In hindsight, maybe the wrong guys won the Heisman
Ah, the Heisman Trophy. Is there anything less scientific than the voting process for this award? Nearly a thousand voters, some of them far removed from covering or even watching college football, are asked to pick "The Most Outstanding Player in the United States." So is it any surprise that poseurs often are propped up while deserving players overlooked? Here is a look at some of the most recent oversights in Heisman memory, as compiled by CNNSI.com's Jacob Luft:
Winner: Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska
Eric Crouch Elsa/Allsport
Why he won: The Play. Leading No. 2 Oklahoma 13-10 in the fourth quarter, Eric Crouch sneaked out of the backfield to catch a 63-yard touchdown. It was the type of magic moment that wins Heismans. Overall, though, Crouch threw for more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (seven), numbers that didn't complement his rushing totals (1,115 yards, 18 TDs) very well.
Some say the right to vote includes the right NOT to vote. More than 30 percent of the voters failed to turn in their ballots, giving Crouch the smallest winning total (770 points) since 1962. Crouch won two regions, as did runner-up Rex Grossman from Florida.
Probably should have gone to ... Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon. He led four game-winning, fourth-quarter drives for the Pac-10 winning Ducks. Unfortunately, most voters were asleep in those wee hours when he was pulling off his heroics, explaining why the only region he won was the Far West despite throwing for 2,415 yards, 23 TDs and only five picks. If the spectacular Antwaan Randle El had not started the season at wide receiver and been able to lead the Hoosiers to a bowl game, he probably would have deserved it.
Winner: Chris Weinke, QB, Florida State
Chris Weinke Eliot J. Schechter/Allsport
Why he won: The numbers were too hard to ignore: 4,167 yards, 33 TDs, 11 interceptions and a career winning percentage of .941 (32-2). Playing for the high-profile Seminoles and being an oh-so-mature 28 years old didn't hurt, either.
Voting breakdown: The 28-year-old Weinke was either first or second on every ballot, winning four of the six regions. Oklahoma's Josh Heupel was a close second, winning two regions and placing second in four.
Probably should have gone to ... LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, TCU. If voters weren't so obsessed with giving the award to a quarterback, they might have noticed the amazing season Tomlinson put together. The 5-foot-11, 217-pound senior was the nation's leading rusher with 2,158 yards -- the fourth-best single-season total in I-A history -- and scored 22 TDs, leading the Horned Frogs to a 10-1 season. He finished a distant fourth behind three quarterbacks.
Winner: Danny Wuerffel, QB, Florida
Danny Wuerffel Jonathan Daniel/Allsport
Why he won: Wuerffel put up huge numbers in Steve Spurrier's Fun 'n' Gun offense for four years, making this partly another lifetime achievement Heisman. The Gators went 11-1 and won the SEC as Wuerffel threw for 3,625 yards and an NCAA-best 39 touchdowns.
Voting breakdown: It went strictly along party lines, so to speak. Wuerffel took first place in the three eastern blocks -- Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and South -- while runner-up Troy Davis of Iowa State took first in the three western regions. Both took second in the other three regions, making it the closest vote (189 points) since 1989.
Probably should have gone to ... Jake Plummer, QB, Arizona State. Jake "The Snake" threw for 2,575 yards and 23 touchdowns and willed the Sun Devils to an undefeated regular season without nearly the same supporting cast as Wuerffel. Nearly the entire Florida offense went on to play in the NFL, while Plummer led a mostly anonymous (remember Terry Battle?) ASU offense.
Winner: Gino Torretta, QB, Miami
Gino Torretta Gene Sweeney/Allsport
Why he won: By default. None of the candidates staked much of a claim, leaving voters to reward Torretta for
a career record of 26-1 as the Hurricanes' starting quarterback. His numbers were modest (3,060 yards, 19 TDs, 7 INTs, 19th-rated passer in NCAA) and the team's biggest wins -- Arizona (8-7), Florida State (19-16), Penn State (17-14) and Syracuse (16-10) -- were delivered by a ferocious defense.
Voting breakdown: Runner-up Marshall Faulk from San Diego State won only one region, the Far West. Torretta claimed four regions and finished second in the other two.
Probably should have gone to ... Garrison Hearst, RB, Georgia. Many people argue for Faulk, who missed two crucial late-season games to injury, but Hearst gained 1,547 yards and set an SEC record with 21 touchdowns against a much tougher schedule. Also deserving: Notre Dame's Reggie Brooks ran for 1,343 yards and 13 touchdowns against a stout Irish schedule.