Why I Like the Heisman Trophy

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won this year’s Heisman Trophy tonight. He’s the first-ever Freshman to win the award, and the first Aggie to win since John David Crow won his in 1957. I watched the last half-hour or so of the presentation on ESPN, and enjoyed it greatly.

Truth be told, I’m not a big college football fan, never have been. But being an all-purpose sports fan, I always like to know three things:

  1. Who’s #1 in the polls
  2. Who’s playing in the national championship game
  3. Who wins the Heisman (and by extension, who the finalists are)

Yet it’s #3 that’s almost been the most important to me. There’s a mystique about the Heisman that’s always captivated me. I like the exclusivity of the club, the pageantry of the presentation, and how the winner isn’t leaked beforehand on Twitter. It’s fun knowing that every former winner1 gets a vote, and that Charlie Ward won the award (in 1993) but then went on to have a successful career in the NBA. Likewise, it’s fascinating to me that only one defensive player has ever won (Charles Woodson, 1997), and that a lot of the winners of my lifetime went on to have pretty lackluster pro careers (e.g., Gino Torretta). And that more than a few didn’t pan out professionally just reinforces the notion to me that the Heisman, for all its prestige and pompousness, is still a collegiate award.

This year’s group of finalists were particularly interesting in that Manziel was a Freshman and Manti Te’o of Notre Dame is a linebacker. I was wondering all along whether the voters would give it to a Freshman or a defensive player. Being that Woodson won in ’97 there was precedence there, so my hunch was they’d give it to Te’o. But, obviously, they didn’t. So instead of history being made by only the second defensive player winning, hisory was made by the first Freshman to win. It was really cool; I wonder what Manziel will do next year. 

It’s why early December is the only time I really give a shit about college football.

  1. Everyone except for Reggie Bush, who relinquished his 2005 award.  ↩