Sunday, October 09, 2005

Heisman Watch? Watch Me Fall Asleep

(the following column can also be viewed at RetailDetroit.com, where a new column from yours truly appears each Sunday or Monday. They will also appear here for your reading pleasure. For archives of my columns there, go to www.RetailDetroit.com and click on "Columnists")

I am about to share with you something that, to certain folks, should qualify me for possible extradition from this country. I am about to reveal an opinion that some would consider only slightly less sacrilege than if I lit a Bible on fire while mooning a nun.

Ready? Here it is: I don’t care who wins the Heisman Trophy. In fact, I couldn’t care less if they never gave the thing out ever again.

There -- I said it. Lock me in a padded cell and throw away the key. Make me watch replays of the 2003 Tigers. Revoke my bathroom reading privileges for a month.

I don’t care; you can do all of that to me, and then some, but I am telling you, I will never care who wins the Heisman Trophy -- college football’s crown jewel for individual achievement . And I certainly don’t give a flying football in early October who might sorta, kinda be the possible front-runner -- merely speculating, of course.

To be fair, I should also reveal that I’m more of a pro guy when it comes to all the four majors -- football, hockey, baseball, basketball -- instead of a college man. In fact, I’d rather listen to an endless loop of Lionel Ritchie songs for 16 hours while having my toenails plucked out instead of watching one inning of college baseball -- which, for as long as they keep using aluminum bats is why it is surely the most hideous of all college attempts at the professional version.

So since I’m not all that ga-ga over college athletics -- by the time I figure out who the players are and what teams they play for, they graduate or get arrested -- it probably isn’t all that shocking to know that I treat the Heisman Trophy with the same enthusiasm reserved for, say, watching cobwebs form. And I know why that is, by the way. After some brief self psychoanalysis, I hit on it: there have been so many Heisman winners who’ve flopped in the NFL -- heck, even the CFL -- that I believe it merely exploits the vast difference in quality of the college ranks versus the pro game. And I have no patience for that.

Think about it. How many Heisman winners have truly taken the NFL -- or CFL -- by storm? Oh, there have been some, no question. But only some. Mostly the hotshots who win the Heisman end up having pro resumes as long and as impressive as Dennis Rodman’s career as an actor -- or his career as a bride. For every Billy Sims, there are triple the amount -- at least -- of Andre Wares, to keep the examples local. So how can a college player perform so wondrously while on campus, yet fail so miserably as a professional? Simple: the pros are a much different animal, baby. That’s where they play REAL football, son. And the NFL guys would be glad to show you where you can place your Heisman statue -- over and over again. And they have -- over and over again.

But what really gets me about this Heisman thing is something called the Heisman Watch. It begins sometime around.....the minute the room is cleared after the most recent Heisman Trophy presentation, and doesn’t let up until they actually present the Heisman again. So there are maybe 11 or 12 minutes where we do not have to put up with the Heisman Watch. The Heisman Watch is simple, yet only slightly less annoying than that Stephen Urkel kid on "Family Matters."

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I don’t care who wins the thing the night before they hand it out, so why in the world would I care in the first week of October?
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Basically, the Heisman Watch means we are force-fed four or five players who supposedly have the goods to be considered the nation’s top player, and once their names have been established, every newspaper, radio and TV station, office geek, and Beano Cook will track their performances, so we can see how they compare. Forget that Tommy Smith plays games against teams like Bethune-Cookman while Joey Madison plays games against teams like Notre Dame, creating an apples-to-oranges comparison that you couldn’t top unless you literally compared apples to oranges. Forget that despite the trophy being for the "best college player", 95% of the candidates are offensive skilled players. Forget that schools launch aggressive marketing campaigns to media members and voters, complete with DVDs and media kits and probably dinner coupons or free Blockbuster rentals, all designed to sway votes for their school’s player, who we are all supposedly watching each week with baited breath, because the Heisman Watch says we should. Forget all that, because this is the Heisman Trophy, dammit, and whomever captures it shall conquer all -- until the NFL Draft in April.

Did you know that some Heisman winners never even get drafted? Or, if they are selected, it’s in a round like the seventh, when teams are just trying to fill out their lists. "Well, Fred, we need to pick a few more guys....how about that kid who won the Heisman? Maybe he’s a player." So perhaps it’s not the trophy itself with which I have an issue. Maybe it’s the fact that the winners, despite being winners, nonetheless have the odds stacked against them when it comes to being impact players in the NFL (or CFL). So now we’re back to "the college game can’t hold a candle to the pro game" thing. And the sooner all those college geeks accept this discrepancy, the better. Look, if you want to see the highest level of performance in any of the four major sports, look to the pros. End of story. If you are into the rah-rah, sis-boom-bah thing, then college is your game. That’s cool -- it’s all good. Just please acknowledge it.

Close to home, there apparently is some talk of MSU quarterback Drew Stanton being listed consistently on the Heisman Watch. Now I’m sure that if Stanton were to win, it would be a great thing for his school and the dailies here would stumble all over themselves covering it. Again, I’m cool with that. But now is too early for such talk. I don’t care who wins the thing the night before they hand it out, so why in the world would I care in the first week of October? There’s still more than half a season to be played. Do we have an "MVP Watch" in the NBA in December? In major league baseball in May? Besides, who are these faceless, nameless people who create the Heisman Watch list? If you ask me, the whole thing seems rather dictatorial and discretionary -- kind of like those phantoms who set the season’s fashion trends. "This fall, green is the thing. So go out and buy as much green as you can, and I’ll get back to you about what you should wear for winter."

Don't get me wrong. I would not have the college game’s cozy little Heisman presentation done away with, nor do I wish any ill will on those who actually watch a Heisman Watch. I don’t mind if you announce the winner and hoist him on your shoulders and immediately induct him into the College Football Hall of Fame. If that’s what floats your boat, go for it.

Just don’t expect me to care.

1 comment:

Mario Ceste said...

The Heisman Trophy is just like the National Championship, not an official recognition of achievement in college football. Until the NCAA realizes that the sport should be more about tradition than money will we actually start to care about the Heisman or the MNC.