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There is no Heisman jinx. Sure, Mark Ingram became only the sixth player since 1950 to win the Heisman Trophy and the national championship in the same season, and only the second of the past eight seasons to win both (Matt Leinart ’04). It’s called a jinx, but all it really is is a testament that Heisman voters consistently pick the wrong guy to win.

Heisman winners also historically fail at the NFL level. Why would that be, do you suppose? It’s not because of the pressure of being a Heisman winner, that’s for certain. Elite athletes thrive on pressure. The only rational reasoning for it is, again, that Heisman voters are inherently unqualified to decide who the most outstanding college football player is.

They mitigate these failures by pointing out that Heisman excellence doesn’t necessarily parlay into future success as a football player. They say that it represents only a snapshot of a single season in a player’s career. His college career. Tim Tebow is the poster boy for this line of thinking. Tebow is obviously a great college football player, one of the greatest of all time, and everyone predicts him to fail at the next level. But then they all predicted Eric Crouch to succeed, didn’t they? So what do they know. Fact is, we’ll have to give Tebow the opportunity for failure–or success–to decide if the formula Heisman voters claim they use is what they say it is.

For Heisman voters, nothing could be worse for them than if Tebow failed at the pro level. Their entire system would be debunked.

Whatever formula it is, it’s is so ridiculous and so blatantly political in nature that often the runner-up goes on to have a successful pro career. For instance, Marshall Faulk finished second behind Gino Torretta in 1992. Rashaan Salaam beat out Steve McNair in 1994. See the trend?

The Heisman is a popularity contest first, and second it’s an award designed to reward itself. Meaning, low-profile athletes at schools that are not “elite” programs are not going to win. Only thirdly is the Heisman Trophy awarded for skill or merit.

But as they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day.  And sometimes Heisman voters get it right. Like 2009, for instance.

Mark Ingram didn’t have the most yards or touchdowns, but was clearly the most outstanding player in college football in the ’09 season. And he proved it, too. After winning the award he went on to dominate in the BCS National Championship game, proving that he is both an elusive back as well as a bruising runner who simply could not be brought down by the first attempt.

Time will tell, certainly, whether or not Ingram will be successful in the long run, but for the moment it looks as if, finally, Heisman voters are trying to get it right.

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heisman trophy

Mark Ingram Alabama Crimson TideMark Ingram is no longer a Heisman hopeful. He’s the 75th winner of the most hallowed individual trophy in all of sport. Now all there is left to do is to bring home the crystal trophy of the BCS national championship. Some people talk about the “Heisman Slump,” wondering if it’ll affect Mark’s play in the BCS championship game against the Longhorns, but it doesn’t really matter if it does. Trent Richardson guarantees it.

Joe Namath. Kenny Stabler. Cornelius Bennett. Bart Starr. Lee Roy Jordan. Don Hutson. John Hannah. Derrick Thomas. Ozzie Newsome. Shaun Alexander.

Is Mark Ingram, the 19-year old from Flint, Michigan, the greatest football player in the history of Alabama football? Is he even the greatest running back? Well, possibly, but with a tradition as rich as ‘Bama’s it’ll take a bit more time to tell. Regardless, one thing is for certain: he was the most outstanding player in college football in 2009. It is amazing that Alabama, with 12 national championships to their credit and 96 first-team All-Americans, the team that dominated the decade of the 70s, has no Heisman winner in their history before 2009. Now let’s add that thirteenth championship ring and this might be the best year ever.

Now I’ve got to make the trip back down to T-Town so I can visit the Bryant Museum again. I want to see it for myself. Maybe touch it. It’s comforting just to know it’ll soon be there, a mere fifty miles away.

Well done, Mark.

Roll Tide Rollelephant_crimson_bama_logo

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