A not-so-surprising Heisman Trophy first in NFC Championship Game

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The NFL’s conference championship weekend is set with another bout between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the AFC and the top two teams in the NFC, Arizona and Carolina, going toe-to-toe for the NFC championship. While there will be plenty of attention given to yet another meeting between Manning and Brady, the NFC Championship Game is making some history with a college football twist. With Cam Newton of the Panthers and Carson Palmer of the Cardinals set to start in the NFC Championship Game, we will see the first NFL postseason meeting between two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks.

At first glance, that comes across as a surprising factoid to consume, but it should not come across as a major shock. Given the track record of Heisman Trophy winner sin the NFL, we already know the Heisman Trophy is far from a guarantee for sustained NFL success. This is especially true for quarterbacks, although the jury is still out on a number of the more recent Heisman-winning QBs (Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota offer some good promise, and who knows if there is still time to save Robert Griffin III, for example). Also keep in mind that for the majority of the history of the Heisman Trophy, running backs were the dominant position before the turn of the 21st century gave way to quarterbacks taking control of the award more often than not.

Take a look through Heisman history and look at the quarterbacks who have won the stiff-arm trophy over the years. Just two quarterbacks won the award in the 1960s, Navy’s Roger Staubach and Notre Dame’s John Huarte. Staubach went on to have a stellar career. Huarte? Not so much. Two quarterbacks won the Heisman in the 1970s, and once again the careers of Jim Plunkett of Stanford and Pat Sullivan of Auburn took drastically different paths. Of the three quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy in the 1980s (Doug Flutie, Andre Ware, Vinny Testaverde), only Miami’s Testaverde proved to have a sustained NFL career, which included a couple of solid runs here and there, but he almost never faced another Heisman-winning QB during his lengthy career.

The 1990s saw four quarterbacks win the Heisman Trophy. Ty Detmer was essentially a career backup. Gino Torretta‘s run in the NFL was brief. Danny Wuerffel did not fare too much better. And Charlie Ward went on to play in the NBA instead of the NFL. Ward may have been the best NFL QB out of that bunch had he focused on the NFL instead.

Even the quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy since 2000 have been farther from competing for an NFL conference championship more often than not. This weekend, 2002 Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer just won his first postseason game as a starting quarterback since blowing out Iowa in the 2003 Orange Bowl. 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke has an NFC Championship ring, but that came as a backup. 2001 winner Eric Crouch played four years in the NFL with three teams and ended his playing career in the short-lived UFL with the Omaha Nighthawks. 2003 winner Jason White was not even drafted and stepped away due to bad knees. 2004 winner Matt Leinart never lived up to his perceived potential in Arizona and moved on to Houston, Oakland and Buffalo before getting into TV. 2006 winner Troy Smith was a career back-up, for the most part, behind Steve McNair and Joe Flacco in Baltimore. Sam Bradford has been plagued by injuries and Robert Griffin III is looking to rejuvenate his career in a new situation in 2016. And I’m even going to spare you the talk about Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel.

One more piece of information to keep in mind was the AFC and NFC Championship Game structure was not utilized until 1970 when the NFL merged with the AFL. For an award that was first handed out in 1935, that cuts out a number of quarterbacks from even having the possibility to play in an NFL conference championship game (Davey O’BrienAngelo Bertelli, Lee Horvath, Johnny Lujack, Paul Hornung, Terry Baker).

So yes, it is surprising we have not seen a matchup of Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks in an NFL postseason game before, but it is not at all shocking given the history of the Heisman Trophy. And no, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady never won the Heisman Trophy either.

Suspended Mizzou starting S Kaleb Prewett has been dismissed

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Thanks to an off-field incident, Missouri’s defensive secondary will have a sizable on-field hole to fill.

In January, it was confirmed that Kaleb Prewett had been indefinitely suspended by Barry Odom for violating unspecified team rules. Six months later, the head coach confirmed at the SEC Media Days this week that the starting safety has been dismissed from his football program.

Just when the dismissal took place is unclear.

In February of 2016, and not long after he was arrested on an alcohol-related offense, it was confirmed that Prewett would be transferring from Kansas State; three months later, the starting defensive back for the Wildcats transferred to the Tigers. After sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Prewett began 2017 as Mizzou’s starting strongside linebacker before starting the last seven games at safety.

Prewett was fourth on the Tigers in tackles this past season with 60. He was also credited with four tackles for loss and two pass breakups.

Alabama LB Keith Holcombe giving up football for baseball

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After months of speculation, Alabama has officially lost a veteran linebacking and special teams presence. Probably.

Early last month, Nick Saban indicated it was unlikely that Keith Holcombe would return to the Alabama football team for a fourth season after playing three seasons for the Crimson Tide baseball team. In providing the latest update to the linebacker’s status moving forward, the head coach confirmed Wednesday that Holcombe had decided to forego playing football in order to focus solely on a career in baseball, although he did seem to leave the door at least slightly ajar for a future return to the gridiron.

“I think he would add a tremendous amount of experience, knowledge and diversity to our defense because he’s very smart if he decided to come back,” Saban said by way of al.com. “But that doesn’t seem to be the case right now.”

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2014, Holcombe played in 44 football games for the Tide the past three seasons. In addition to a team-high 11 special teams tackles during their run to the national championship, he was also credited with three pass breakups and two tackles for loss on defense in 2017.

On the baseball side, Holcombe started 87 of the 97 games he played, including 45 of 47 this past season as an outfielder. He was third on the team in hits with 51.

While he wasn’t drafted this past June, he was taken in the 37th round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Instead of signing with that baseball organization, he headed to Tuscaloosa on a football scholarship.

Jay Norvell stays in-house to fill hole on Nevada staff

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As it turns out, Jay Norvell didn’t have to look far to find an assistant to replace one who recently and abruptly bolted.

The Nevada football program announced Wednesday that Norvell has promoted Mike Chamoures to the position of safeties coach for the Wolf Pack. Chamoures spent the 2017 season, his first with the Mountain West Conference school, as a defensive quality control coach.

This will mark Chamoures’ first on-field job at the FBS level.

“Mike is an intelligent young coach who has earned the respect of many of our players with his experience and understanding of our defensive system,” Norvell said in a statement

“I’m very grateful to Coach Norvell and [defensive coordinator Jeff] Casteel for the opportunity and look forward to playing a bigger role in building the program,” Chamoures stated in his.

Chamoures will replace Courtney Viney, who left earlier this week for an off-field job at Oklahoma.

Ex-Baylor DC Phil Bennett calls legal firm interview a fraud, says Art Briles deserves to coach again

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Former Baylor head coach Phil Bennett says an interview he did for a law firm reviewing Baylor’s response to sexual assault scandal was a fraud because he was unable to go through the interview without an attorney by his side. In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bennett took issue with the review conducted by the Pepper Hamilton law firm.

“It was somewhere in January or February after our bowl game,” Bennett said of the interview he had with representatives from the law firm. “I told (staffers) it was a fraud set up from the get-go. I wanted to bring a lawyer in and to record it. I wanted protection. They would not talk to us if we did. They didn’t have a recording of it, either. That’s what bothered me. I was in there for 4 1/2 hours. They wrote notes. I wrote notes. They looked at mine. I looked at theirs. (The two investigators) were so out of touch with the structure of college football, it was comical.”

Bennett went on to explain when he realized there was no progress he was going to make in the interview.

“I said, ‘We are bringing these kids in and we take great pride in keeping them within the lines of university procedures. That’s our jobs. We are not getting the normal student.’ I wanted to be as real as I could with them. We are trying to teach these kids how to be in college and how to react in situations. She says, ‘Judicial Affairs should have known.’ As soon as she said that, I knew this was over.”

Despite the scale of the scandal at Baylor and the fallout that ensued, Bennett remains confident Baylor was really no different from any other college football program in the country.

“We had the same issues that everybody had,” Bennett claimed at one point in the video interview. “We tried to stay on top of things. Now, were we just a hammer? Probably not.”

Previous reports have detailed how members of the Baylor coaching staff worked around the typical Title IX procedures, which is what really brought the entire situation at Baylor to a boil.

Bennett also came to the defense of former Baylor head coach Art Briles, suggesting Briles was targetted because Baylor could not successfully fire Ken Starr as university president.

“Yes. I remember when this all started, my wife told me, ‘This is the sort of thing that gets you fired.’ I don’t know if this was true, but I was told by a member of the board that Art was never the objective. They were looking to fire Ken Starr. But Starr lawyered up. And the next on the pole was Briles.”

During the course of the interview, Bennett suggested Baylor was no different from other college football programs around the country

“Every night I say a prayer for him, that he will [coach again],” Bennett said of Briles. “I think without question he deserves to.”

Briles, of course, has struggled to land a coaching job since being fired by Baylor. A job in the CFL never took off after public outcry about his hiring, and he remains a bit of a pariah around college football as the dust still settles from the impact of the scandal in Waco.