player other than Woodson has cracked the top five in any year.  This belies the "best college football player" facade, since, last I checked, defense was about half the football game, and in many cases the more important half.  Heck, more Princeton and Yale players have won the Heisman (3) than defensive players (1).  And don't even ask about Offensive linemen or tight ends.  Even wide receiver is a bit iffy, with only two wins, so really you need to be a quarterback or a running back.


  1. Anthony Cerminaro:

    Why would you be surprised that Princeton and Yale have produced so many Heisman Trophy winners. After all:

    "Princeton leads all Division 1-A schools
    with 28 National Championships."

    Further, "Princeton University boasts one of the most storied football traditions in America. The Princeton Tigers played in the very first college football game in 1869 against the Rutgers Scarlet nights. From there, the Tigers went on to win a string of national titles into the 1920's giving the Tigers the most Division 1-A National Championships in the country.

    Upon the creation of the Ivy League in 1955, the Princeton Tigers began to show their dominance in league competition as well, winning eight titles to date. From stars like Dick Kazmaier, Cosmo Iacavazzi and Charlie Gogolak in the 50's and 60's to names like Keith Elias, Ross Tucker and Dennis Norman, the Princeton Tigers continue to produce only the highest quality of football players."

    For more information, consider visiting

  2. coyote:

    LOL Anthony - you don't have to convince me - I was Princeton '84. I bleed black and orange. I had the honor of sitting with Dick Kasmaier a bunch of years ago at a football game. Go Tigers.

    However, for most of the rest of the world less versed in Ivy League football, the Ivy League comparison tends to help make the point pretty well, I think

  3. bblanks:

    How many black heisman winner have there been?