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Elder statesman

Weinke edges Heupel, becomes oldest Heisman winner

Click here for more on this story
Posted: Saturday December 09, 2000 9:00 PM

  Chris Weinke 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke. AP

NEW YORK (SportsTicker) -- Round One goes to Chris Weinke.

Weinke, who has moved Florida State to within one victory of its second straight national title, overcame any prejudices about his age and tonight was named the winner of the 66th Heisman Trophy at the Downtown Athletic Club.

At 28, Weinke easily became the oldest Heisman Trophy winner. The previous oldest was Oklahoma running back Billy Sims, who was 23 when he was honored in 1978.

2000 Heisman Trophy voting
Rank  Player  School  Total 
1.  Chris Weinke  FSU  1,628 
2.  Josh Heupel  OU  1,552 
3.  Drew Brees  PU  619 
4.  LaDainian Tomlinson  TCU  566 
5.  Damien Anderson  NWU  101 
Click here for complete top 10 voting results.
 
 

In a close race, Weinke earned 369 first-place votes and 1,628 votes to edge fellow quarterback Josh Heupel of Oklahoma for the most coveted individual honor in college football.

Weinke finished 76 points ahead of Heupel -- the seventh closest vote in history and the narrowest margin since quarterback Andre Ware won by 70 points over running back Anthony Thompson in 1989. A total of 922 votes were cast, primarily by the media and former winners.

Click the image to launch the clip

Heisman winner Chris Weinke shares with CNNSI.com's Mark Morgan his reflections on winning the prize. Start
Closer Look
A vote free of controversy? Don't even think about it. LaDainian Tomlinson says his distant fourth-place finish shows there's no respect for TCU football, writes CNNSI.com's Albert Lin.  
 
 

"I don't think I've ever been this nervous before a game," Weinke said of the vote. "My heart was pounding."

Purdue quarterback Drew Brees was a distant third in the voting with 619 points. TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson was fourth with 566.

Florida State can claim at least a share of the national championship when it faces Heupel and top-ranked Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on January 3.

"This is a huge honor. But the individual award is not that important. Winning a national championship is what it's all about," said Weinke as he looked toward Heupel. "Josh, it's going to be a battle."

Weinke, who played baseball in the Toronto Blue Bays system before coming to the Seminoles. Those voters claim the quarterback has an unfair advantage playing against those up to 10 years his junior.

But in the end, Weinke's achievements were just too much to ignore. Weinke was 266-of-431 for a national-best 4,167 yards and 33 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. The Seminoles suffered their only loss to Miami, but it was no fault of Weinke, who threw for 496 yards and three scores that afternoon in the Orange Bowl.

Regional Vote Breakdown
Northeast
1, Chris Weinke, 305. 2, Josh Heupel 263. 3, LaDainian Tomlinson, 111. 4, Drew Brees, 94.
Mid-Atlantic
1, Chris Weinke, 308. 2, Josh Heupel 240. 3, LaDainian Tomlinson, 87. 4, Drew Brees, 83.
South
1, Chris Weinke, 310. 2, Josh Heupel 255. 3, LaDainian Tomlinson, 97. 4, Drew Brees, 84.
Southwest
1, Josh Heupel, 330. 2, Chris Weinke 231. 3, LaDainian Tomlinson, 129. 4, Drew Brees, 83.
Midwest
1, Chris Weinke, 246. 2, Josh Heupel 220. 3, Drew Brees, 171. 4, LaDainian Tomlinson, 55.
Far West
1, Josh Heupel, 244. 2, Chris Weinke 228. 3, Drew Brees, 104. 3, LaDainian Tomlinson, 87. 
 
 

"I heard that some voters were going to leave me off the ballot entirely because of my age," said Weinke, who overcame a serious neck injury suffered in 1998. "If you are going to leave me off the ballot because you don't think I'm one of the top three players, that's fine. It shouldn't be because of my age. But in the end, the voters were fair."

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said this week that it would have been a "travesty" if Weinke had not been selected because of his age.

"I'm very proud of him and wish I could have been there," Bowden said tonight from Tallahassee.

A native of Minnesota, Weinke became the second Seminole to win a Heisman Trophy, joining quarterback Charlie Ward, the 1993 recipient who currently plays basketball a few blocks north of the Downtown Athletic Club with the New York Knicks.

Weinke is the 23rd quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy and the fourth straight from the state of Florida, joining Danny Wuerffel of Florida, Ward and Gino Torretta of Miami.

Weinke received most of his votes from the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and South, picking up at least 300 votes in each region. Heupel received his strongest support in the Southwest, gaining 330 of the first-place votes compared to 231 for Heupel.

Tonight added to Weinke's stash of hardware. He won the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's best quarterback, on Thursday and previously was honored with the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented to the nation's top senior quarterback.

 
Closest Heisman Votes
1985 - 45, Bo Jackson, Auburn, over Chuck Long, Iowa, 1509-1464.
1961 - 53, Ernie Davis, Syracuse, over Bob Ferguson, Ohio State,
824-771.
1953 - 56, John Lattner, Notre Dame, over Paul Giel, Minnesota,
1850-1794-x.
1989 - 70, Andre Ware, Houston, over Anthony Thompson, Indiana,
1073-1003.
1956 - 72, Paul Hornung, Notre Dame, over John Majors,
Tennessee, 1066-994-y.
1964 - 74, John Huarte, Notre Dame, over Jerry Rhome, Tulsa,
1026-952.
2000 - 76, Chris Weinke, Florida St., over Josh Heupel,
Oklahoma, 1,628-1,552.

1978 - 77, Billy Sims, Oklahoma, over Chuck Fusina, Penn State,
827-750. 
 

The narrowest margin of victory was in 1985, when Bo Jackson of Auburn edged Chuck Long of Iowa by a mere 45 votes. Long, ironically, is now the quarterback coach of the Sooners.

"We didn't really talk about it much," Heupel said. "Chuck just told me to enjoy the experience. I would tell everyone in Oklahoma (who is disappointed) to just put a smile on their face and get ready for Miami."

Heupel, a 22-year-old senior from Aberdeen, South Dakota, completed 259-of-389 passes this season for 3,172 yards and 18 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He has thrown at least one TD pass in all 24 of his games for the Sooners, going over the 300-yard mark in 14 of them.

In leading Purdue to its first Rose Bowl appearance since January 1967, Brees, also a Heisman finalist in 1999, completed 286-of-473 attempts for 3,393 yards and 24 TDs, double his interception total.

"It was great to just be back here again," Brees said. "Not many people can say that."

Tomlinson led the nation in rushing for the second straight season with 2,158 yards and 22 touchdowns on 369 carries.

 
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