The Heisman race in May resembles the Democrats' race for the White House in any month.
Everybody's a candidate.
|Monday: The candidates|
|Tuesday: They wouldn't take it away, would they?|
|Thursday: The favorite|
|Friday: The challenger|
The difference being that someone will eventually win the Heisman. That's why there's no need to limit the field during Heisman Week. A four-part series begins today examining college football's Holy Grail.
It remains the most significant individual trophy handed out in sports. Its winners are worshipped and scrutinized for the rest of their lives.
Heisman curse? For the first time the trophy itself might be cursed if Reggie Bush is asked (forced?) to give it back.
This year's favorite? We won't reveal that until later in the week. Until then, here are the candidates' resumes.
Arizona State quarterbacks: One way or another, quarterbacks Rudy Carpenter and/or Sam Keller will throw for 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. They essentially did it (4,438 yards, 37 touchdowns combined) last year. The question is, will it be one guy or a combo job? Carpenter took over after Keller was injured, went 4-1 as a starter, and become the nation's most efficient passer. Pedigree: Coach Dirk Koetter has had seven quarterbacks at least sign professional contracts, six of them in the NFL, including Super Bowl loser Matt Hasselbeck.
Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville, Jr.: In this Year of the ACL, Louisville's chances hinge on the repair of Brohm's knee. They're marveling over BB's quick rehab but until he gets hit there again -- and beats Miami on Sept. 16 -- we're still skeptical. Why Darrell Griffith matters in this discussion: Wooden Award winners at Louisville outnumber Heisman winners 1-0.
|Brady Quinn looks to lead the Irish to a record-setting season. (Getty Images)|
Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas, Soph.: If Mack Brown is smart -- and we know he is because of that big ol' shiny ring -- he'll feed Charles this year. Bulletin: Charles' chances just improved after teammate Ramonce Taylor was arrested over the weekend for (allegedly) possessing five pounds of pot. Bet on the come:The Big 12 offensive freshman of the year shared time at tailback and still ran for 878 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame, Sr.: All those school records and The Mighty Quinn still has another year. By staying in school, the current Brady was no doubt thinking he could be the new Brady under Chaz Weis. Quick, name the last Notre Dame quarterback to win the Heisman: John Huarte, 1964. Can that be right?
Ted Ginn Jr., WR/KR, Ohio State, Jr.: His Heisman bid began in January's Fiesta Bowl. Ginn's 167 receiving yards against Notre Dame in the Fiesta were more than a quarter of his season total coming into the game. Reason why Ginn won't continue to be a track-star freak show: He's smarter. Ohio State has plenty to go around him. He's playing for an NFL contract.
Kenny Irons, RB, Auburn, Sr.: Auburn is the best team in the SEC (barely, in a tight race). The line is a monster. Irons comes up big in big games. He got 397 of his 1,293 rushing yards against the SEC championship combatants (LSU and Georgia). Karma dept.: The last Auburn player to win the Heisman was a tailback. Bo, something...
Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC, Jr.: Let's say everything else breaks down. There are no experienced tailbacks. John David Booty's back continues to bother him. Jarrett could still go for 1,500 yards and lead the Trojans to another Pac-10 title. While watching Leinart and Bush win Heismans, Jarrett: caught 29 career TD catches in his first two seasons. He is within three of the Pac-10 career record.
Chris Leak, Florida, QB, Sr.: Statistically, he's going to go down as one of the best ever at Florida and the SEC. But first he's got to keep Tim Tebow from taking the job. CBS SportsLine.com poll: Will Leak pick up the spread option better this year?
Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech, Jr.: The East Coast version of Jarrett. Do highlight reel catches translate to victories? Not enough. Not so far.
Brian Leonard, FB, Rutgers, Sr.: The perfect candidate. Plays near New York. Future first-round draft choice. Every mother's son. Leonard has rushed for only 2,352 yards in his career but his across-the-board abilities might get him a trip through the Lincoln Tunnel to the Heisman ceremony. Leonard cannot be tackled one-on-one: Really.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal, Jr.: Ran for almost 1,300 yards in only 10 games with Cal struggling at quarterback. Imagine what he'll do when he's healthy with a stable signal-caller. Forget USC: Lynch is the best candidate in the Pac-10.
Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas, Soph.: They're buzzing about this speedster in the SEC. After gaining 1,100 yards as a freshman, McFadden is ready to bust out. If the quarterback situation improves (hint: Mitch Mustain breaks out with D-Mac), the Hogs could be the feel-good story of the league. Big time: McFadden averaged 7.5 yards per rush against Alabama, Auburn and Georgia.
Michigan's situation: Because there is no discernible difference between Chad Henne and Michael Hart, they don't get their own paragraph. Are their best years behind them? Possibly. Steve Breaston is the offense's best player.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma, Jr.: He's over injury and offensive line problems. Look for AP to run for at least 1,500 as the Sooners get back in the national championship race. Credibility: If you have forgotten, Peterson finished second in Heisman voting as a 19-year old freshman.
Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State, Sr.: He's more than just the obligatory defensive candidate. Posluszny is part of what might be the best set of linebackers in school history. Why is he here? Torn right knee ligaments kept Posluszny out of the NFL.
Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina, Soph.: OK, a bit of a stretch here considering the Gamecocks offense will struggle again. But Spur Dog already squeezed blood out of a tomato with quarterback Blake Mitchell. The return of tailback Cory Byrd from suspension will allow Rice some more room on the perimeter. Thirteen touchdowns as a freshman? Yes.
Jeff Samardzija, WR, Notre Dame, Sr.: The best pitcher with a mullet in Notre Dame baseball history. Oh yeah, he plays football too. Why a Notre Dame coaching change made sense: Shark broke out against Washington (164 yards on Sept. 24) against the coach who wouldn't play him.
|Troy Smith has the makings to be this year's Vince Young. (Getty Images)|
Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State, Jr.: This year's Vince Young. Left his Heisman calling card: 408 yards in total offense against ND in the Fiesta Bowl. Why is he this year's VY? Because Smith figured out last year he has to make plays with his arm first.
Tyrell Sutton, RB, Northwestern, Soph.: Plays in a major media market in a major media conference. Anything approaching his freshman season (1,474 yards) will get him in the mix. Did you know? That was the eighth-best total ever for a freshman.
Drew Weatherford, QB, Florida State, Soph.: Broke FSU's horrible run of luck at quarterback. Now he has to improve on 18-18 touchdown/interception ratio. Who led the ACC in total offense? Hint: It wasn't anyone from Miami.
Patrick White, QB, West Virginia, Soph.: More of a candidate than Slaton because he's the quarterback. Duh. White is a 2,000-1,000 waiting to happen ... if he improves his accuracy. It might not matter because... White ran for almost 1,000 yards last year when everybody knew he was going to run.
Garrett Wolfe, RB, Northern Illinois, Sr.: Nation's leading returning rusher (1,588). If the Huskies make a BCS run, Wolfe will get an invitation to New York. What will he do there: Finish third.
Pre-emptive strike against whining fans: Sorry, Drew Stanton (Michigan State), Kenneth Darby (Alabama), Greg Olsen (Miami), Darius Walker (Notre Dame) and whatever LSU skill players happen to be healthy in the fall. You don't make the cut. Deal with it.
Dennis Dodd is the winner of the All-American Football Foundation's Fred Russell Outstanding Sportswriter Award.