Sunday, December 13, 2009

Heisman Not Important

Tonight Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy as the nations best college football player. In doing so he became the first player from the University of Alabama to win the award and also joined a list of truly great college players. Emphasis on the word college.

What is the ultimate goal of 99% of college football players? I would argue that it is to have a great career as a pro and go on to eventually end up in the Hall of Fame. Well if that is the ultimate goal than winning the Heisman doesn't matter.

Of the 74 different players who have won the Heisman trophy only 5 have made it to the Hall of Fame. Obviously some of the guys who won the award are still playing, have yet to play or are yet to become eligible for induction but the general pattern seems to be that winning the Heisman doesn't translate to success in the pros, especially lately.

Look at the winners of the award over the past decade: Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, Carson Palmer, Jason White, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and Troy Smith. Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford also won this decade but are still in college.

Weinke played for the Carolina Panthers and the San Fransisco 49ers and is now out of the NFL. Crouch never started a game in the NFL and went to NFL Europe and the CFL and is now out of professional football. Jason White was never even drafted in the NFL and today owns a shoe store. Leinart is the back up in Arizona and has 0 chance of winning the starting job while Troy Smith is the back up in Baltimore and doesn't look to have a chance at starting anytime soon.
Reggie Bush plays for the Saints but only sparingly and has yet to live up to the hype.

With the exception of Palmer all of these guys turned into huge busts or unproven stars and accomplished very little in the NFL. Is it because they won the Heisman award? Probably not but it very well could play a role.

Young players entering the NFL, especially Heisman winners, have a lot of expectations placed on them right away as coaches and fans expect them to produce immediately. This added pressure can be too much for some players and cause them to buckle under the increased exposure or take early failure to heart and never recover mentally.

If I were a conspiracy theorist I might saw there is a Heisman curse that dooms winners of the award to a career of mediocrity or failure. I however am a bit more level headed than that and will simply say that winning the award does nothing to help a player entering the NFL and if anything actually hinders them by adding additional pressures.

Is Mark Ingram going to be a good pro player? I have no idea. But history is not on his side as he has about a 14.8% chance of making the Hall of Fame which is something I am sure he aspires to do. Only time will tell if he can be an impact player or if a Heisman curse does exist and Ingram is simply the latest victim.

Random YouTube Video

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