The Heisman Trophy is many things to college football. To the player, it is the ultimate hardware (aside from a crystal ball, of course). To the fan, it allows chest beating over one's school of favorite player. To the voters, it is somewhat of a popularity contest at times, while others it tends to stick to what it is meant for, to award the best overall player in college football that year. While the award itself is supposed to be ignorant of the school you play for, it sure does help to be a member of a traditional powerhouse. While there have been many deserving winners in the trophy's past, it has had its fair share of snubs as well.
Players who by all accounts should have won the trophy, but didn't for one reason or another. In these cases, there are always going to be arguments for, and arguments against. Player X may have been stats, while player Y may have won the National Title. Hell, Player Z basically did it all himself! In this post, we will take a look at what I consider to be one of the biggest Heisman snubs in the history of Miami, and possibly Florida as well, the 2001 Heisman Trophy.
Creating an argument for the 2001 Heisman is about as difficult as trying to keep Nevin Shapiro out of your night club. The top three finalists each deserved it in some way, and while looking at the stat lines tells one story, you also have to consider the results of the schedules that year (this is where the human element of the award comes in). The award at it's heart is supposed to be based mainly on stats, since it is supposed to highlight the best college player. It never seems to stop there though, since the voters will always have some sort of bias or opinion about who should win and why. I'm going to be taking a look at the full picture for each of the three finalists from a standpoint of their individual stats, final record, and bowl appearance. I won't lie to you and tell you that there won't be any bias in this post at all, because each of the three players outlined are all tied together in some way. One played for Miami and is a legend around Coral Gables, the other played for a long time rival, and the last wont the trophy, but lost to the Miami legend in the national championship game.
Rex Grossman, Eric Crouch, and Ken Dorsey. At first glance, you wouldn't mind having any of the three on your college team. They were all amazing players, piling up stats year after year, leading their respective teams to success. However, head to head, in a snapshot of the 2001 season, the waters get a bit murky. First, let's take a look at the stats.
|1||Eric Crouch||Nebraska||SR||QB||162||98||88||770||105 Cmp, 189 Att, 1510 Yds, 7 TD, 10 Int|
|2||Rex Grossman||Florida||SO||QB||137||105||87||708||259 Cmp, 395 Att, 3896 Yds, 34 TD, 12 Int|
|3||Ken Dorsey||Miami (FL)||JR||QB||109||122||67||638||184 Cmp, 318 Att, 2652 Yds, 23 TD, 9 Int|
Looking at the above table, you notice a few things. The first might be that, at least stats wise, Grossman seems to be the best of the three. But wait, the second thing you notice is that it only lists Eric Crouch's passing totals (he was a QB, imagine that). He finished that season with 203 rushes for 1,115 yards and 18 TD's, basically playing as the team's second running back in an option offense. When you compare those stats with his numbers as an actual quarterback, you begin to wonder why he was even listed as a QB in the first place. The third thing that some may wonder, is why Dorsey finished third, with better quarterbacking stats, behind Crouch, who lost to Dorsey in the title game that year. This leads me into the year that each of these players and their teams had, and how that should affect the final voting.
First, let's look at Nebraska. They were a powerhouse in the Big 12 that year, dominating their opponents all season long up until the last regular season game and, of course, the national title. Their final record that year was 11-2, but they didn't win their division. By the numbers, they tied with Colorado for a share of the North division lead, but since it was Colorado that beat them in the final regular season game, the Buffs get the nod. In that game, Crouch was miserable, going 13/28 for 198 passing and 2 interceptions, while slightly redeeming himself on the ground with 18 rushes for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns. The main point is that he failed to lead the team to a win, and dropped in the rankings at the last minute because of it. If this sounds familiar, you only need look to last year to see the same thing happening with the LSU/Alabama/Oklahoma State debacle. The common thread is that if you are going to lose a game, don't do it at the last minute, and if you are going to, make sure that you dominated the rest of your season to make up for it. Nebraska was still chosen to play for the national title, however, which was not without its own controversy. They played, however, and somehow Crouch managed to have a worse game than he did against the Buffs (hint: Miami's defense). He finished the title game a paltry 5 of 15 passing for 62 yards with an interception, and 114 yards on 22 rushes with a lost fumble. It was a tough way to end his stellar career, for sure, and I personally think the last two games he played in should have factored into the trophy voting.
Next, let's look at Nebraska's opponent in that title game. The 2001 Hurricanes are widely thought to be one of if not the best college football team in history. The roster was filled with future NFL players, some positions were 2 or 3 deep. They were led on offense by Ken Dorsey, a stable of running backs, and Andre Johnson. As you know from the above table, Dorsey's season stats were damn good, and that translated into an 11-0 record coming out of the Big East, and a demolishing of Nebraska in the title game. His worst game came against Boston College, where he failed to record a touchdown, instead pulling a Jacory Harris before it was cool and throwing 4 interceptions. He still racked up 222 passing yards, allowing his team the opportunities needed to win the game and keep the undefeated season intact. When it got to the bowl game against the Huskers, Dorsey was incredible. He threw 35 times, connecting for 22 of them for 362 yards (yes, 300 yards more than Crouch) for 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. He picked apart the Husker defense like it was a video game, and his passing allowed the ground game to flourish as well. Nebraska was dominated, and if there is a better visual representation of this out there than this video I haven't found it (basically I will ALWAYS take an opportunity to use this video):
Jonathan Vilma CRUSHES Ben Zajicek on a Reverse in the '01 Rose Bowl (via LSU4LIFE44)
Finally, we look at the second place finisher, Sexy Rexy Grossman. Sure, he plays for a rival in the Florida Gators, but as much as I think Dorsey got snubbed, there is as much of a case for Grossman as any. His season stats were phenomenal, better than Dorsey's and far better than Crouch's. Grossman even had 5 rushing touchdowns to his name. Florida's season was great as well, although they did not play for the title game, and didn't really factor into it either. The age old "they played in the SEC" argument raises it's head when analyzing their season results from 2001, as they played 6 teams that were ranked. The issue is is that they lost a couple of games during the regular season, and the first was not to one of those ranked teams. They lost to an Auburn team that would finish 7-5 that year, and although they rebounded nicely from that, they again fell to Tennessee in the final game of their season. This earned them a berth in the Orange Bowl against number 6 Maryland, who they promptly destroyed. Grossman didn't even start that game because of a missed curfew. The starter is a name that for better or worse (mostly worse) Miami fans will recognize, Brock Berlin. Once Grossman did come into the game, however, he was almost infallible. He finished 20-28 for 248 yards and 4 touchdowns. While this wasn't the national title game, it was a BCS bowl and an absolutely stunning performance from Grossman, and why this didn't lend more merit to his Heisman tally I will never know.
The bottom line is that for whatever reason it seems like the Heisman voters are always wooed by quarterbacks who can do it all. If Crouch was more of a traditional pocket passer would Nebraska have been as successful? Perhaps not, but their true running back was a stud, so while they may not have run the option, they most likely would have been a force. On the other hand, what is Dorsey could run as well as throw? Could Miami have been even more of a dominating force? Sure, why not, but then again, how can you improve upon not losing a game and winning the national title? And Grossman, what if he could run? Might it have been Miami versus Florida in the title game? Could be, but we will never know. When it comes down to it, Heisman voters are human, and when you get past the stats you run into things like playing favorites, or conference bias, or personal opinions. When you look at the stats, Grossman wins. When you look as season results, Dorsey wins. When you look at over-all player ability, Crouch wins, even with his so-so passing ability.
It was a tough year for Heisman voters, there's no doubt. In my opinion, Dorsey had the stats, the on-field results, the consistency, and ultimately the crystal hardware that should have propelled him to hoisting the Heisman trophy at the podium. If not Dorsey, then Grossman should have won it. His stats blew the other two guys out of the water, and he finished his season on a winning note. Crouch won the trophy, but shouldn't have. His passing was mostly iffy, the most he threw in a game that year was 24 times against Kansas, and he only completed 14 of those. His completion percentage was always high, but he was always 8 or 9 of 11 passing, so there's a grain of salt. On top of that, he finished that season by losing his last two games, including the national title, and he looked below average as a quarterback in both, and average as a running back against Colorado. This voting was a snub of two different players, and in my book, goes down as one of the biggest snubs in the trophy's history.
This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.
EA SPORTS NCAA Football 13 TV: "Son" (via EASPORTS)