On Saturday night, quarterback Cam Newton will become Auburn's first Heisman Trophy winner since Bo Jackson 25 years ago. He'll do so, however, in far more convincing fashion.
The week of the 1985 Heisman ceremony,
Fast forward to 2010, when Newton's coronation is a foregone conclusion. You'd be hard-pressed to find a reasonable football follower who doesn't consider Newton the most dominant player in the land this season, and arguably in many seasons. He's both the nation's pass-efficiency leader and the SEC's rushing leader. He's accounted for 49 touchdowns. Likely the only thing preventing Newton from breaking the record for most lopsided victory is the handful of voters opting to leave him off their ballots in protest over his and father Cecil's more dubious off-field distinctions.
With all due respect to LaMichael James, Andrew Luck and Kellen Moore, Newton blew away the Heisman field this year. The question is: How does his dominance compare to that of past Heisman winners? It's always hard to compare players from different eras and different positions. In general, quarterbacks' statistics keep trending up (wasn't it only three years ago when we thought no one would ever better Tim Tebow's Heisman numbers?), while running backs' numbers keep trending down (James led the country in rushing this year averaging 152.9 yards per game; 1994 winner Rashaan Salaam averaged 186.8).
The following is not an attempt to quantifiably prove the "best" Heisman winner or to suggest that Player A was "better" than Player B. NFL success or failure doesn't enter the equation, nor does production from other seasons. This is about measuring each winner's season-long performance, both in historical context and in comparison with his competitors for that year's trophy, to rank the most dominant Heisman seasons (Reggie Bush included) from Bo (1985) to Cam (2010).