Myths and Mysteries: The Heisman Trophy

The Heisman Trophy certainly invites a lot of criticism. Today, a guest columnist offers a pointed takedown of the award and its level of credibility.


A week ago at Awful Announcing, I invited you to follow 10 unsung #CollegeSportsTwitter stars. Flowing from that invitation, I gave the floor to those tweeps in a series of guest columns titled Myths and Mysteries. Jeff, one of the 10 tweeps I selected, launched our series last Wednesday.

Josh Webb — whom you can follow here for USC commentary and here for Fresno State analysis — is our guest columnist today.

Josh is the host of the CFB Huddle Podcast, and on Monday, he broke an important story in college football:

Here, though, Josh puts aside his news reporter hat and dons his columnist’s hat. I asked him to write about the biggest myth in college sports.

Here is Josh’s answer:


For me, the biggest myth in collegiate sports is the Heisman.

Year after year, we talk about the Heisman as if it’s an important award — and I suppose that it is, if we are being fair — but we never place importance upon the award. By that I mean that we don’t focus enough on what the award is supposed to mean. We don’t even hold the Heisman Trust accountable to its own standards.

Never mind the fact that the award, claiming to be about the kids, features a Nissan slogan in its mission statement. In their “pursuit of excellence,” these athletes are supposed to exhibit great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. Their own Trust says that it focuses on the disadvantaged or afflicted in this award, and that it fosters a sense of community responsibility. Let’s play that out, shall we?

So, you’re telling me that, since 1990, not a single person outside of the Power Five conferences has shown great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work? The Heisman Trust claims to care for those with a disadvantage, but it won’t even give its award to someone not at a major school?

When Colorado (1994) and Wisconsin (1999) are the closest the Heisman Trust has come to giving the award to a non-traditional powerhouse over the past 25 years, it’s pretty clear that this is:

A) not about the kids in the slightest;


B) not at all in line with what Heisman Trust leaders profess to care about as members of a foundation.

Again, they have Nissan’s slogan in their mission statement. They literally let a company sponsor their mission statement.

Awards used to be available to everyone; now the powers-that-be have politicked the little sisters of the poor completely out of them, despite the fact that some of the sport’s greatest athletes have played at a mid-major. The biggest snub I can honestly think of is Kellen Moore. He didn’t lose a game in 2009, had 39 touchdowns, and only three interceptions, but the award was a two-man show with Alabama’s Mark Ingram and Stanford’s Toby Gerhart. (Moore wasn’t even invited to New York as a finalist.) It’s fine if you want to make the argument that he may not have deserved it that year, but that excuse was used every season Moore played at Boise State.

How does a college quarterback as accomplished as Moore not win an award that is supposed to embody a recognition of disadvantaged kids, and is supposed to celebrate players who show great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work? Moore finished his collegiate career with three total losses. Three. Three losses.

Let me say that again — Kellen Moore was a four-year starter with three losses. Yet, he wasn’t given strong consideration for the Heisman, openly contradicting the Heisman Trust’s mission statement.

About Matt Zemek

Matt Zemek is the managing editor of The Student Section, covering college football and basketball with associate editors Terry Johnson and Bart Doan. Mr. Zemek is the editor of Crossover Chronicles, covering the NBA. He is also Bloguin's lead tennis writer, covering the major tournaments. He contributes to other Bloguin sites, such as The AP Party.