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.

Now that Oregon has a Heisman winner, what power schools are still looking?

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The Oregon Ducks have risen as a football power over the last decade, and now the program has a Heisman Trophy winner to brag about. Quarterback Marcus Mariota brought an end to the Oregon Heisman drought. No longer in search of a Heisman Trophy to add to its football pedigree, Oregon now shifts its sights on winning its first national championship in the College Football Playoff.

The Heisman pursuit continues for 34 other programs from traditional power conferences. Some of the programs may be surprising at first glance. Among them, Tennessee, home to future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning came in second in the Heisman voting to Charles Woodson of Michigan in 1997.

Clemson, Georgia Tech, Michigan State and West Virginia are among the other notable programs without a Heisman Trophy.

Here is a list of schools from power conferences, listed by conference, still waiting for the first Heisman Trophy winner. Also included is a mention of the last Heisman Trophy winner from each power conference. The Big Ten has the longest Heisman drought going right now.

ACC: Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Last ACC Heisman Trophy winner: 2013, Florida State QB Jameis Winston

 

Big 12: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, West Virginia

Last Big 12 Heisman Trophy winner: 2011, Baylor QB Robert Griffin III

 

Big Ten: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue, Rutgers

Last Big Ten Heisman Trophy winner: 2006, Ohio State QB Troy Smith

 

Pac-12: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Utah, Washington, Washington State

Last Pac-12 Heisman Trophy winner: 2014, Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

 

SEC: Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

Last SEC Heisman Trophy winner: 2012, Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel

Former Wisconsin RB Montee Ball calls Heisman a “QB award”

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A quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy each of the last five years and 13 times dating back to 2000. The game of college football has evolved to see quarterbacks pile up stats and gather plenty of notoriety during the course of the season, so it may not be a surprise to see the Heisman Trophy slant in favor of high-profile quarterbacks winning the award with regularity.

On Saturday night, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota continued that trend by running away with the 2014 Heisman Trophy. Mariota pulled away from the nation’s best wide receiver, Alabama’s Amari Cooper, and the nation’s leading rusher, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. Gordon not winning the award did not seem to sit well with another former Badgers running back, another Heisman Trophy finalist.

Montee Ball, a 2011 Heisman finalist after rushing for 1,759 yards and 32 touchdowns, shared his reaction to his Wisconsin successor getting passed over for another quarterback.

Ball finished fourth in the 2011 Heisman Trophy voting. That year’s award went to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. Stanford’s Andrew Luck finished second, followed by Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

This was a strong year for running backs, but Mariota entered the year as a Heisman favorite and did nothing this season to detract from his Heisman track. Is the Heisman Trophy a quarterback award, or did the voters get it right this year?

Art Briles says it is time for Petty to become a household name

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Ask the most casual college football fan who Robert Griffin III was in 2010 and they could probably tell you all about him. The same does not appear to not be the case for Bryce Petty, who led Baylor to a Big 12 title while putting up huge numbers and looks to keep the momentum going forward in 2014. Baylor head coach Art Briles challenged folks to go to a Dairy Queen in Oregon and ask about Petty, and the results were none too flattering. That is part of the reason why Briles spent time at Big 12 media days this week pumping up his signal-caller ahead of the 2014 season by comparing Petty to the school’s only Heisman Trophy winner, RGIII.

“There’s a lot of similarities quite honestly,” Briles said on a radio interview with KESN-FM in Dallas on Tuesday. “Bryce probably has about as much name recognition nationally as what Robert had going in his senior season, and that’s kind of what it’s all about. Last year it was make a name, this year he’s got to keep his name. Both of those guys are very confident, very well structured for our offense from an intellectual and physical standpoint, and capable of leading us to victory every single time we step on the field.”

In other words, Briles says Petty has arrived, but now it is time to take that next step. If he does, he will gain more national respect as Baylor continues to thrive. It’s a win-win situation for Baylor and Petty.

Briles is probably accurate in suggesting Petty and Griffin enter this point of their respective careers on a level playing field. Griffin may have received more notoriety by breathing new life into the Baylor program, where Petty is continuing to contribute to Baylor’s success, but Petty is receiving recognition in the Big 12 and beyond.

Petty appeared alongside Briles and wide receiver Antwan Goodley on the college football preview cover of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, which is said to be a tremendous honor in the lone star state. Petty was also named the preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year by the media. Petty also is one of the headline name sin various award watch lists this offseason, such as the O’Brien Award and Maxwell Award.

Helmet sticker to The Dallas Morning News for transcribing the radio interview quotes.

Baylor to honor RGIII with statue of Heisman winner

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Nick Saban has one. So does Cam Newton. Sam Bradford has one as well as Tim Tebow. Hey, even John Harbaugh has one. Soon former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III will have one as well. We’re talking about statues, of course.

Baylor’s new football stadium is set to open this season, and fans will have a chance to snap a photo by one of the top attractions at McLane Stadium, a 9.5-foot bronze statue of RGIII, the school’s only Heisman Trophy winner in program history. The statue will be installed in the south end zone plaza of McLane Stadium, according to David Ubben of FOXSports.com.

The statue was designed by Tom White of Arizona. White is a native of Midland, Texas. Details about how the statue will look are being kept under lock and key for now, adding to the anticipation for the grand unveiling prior to Baylor’s home opener against SMU on Sunday, August 31.

“It’s gonna be awesome,” White said to FOXSports.com. “It’s a great tribute to him and all his wonderful accomplishments.”

We will just have to wait and see how the final product looks, but odds are White strayed as far away from Griffining as possible.