Forde-Yard Dash: Heisman Trophy Voting Should Be Delayed This Season

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Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (where Deion Sanders still isn’t going to be a Division I head coach):

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FOURTH QUARTER: DELAY THE HEISMAN

For decades, football fans have lamented the fact that the Heisman Trophy is awarded before all games are played—including the most important games, in the College Football Playoff and/or major bowl games. This year, that shortfall could potentially be amplified—what if it’s awarded before some players even get a chance to compete?

Let’s not do that.

The annual December voting should, like virtually everything else in American sports, be delayed. Let the Big Ten, Pac-12, Mountain West and Mid-American Conference see if they can have a winter or spring season and be considered for the award. (Heck, delay voting on all the individual awards.) If those seasons don’t happen, there is no harm done by waiting. If they do happen, and someone like Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (31) is as good as expected, give him a chance to win the thing.

An athletic director who was pushing for a spring season told The Dash this summer: “There is nothing written in the Good Book that says football can only be played in the fall.” Nor is it written anywhere that the Heisman Trophy can only be awarded in December. Let the 2020–21 season play out.

If tasked with listing a preseason Heisman ballot based on players who will compete this fall, this would be it:

heisman-trophy-should-be-delayed

Trevor Lawrence (32), Clemson. You may have heard of him. Lawrence is 29–1 as a college player, but that one loss stung—it was in the national championship game last January, and he played the worst game of his Clemson career. Here’s betting on a strong bounce-back. Lawrence is the top fall Power 5 quarterback in terms of 2019 pass efficiency (166.75) and yards per attempt (9.0).

Chuba Hubbard (33), Oklahoma State. Hubbard drew a lot of attention this summer by publicly calling out his coach, Mike Gundy, for being (at best) grossly insensitive to his Black players. But he’s done a lot on the field, too. Hubbard was the leading rusher in the nation in 2019, racking up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. This has the makings of a loaded Cowboys team, and a big season could propel Hubbard into the Heisman vanguard.

Chazz Surratt (34), North Carolina. This is your wild-card entry. Upon arrival in Chapel Hill, Mack Brown moved Surratt from quarterback to linebacker and unleashed a monster. In his first college season at the position, Surratt racked up 115 total tackles, 15.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. If the Tar Heels are good (they should be) and Surratt has another super-productive season, he could be an unconventional candidate. If UNC finds a way to plug him back in on offense periodically, so much the better. (Sophomore quarterback teammate Sam Howell could also get some Heisman love with another big season.)

THE VOTE IS IN. IT WASN’T CLOSE

For the endlessly petulant Big Ten (35) fans who cannot accept the word “no,” the following update came via a statement from the league: The vote not to play this fall was 11–3. That is a decisive margin—not the 8–6 gossip that was erroneously and irresponsibly spread around the internet. That vote total also debunks the tinfoil hat conspiracy mongers who swore that commissioner Kevin Warren (36) hijacked the proceedings by himself without even holding a vote.

The three dissenting votes were cast by Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa, sources told SI. Those have been the whiniest locales since that Aug. 11 vote was taken, and two of them (Nebraska and Iowa) opportunistically fast-tracked decisions to eliminate sports and/or furlough workers shortly thereafter. All the better to shift blame toward the conference office.

This has been an embarrassing month for the Big Ten, from coaches setting brush fires to helicopter parents protesting to athletic directors dissembling to school presidents hiding from accountability while Warren was vilified. The conference office hasn’t shined, either, but the vitriol aimed at Warren has been so far out of proportion that it makes you wonder why.

Everyone involved needs to take the fall off, regroup, and come back better.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Arkansas (37) has fallen and cannot get up. The Razorbacks had better figure out how to get off the deck soon, because they’re staring at some SEC infamy.

The Hogs have lost 19 straight league games, longest run of futility since Vanderbilt lost 22 straight from 1995–98. They open against Georgia, then go on the road twice (at Mississippi State and at Auburn), which would seem to give them a solid shot at equaling that Vandy losing streak. After that comes a home game against Mississippi, the last SEC team Arkansas beat, back in 2017.

But the Hogs will have to really screw things up to get near the league’s longest losing streak. It was set by Sewanee (38), which undoubtedly will go down as the worst major-conference football program in the history of the sport.

The tiny school in Tennessee was a football pioneer in the South, earning renown in the late 1800s and early 1900s. But those days were long gone when Sewanee somehow became a charter member of the SEC in 1932. The Tigers played football in the league from 1933–40 … and never won a game. They went 0–37 before bowing out and finding their comfort level in what would become NCAA Division III.

Sewanee did at least have an entertaining fight song back in the day, which included this stanza: “Rip `em up! Tear `em up! Leave `em in the lurch. Down with the heathen. Up with the Church. Yea, Sewanee's Right!"

COACH WHO EARNED HIS COMP CAR THIS WEEK

Marquase Lovings (39), Austin Peay. Thrust into the interim head coach role in early July, Lovings took the Governors to play Central Arkansas in the first game of the 2020 season Saturday night in Montgomery, Ala. The day before, Lovings, the school president and the athletic director gave the team some civil rights history by leading a walk over the famous Edmund Pettis Bridge. Then, on the first play of Lovings’s head-coaching career, the Governors scored on a 75-yard run. He should have retired on the spot.

COACH WHO SHOULD RIDE THE BUS TO WORK

Also Lovings. Austin Peay called a premature timeout on the game-tying drive Saturday night, a clock stoppage that helped give Central Arkansas time to march for the winning touchdown.

POINT AFTER

When hungry and thirsty at elevation in Colorado, The Dash recommends a stop at Westbound & Down (40) in Idaho Springs, yet another stellar Colorado microbrewery. The fried chicken sandwich is outstanding, and it pairs well with both the Westbound IPA and the El Dorado Passenger Hazy IPA. Try them both, get the sandwich, maybe order some beer to go, and thank The Dash later.

MORE DASH: Here Goes...Something | 10 Intriguing Debuts | Pandemic Job Security