Just call it the Hypeman

Published 2:54 am Sunday, December 13, 2009

Well, another Heisman Trophy presentation has come and gone.

And, yet again, the player who walked out of the room holding the trophy is not the player who deserved to get it.

Alabama running back Mark Ingram was named the supposed best player in the country by those who vote for what has become a trophy built on hype rather than stats.

Email newsletter signup

You could put up a good argument that Ingram wasn’t even the best running back in the SEC, let alone the best player in the country regardless of position.

Mississippi State’s Anthony Dixon averaged 126.45 yards per game to Ingram’s 118.61 yards per game.

Ingram does have more total yards than Dixon, but only because he played in 13 games to Dixon’s 11.

A case could also be made that Ingram isn’t really that much better than his back up Trent Richardson.

The Alabama offense didn’t seem to lose much when Ingram went out of the game and Richardson came in.

In fact, the Tide didn’t even need Ingram in their biggest drive of the season.

Trailing by a point late in the fourth quarter, Alabama drove the field and scored a touchdown to beat Auburn in the final minute with Ingram sitting on the bench with an injury.

But even before he was injured, Ingram had just 34 yards in the game. Some Heisman performance that was.

What began as an award honoring the best college football player in the country has become two things: an award for the quarterback or running back playing for a team in the national championship game, and a byproduct of the ESPN hype machine.

Just look at the list of Heisman winners.

Starting in 1992, of the 18 Heisman winners, 14 of them played for a team that finished in the top five in the country, and 13 of them were either running backs or quarterbacks.

The only one that wasn’t was Michigan cornerback, receiver and punt returner Charles Woodson, who won in the biggest fraud of a vote in history over Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning.

The names of the Heisman winners are a who’s who of “who?”

Gino Torretta, Charlie Ward, Rashaan Salaam, Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, Jason White, Troy Smith and Matt Leinart.

All of those players were named the best player in college football and all of them either flamed out in the NFL or are currently riding the bench.

In fact, there have only been five Heisman winners ever to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the latest being Barry Sanders.

If the Heisman were truly an award for the best college football player in the country, many more Heisman winners would have found success in the NFL.

But we all know that’s not the case. You’re only allowed to win the Heisman if your team has either one or no losses, you’re a quarterback or a running back or your name is Tim Tebow.

All others need not apply. But fortunately there is a much better, and much more lucrative way to determine the best player in college football — the NFL draft.

And in a few months, the true best player in college football this past year, Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh, will hear his name called first in the draft.

And I’m sure the millions of dollars that come with being the No. 1 draft pick will overtake a silly little trophy any day of the week.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor for The Democrat. He can be reached at sports@natchezdemocrat.com.