Now for a definite minus. Only six juniors—Doc Blanchard in 1945, Doak Walker in 1948, Vic Janowicz in 1950, Roger Staubach in 1963, Griffin in 1974 and Sims in 1978—have won the trophy. No sophomore has ever won. Nor has a freshman. In fact, not one has ever been among the top 10 vote-getters. Despite having seen Walker sparkle, many voters still think a player must prove himself in more than one season. Bet on Walker to finish second.
•Hugh Green, Pittsburgh. The 6'2", 222-pound senior defensive end-linebacker is a two-time consensus All-America, certain to be a three-timer, and is easily the best defender on the nation's best defense. But when it comes to glory, defense always comes in second. After the season Pitt will retire Green's number, but how many people outside Pittsburgh know what that number is?
In four seasons Green has made 269 solo tackles and helped out on another 177. He has nailed quarterbacks 53 times—for a total of—374 yards. He's done it despite incessant double- and triple-teaming and an inordinate number of plays that go the other way. Largely because of Green, Pitt is 9-1 and ranked in the Top 10 for the third year in Green's four seasons.
He has an obvious zest for his job. "On defense, all we want to do is hit, get up and then hit harder the next time," he says. "Offense is more for the witty and brainy types. Me, if I don't crush somebody on a play, I'm disappointed." To alert voters to Green, Pitt sports information director Dean Billick recently mailed to writers and broadcasters across the land some 2,500 2' by 3' four-color posters of Green with capsule raves from the critics. But such Academy Award-type tactics may alienate more voters than they persuade. And no strictly defensive lineman has ever won a Heisman, although a pair of two-way players have—Yale End Larry Kelley in 1936 and Notre Dame End Leon Hart in 1949. Look for Green to finish third.
•Art Schlichter, Ohio State. The preseason Heisman favorite, Schlichter was fourth as a sophomore in last year's voting and this fall seemed to have a lock. Good team, good position, good looks. A passing cover boy. He started fast, as did the Buckeyes, but then came a televised encounter with UCLA the first weekend of October, a battle of unbeatens. UCLA won and Schlichter was shut out, 17-0. He was intercepted, sacked a half-dozen times and completed only five of 12 passes for 59 yards—his worst performance ever. He looked equally inept last week as Ohio State lost to Michigan 9-3, but it really didn't matter. He was already a loser.
•Mark Herrmann, Purdue. The 6'5", 194-pound senior quarterback's claim is his four-year record. As a freshman he passed for 2,453 yards, the next year he threw for 1,904 and last year it was 2,377. Herrmann has added another 2,923 yards this season, increasing his career total to 9,657 yards. He has broken the NCAA major college record of 7,818 yards set by Jack Thompson of Washington State in 1975-78. But Herrmann's 17 interceptions this season brought his career total to 75, which also broke an NCAA record. Like Schlichter, Herrmann was done in on TV. Purdue had two national appearances. In its first, against Notre Dame, Herrmann was sidelined with a sprained thumb. As it turned out, he was better off in that game than in the second. That came two weeks ago against Michigan, and Herrmann completed 21 of 34 passes, but for only 129 yards while being intercepted four times in a 26-0 Boilermaker defeat.
•Neil Lomax, Portland State. As far as voters are concerned, there may be no Neil Lomax, only some enterprising young sports information director who mails in stats each week that seem to read like this: 85 passes, 71 completions for 15 touchdowns and 984 yards. State wins it 176-3. But who has seen him in action? Also, many voters may not realize that although the Vikings are a Division I-AA team, its players are eligible for the Heisman. Consequently Lomax, who probably will be the No. 1 pro draft pick, has no more chance than did a blond quarterback from Louisiana Tech in 1969; name of Terry Bradshaw.
•Freeman McNeil and Ken Easley, UCLA. When a team is pushing two Heisman candidates, it's like the coach who says he has four equal quarterbacks; it means he has none. Despite injuries that have kept him out of two full games, McNeil has gained 100 yards or more in each of the seven games he has played this season—and has had 25 100-yard afternoons in a row. Easley is the best free safety in the country. Both looked good on television this season. But in this case one plus one equals zero. To make it tougher, USC Tailback Marcus Allen will draw some West Coast votes.
•Jim McMahon, Brigham Young. The junior quarterback has gargantuan passing stats, but this season so many quarterbacks are completing so many passes for so many yards and so many touchdowns, they tend to cancel each other. Scratch McMahon. Ditto Stanford's John Elway and Illinois' Dave Wilson.
Those are the leading contenders. And here's one more number of interest, especially for Carmine Ragucci of the DAC. It's 803. That's the area code for Columbia, S.C.