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WSJ: Why aren't more Heisman winners successful pros?

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by basso, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    I'm sure Deck will find this yet one more reason that Bush should be impeached. ;)

    [rquoter]Heisman Is No Key to NFL Glory
    Why do so few winners make it in the pros?

    BY ALLEN BARRA
    Thursday, December 6, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

    University of Florida sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow is the odds-on favorite to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy this Saturday as the nation's outstanding college football player. Since the colleges serve as a farm system for the National Football League and Mr. Tebow is the best player in college, he should be a cinch to make it in the pros, right?

    Not according to history. In the modern era of the NFL, only a handful of Heisman Trophy winners have enjoyed genuine success in the pro ranks. Consider the following:

    • In the past half-century, scarcely one in five Heisman winners has become a major pro-football star. Of the past 50, only four--O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, Marcus Allen and Barry Sanders--have gone on to be voted the NFL Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press.

    • Only seven of the past 50 Heisman Trophy winners--Roger Staubach, Mike Garrett, Jim Plunkett, Tony Dorsett, George Rogers, Marcus Allen and Desmond Howard--have been starters on Super Bowl-winning teams.

    • Three of the past seven Heisman winners--Chris Weinke (2000), Eric Crouch (2001) and Jason White (2003)--are no longer even playing with the NFL. Last year's winner, Troy Smith, who won by the widest margin of any player in Heisman history, is on the roster of the Baltimore Ravens this season but has not yet thrown a pass.

    • The last Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback to win a Super Bowl ring was Jim Plunkett in 1981, playing for the Oakland Raiders.

    Some feel the reason Heisman winners seldom make it in the pros is simple: The voters didn't pick the best player in the first place. For instance, Jim Brown, by consensus the greatest running back in NFL history, was a three-time league MVP but didn't win the Heisman in college. Neither did such all-time greats as Johnny Unitas, Fran Tarkenton, Walter Payton, Lawrence Taylor, John Elway, Joe Montana and Peyton Manning.

    Michael David Smith of Pro Football Prospectus thinks that the failure of most Heisman winners to make it in the pros can be attributed to some basic differences between the college and pro games. "In college football, there's so many different schemes, from the option to the run and shoot, that an incomplete football player can thrive in the right college system. The right college offense can hide a player's flaws, but in the NFL those flaws will be exposed."

    Bill Walsh, a college coach for Stanford University and the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, felt it was often a question of maturity. "Joe Montana won four Super Bowls for us," he told me in a 2003 interview, four years before his death, "but I don't know that he was really the best quarterback in the country coming out of college. I thought he had the potential to become the best."

    But many top college players, including some recent Heisman winners, don't have the luck to be drafted by teams that can give them a fair chance to develop. "Football," says Bob Boyles, author of "Fifty Years of College Football," "is the ultimate team-oriented game where a quarterback can't become a star passer without receivers streaking into the open and catching the ball while unsung linemen mount great pass protection."

    An example, says Mr. Boyles, is Matt Leinart, the University of Southern California's 2004 Heisman winner, who was considered a can't-miss prospect when he was drafted by Arizona. The difference in the talent level between the USC Trojans and the Arizona Cardinals must have come as a shock to Mr. Leinart. In college he was surrounded by All-American caliber linemen and playing the same backfield with such pro prospects as running backs LenDale White (now with the Tennessee Titans) and Reggie Bush (himself a Heisman winner, now with the New Orleans Saints). At Arizona, Mr. Leinart's supporting cast has been far less imposing; quarterbacking for the Cardinals, Mr. Boyles notes, Mr. Leinart "is sometimes hit more times in a single game than he was in an entire season at Southern Cal." (This season he has been on the injured reserve list since Oct. 10.)

    Reggie Bush is experiencing a similar fate with the New Orleans Saints. In 2005, at USC, Mr. Bush had what is regarded as one of the most remarkable seasons in college football history, averaging 8.9 yards per carry. So far in two years with the Saints he has averaged just 3.7. (After 12 games, the Saints are just 5-7.)

    Then there are some Heisman winners who perform well despite the teams they're drafted onto but don't get the recognition they deserve. Mr. Walsh noted that Tim Brown, the 1987 Trophy winner, "played 16 years for a Raiders team which only won a dozen games more than they lost. Yet he's second on the all-time list for receiving yards. If he'd have been lucky enough to be drafted by a team with great passers like Joe Montana and Steve Young, who's to say he couldn't have surpassed Jerry Rice [the all-time leader]?"

    For some students of the college game, though, the question of why Heisman winners don't have much success in the pros is beside the point. Let's give the final word to legendary college-football writer Dan Jenkins, who says: "The Heisman shouldn't have anything to do with the NFL. It should be awarded strictly on a guy's performance as a collegian. It's not like a player should have to justify his Heisman by becoming a pro star."

    Mr. Barra writes about sports for The Wall Street Journal. [/rquoter]
     
  2. geeimsobored

    geeimsobored Contributing Member

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    I'd impeach Reggie Bush. That dude blows.
     
  3. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    I've been wanting so much to do this. Thanks, basso! :cool:


    WRONG FORUM!!!




    Trim Bush!
     
  4. HayesStreet

    HayesStreet Member

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    I think it's primarily a race issue.

    There ya' go, Basso. :D
     
  5. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    If they had given it to Vince he would have broken the Heisman curse once and for all.
     
  6. weslinder

    weslinder Contributing Member

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    Ron Dayne does not approve this thread.
     
  7. rrj_gamz

    rrj_gamz Contributing Member

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    good topic, considering this weekends event...I remember when Charlie Ward won it and I always wondered why he choose basketball instead of Football, given he won the award...Look at Brady, Romo, and other players that are having success that weren't even apart of the discussion...
     
  8. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    Ward wasn't drafted.

    turns out college football and pro football are different games.
     
  9. A_3PO

    A_3PO Member

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    Charlie Ward is the ultimate extreme example of how different college and NFL quarterbacking is. Tommy Frazier (who didn't win the Heisman) isn't far behind. Chris Weinke comes to mind also.
     
  10. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    Money, Less chance of life ending or altering injury, plus you play longer, he was not going to be allowed to play QB, and in football . .. you don't get to follow your coach around and be guaranteed a contract. . hell you don't get guaranteed a contract period

    If my son is into sport
    from an Athlete's point of view
    Baseball > Basketball >>>>>> Football

    Rocket River
     
  11. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

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    1. Heismans are won by players on teams with winning records, rarely does a great athlete on a losing team win it.
    2. The winner usually has some pretty strong a SID hype, i.e. a big school from a big conference
    3. As stated, a Heisman winner can be peaking at age 21
    4. A Heisman winner can benefit greatly from a gimmick offense that only works against lower level competition. (see: Klingler and Ware)

    It's a major award, but it's a college award...decided by a comittitee.

    Still, I bet as many Heisman winners make it in pro football as #1 picks in the draft; so maybe it's just the nature of pro football.
     
  12. JeopardE

    JeopardE Contributing Member

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    I'm one of those few people who actually think Tim Tebow can be successful in the NFL, even though it's going to take him a couple of years to adjust to a pro-style offense. He has the prototype height and weight for an NFL quarterback, has a gun for an arm and is remarkably accurate with his passing (IIRC he averaged around 70% this season and was one of the top 3 in yards per attempt). He has the potential to be an even better version of Ben Roethlisberger ... and there's someone who has actually won a super bowl.
     
  13. Lil Pun

    Lil Pun Contributing Member

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    Ummm, how so?
     
  14. A_3PO

    A_3PO Member

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    I agree with you, but Tebow's gonna have to lay his machismo down and learn how to dive when he runs with the ball. He isn't elusive enough to be a good running QB in the NFL.
     
  15. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    Rookie of the year, suck it.
     
  16. ryan17wagner

    ryan17wagner Member

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    Andre Ware was a great pro fb player. He only needed FIVE games to prove his greatness and he retired will millions!
     
  17. Lil Pun

    Lil Pun Contributing Member

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    Eddie George did both of those.
     
  18. Grizzled

    Grizzled Member

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    I wonder if the author is aware that there are other brands of pro football than the NFL? As others have pointed out, the college game is different from the NFL game. Someone like Reggie Bush, who is more of an open field runner than a power runner, runs out of room in NFL. If you made the field wider, however, then players like Bush would have more room to do what they’re good at, and that’s why a number of Heisman Trophy winners and finalists have done very well in the CFL where the field is over 11 yards wider. Sometimes a college player’s skill set isn’t well suited to either league, however. Eric Crouch and Andre Ware are a couple of Heisman Trophy winners who didn’t fare well in either the NFL or the CFL.
     
  19. JeopardE

    JeopardE Contributing Member

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    That he will have to do, but then in a pro offense he's not going to be getting carries nearly as much as he does in the spread offense, so that might not be much of a concern anyway. He should be able to succeed where Vick and Young (so far) have failed because unlike those guys, he is not entirely dependent on his athleticism -- he's the type of guy that could just sit in the pocket all day if he wanted to and throw the ball all over the field (which was pretty much what he did for most of the Georgia game when he was playing with a hurt shoulder ... they should've won that game if their secondary didn't keep giving up huge plays). Give him a good offensive line and running back and mix in the threat of a few draw plays, and in goal line situations, increase your chances of success significantly by making him a dual running threat.... that's a stud pro QB right there.
     
  20. ryan17wagner

    ryan17wagner Member

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    No such thing as curses, but if there was, my boy Tony Dorsett broke that curse in 1977.

    1977:
    Heisman Trohy Winner
    Maxwell Award Winner
    Walter Camp Award Winner
    Univ. of Pitt National Champions

    1978:
    Rookie of the Year
    Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl XII Champions
     

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