THE GRUDGE REPORT: Rankings and (TV) Ratings Will Determine Heisman Winner
So you want to know who is going to win the 2019 Heisman Trophy?
Well, we can't tell you--yet.
But we can tell you a few things to help narrow the field considerably.
Let's state the obvious.
It's going to be a quarterback. If we stick with the Millennial era of the last 20 years, QB's have walked off with the Trophy, signifying college football's "best'' player in 17 of the 19 years.
The only non-QB winners of late are Alabama running backs Derrick Henry (2015) and Mark Ingram (2009) and Reggie Bush (USC, 2005) if you want to ignore the asterisk.
That's the obvious.
What is less clear is that the winner will be decided by what happens on national television in a series of prime time exposure games among the elite teams.
Here are a few more trends which narrow the field.
The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner will be on a Top 5 team.
Here's why we can say that.
In the past 10 seasons, the Heisman winner has played on a Top 5 team 8 times. Only quarterback Lamar Jackson, Louisville (No. 21) Baylor (No. 13) QB Robert Griffin were on Top 5 teams in the past 10 years.
Since 2000, only three players--Griffin, Jackson and Florida (No. 13) QB Tim Tebow--were Heisman winners on non Top 10 teams.
It also helps to be on national television during the prime November Heisman watching season.
The best example of that happened in 2002 when USC quarterback Carson Palmer came from out of the pack to win the Heisman with a pair of TV moments in the Trojans nationally televised games against UCLA and Notre Dame.
In those two games, Palmer threw 8 TD passes for 696 yards in the Trojans rout of the Bruins (52-21) and Irish (44-13).
So there you have it. Play QB, be on a Top 5 team and make sure you have nation wide television exposure in November.
Which brings us to this season. Using our guidelines we suggest that there are only five serious candidates remaining.
In alphabetical order they are:
- LSU (No. 2) QB Joe Burrow.
- Ohio State (No. 4) QB Justin Fields
- Oklahoma (No. 5) QB Jalen Hurts
- Clemson (No. 3) QB Trevor Lawrence
- Alabama (No. 1) QB Tua Tagovailoa
We let another few weeks of play unfold before we look seriously at the numbers.
For Burrow and Tua, the challenge is obvious. The No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide will have a national showdown against No. 2 LSU on Nov. 3 and against Auburn on Nov. 30. There is also the potential exposure of the SEC title game on Dec. 7, which should also be considered in Heisman voters decisions since the ballots must be electronically cast by the end of that weekend.
Why anyone votes for the Heisman in November remains a mystery and an argument for a different time.
Fields will have prime time exposure throughout November, highlighted by the Buckeyes game against Michigan on Nov. 30.
Hurts has what looks like a key game against Iowa State on Nov.9 and a potential Big 12 title game on Dec. 7.
Lawrence has the most ground to make up in terms of stats and Clemson's national exposure will be muted because of the lack of serious competition in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season.
Lawrence, the preseason favorite in many polls, will have to promote Heisman type numbers on a weekly basis.
It's all coming in what has become a rankings sweep month for Heisman candidates.