Heisman Trophy ballots went out last week, just in time to honor the star of the most astonishing event of this college football season. No, not Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, who engineered the Sooners' 65-21 thrashing of Texas Tech on Saturday.
|Myron Rolle was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship Saturday, then his 'Noles beat the Terps. (Getty Images)|
Meanwhile, Rolle is the most outstanding college football player of the 2008 season, if you choose to define "outstanding college football player" as someone who is great on the field and even better in the classroom and somehow even better yet in life.
Rolle for Heisman is ridiculous, of course. He won't win. He won't finish in the top 10. He might not get a single vote.
So maybe it's me. It usually is, but there's always a reason. For me, for this story, that reason is Pat Haden. He won a Rhodes Scholarship in 1975 while also playing quarterback at a high level for Southern California, a dual accomplishment that had my dad talking about it for years. It took me decades to realize that Haden had done something that college football players simply don't do. I knew it was special -- Dad made that clear -- but I had no idea how special.
Now I do. More than 30 years later, only three college football players have won a Rhodes Scholarship. One of them, Stanford tight end Cory Booker in 1992, is now the mayor of Newark. The other was Ohio State receiver Mike Lanese in 1985, now the CEO of an advertising technology company.
And now, Rolle.
And Rolle did it at the best possible place. Follow my train of thought, such as it is, if you would. College football's most impressive student-athlete in nearly a quarter of a century comes from Florida State, where Deion Sanders once skipped an entire semester and where a much more recent academic scandal saw the school suspend more than 20 players before last season's Music City Bowl.
Rolle gives you hope for college football, because if this can happen at Florida State, it can happen anywhere. Rolle overcame that history, those FSU "role models," because that's what a Rhodes Scholar does. A Rhodes Scholarship is the most significant award given to an American college student, and it is not given lightly.
Make no mistake about it, Myron Rolle now has pressure he has never felt before. A Rhodes Scholarship isn't where his story ends, but where it begins. A Rhodes Scholarship isn't a reward -- it's a mandate. The Rhodes committee picked Rolle because they expect, demand, greatness from him. And they're not talking about making All-Pro in the NFL at safety, which he just might do some day.
Past Rhodes Scholars have become mayors (Booker), governors (Bobby Jindal), congressmen (Tom McMillen), senators (Bill Bradley), presidents (Bill Clinton) and Supreme Court justices (David Souter, Byron "Whizzer" White). They have received Bronze Stars for Valor in Vietnam (Pete Dawkins) and advanced astronomy to the point where telescopes have been named in their honor (Edwin Hubble). Sports isn't the point, although McMillen and Bradley were basketball stars, Dawkins won the Heisman and White once led the NFL in rushing.
|suitntie: I agree that this is what we hope our youth aspire to, but the Heisman is not meant to award the scholar part of college football. For you to imply that this outatanding acheivement has been overlooked just goes to show that you live in your own self important world.|
|Gregg Doyel: Until I came along, only the eggheads knew about this award. Congratulations, egghead. But now that I've opened the doors of Cool to this thing, the rest of society -- the hip among us -- can celebrate Myron Rolle along with geeks such as yourself, suitntie.|
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Now it is up to Rolle to do something, to be something, greater than you or I could possibly become. I say that with no animosity or jealousy. To whom much is given, much is expected -- and Rolle was given more brains and more class than me. It's not a shame. Not exactly a secret, either. In addition to graduating from FSU in 2½ years with a 3.75 GPA while undergoing pre-med studies -- did we mention he plays quite a bit of football, too? -- Rolle has found the time to tutor at-risk eighth-graders; conduct research on stem and cancer cells; serve on school and ACC leadership committees; and found Our Way to Healthy, a fifth-grade curriculum that attacks diabetes and obesity for a local charter school run by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
The Rhodes Scholarship is recognition of all that he has done, yes, but it is a command to do even more. And Rolle plans to do more. After his playing career ends, he intends to become a doctor and take his medical skills to developing countries, including his parents' homeland of the Bahamas.
Meanwhile, Heisman voters will choose the best college player from a quartet of quarterbacks whose statistics are fabulous but mostly indistinguishable: Bradford, Texas' Colt McCoy, Texas Tech's Graham Harrell and Florida's Tim Tebow.
So I have a better idea.
Give the Heisman Trophy to the Florida State safety who is an All-American candidate on the field and somehow even more impressive off it.