A REAL TOSS-UP
Our expert sorts through a quarterback quintet to make his
The Heisman Trophy is given to "the outstanding college football
player" in the U.S. What if no player stands out above the rest?
The 67th presentation of America's most famous stiff-arm will
take place on Saturday night, and for the first time since 1985,
when Bo Jackson edged Chuck Long, the announcement will be
preceded by genuine suspense.
Quarterbacks Eric Crouch of Nebraska, Ken Dorsey of Miami, Rex
Grossman of Florida, Joey Harrington of Oregon and Antwaan
Randle El of Indiana are the top candidates. Last week it was
evident that the 921 voters were having trouble making their
choices. On Friday, a week before the deadline, the Downtown
Athletic Club had received only 90 ballots. Typically, half the
votes are in by then.
The standards for making a Heisman choice are malleable. Good
statistics help. So does being a winning team's most valuable
player. Having a signature moment that the networks can replay
until viewers cry out in anguish is important too. I would go
on, but my editors say I can't procrastinate any longer.
December 10, 2001
Grossman has the best stats: a 65.6% completion rate and 3,896
passing yards. He threw nearly three touchdown passes for every
interception (34 of the former to 12 of the latter), although
Harrington's ratio of nearly five to one (23 to 5) is better.
Four of Grossman's interceptions came in the Gators' 23-20 loss
at Auburn. Ouch! Crouch, whose forte is running, rushed for
1,115 yards and 18 touchdowns. His meager seven touchdown passes
and 10 interceptions are hard to stomach, though.
Grossman and Crouch have the best signature moments: Grossman's
desperation shovel pass to Kelvin Kight against Tennessee last
Saturday (page 46), and Crouch's 95-yard zigzag touchdown run
against Missouri. Dorsey's signature moment is throwing
out-of-bounds to avoid a sack. Being smart is admirable, but
without Dorsey, Miami would be almost the same team. Without
Harrington and the four fourth-quarter comebacks he led, Oregon
wouldn't be 10-1.
Finally there's Randle El, who rushed for 964 yards and eight
touchdowns and threw for 1,664 yards, nine touchdowns and five
interceptions. Some Big Ten coaches speak of him as if he were
football's Michael Jordan. Utah played Indiana and Oregon, and
both Utes coach Ron McBride and defensive coordinator Kyle
Whittingham think Randle El, not Harrington, is the best player
they saw this season.
Try as I might, though, it's hard to fall for a guy who made the
difference between Indiana's going 5-6 and, say, 1-10. I'll put
Randle El third on my ballot. In second place, as a winner and a
leader, I'll vote Harrington. That leaves Crouch, who played
well even in the Huskers' 62-36 loss to Colorado. He's my pick.
On the other hand.... --Ivan Maisel
NFL Resumes of Four Heisman Winners and Runners-up
1990 Winner: Ty Detmer, BYU Backup QB on five teams in 10
seasons. Runner-up: Raghib Ismail, Notre Dame Has become
serviceable NFL wideout.
1992 Winner: Gino Torretta, Miami 16 career pass attempts.
Runner-up: Marshall Faulk, San Diego State Five-time Pro Bowler;
2000 league MVP.
1995 Winner: Eddie George, Ohio State At least 1,200 rushing
yards in each of first five seasons. Runner-up: Tommie Frazier,
Nebraska Pro career thwarted because of blood clots in his legs.
1997 Winner: Charles Woodson, Michigan Has been to Pro Bowl in
all three NFL seasons. Runner-up: Peyton Manning, Tennessee
Two-time Pro Bowler is second quickest to 15,000 passing yards.
LUCK OF THE DRAW
America's quest for soccer respect at next June's World Cup will
begin against a team led by the man whom U.S. coach Bruce Arena
recently voted for as the 2001 world player of the year. On
Saturday in Busan, South Korea, the U.S. drew a frightening
opening game against Portugal and its superstar midfielder, Luis
Figo, followed by matches against South Korea, the tournament
cohost, and Poland. By winning the last two games, the U.S.
would in all probability reach its goal--the second round--by
finishing in the top half of its four-team group. "We have a
chance to advance," Arena says. "The draw gives us some optimism."
The Americans have a slightly more favorable draw than they had
for the 1998 World Cup, in which they lost all three games (to
Germany, Iran and Yugoslavia) and scored only one goal. Expect a
defeat by Portugal, perhaps the world's most explosive attacking
team, but the U.S. should match up well with South Korea (0-10-4
in five World Cups) and with the Poles, who won a mediocre
European qualifying group but are competing in their first World
Cup since '86.
In FIFA's notoriously screwy world rankings, the Americans are
tied for 20th, behind Portugal (4th) and ahead of Poland (33rd)
and South Korea (43rd). However, a host nation has never failed
to get through the opening round. For its part, British
oddsmaker Ladbrokes rates the U.S. last in its group, as a
151-to-1 long shot to win the Cup. "The American team has a very
high fighting level of spirit," says South Korea's Dutch coach,
Guus Hiddink, which is a nice way of saying he doesn't think the
U.S. has any skillful players.
That view is understandable considering how poorly the Americans
did in 1998. The current U.S. side is different, though, with
younger, cockier attackers such as Clint Mathis, Josh Wolff and
Landon Donovan; a veteran core led by midfielder Claudio Reyna;
better coaching; and a solid tune-up schedule that includes
games against Italy and Germany. It says here that barring
injuries, the U.S. will do no worse than beat South Korea and
tie Poland, which (with a favorable goal differential) should
qualify the Yanks for the elimination round. --Grant Wahl
Sport? Not a Sport?
THIS WEEK: LUMBERJACK COMPETITIONS
SPORT "They compete to see who can climb a tree the fastest, who
can cut one down the fastest. I don't know about the real job,
but the competitions are a sport." --Raiders punter Shane Lechler
SPORT "I don't know how to chop down a tree that damn fast. When
they're chopping out chunks and putting in steps and climbing,
that's hard as hell. And they're in some serious condition."
--Bulls center Brad Miller
NOT A SPORT "They've got to do that to make a living. They've
got to chop down wood." --Broncos linebacker John Mobley
NOT A SPORT "I just don't see it. I can't do it, but that
doesn't make it a sport." --Raiders tackle Lincoln Kennedy
SPORT "Anytime you have to train and there's technique involved
and you're competing against someone, that's a sport."
--Michigan State hockey coach Ron Mason
SPORT "I watch them climb that tree, their balance on the
logrolling--those are skills. If race car driving is a sport,
this certainly is." --76ers coach Larry Brown
SPORT "After I knocked out a dude from Kansas City, the
linebackers nicknamed me the Little Lumberjack. I've got that
mentality." --Jets cornerback Ray Mickens
Warrick Dunn's mother, Betty Smothers, was a police officer
raising six children alone in a crammed Baton Rouge apartment
when she was shot and killed during a 1993 supermarket holdup.
Her dream was to own a home one day.
Betty never got that chance, but since his rookie year of 1997,
Dunn, the Buccaneers' Pro Bowl running back, has been making
that dream come true for other single mothers in Baton Rouge and
Tampa. Dunn's program, Home for the Holidays, has provided 25
women with a $5,000 down payment on a house, which Dunn
furnishes and stocks to the last detail. He chooses the
beneficiaries of the program from a list drawn up by local
One of the recipients this year was Linda Williams, 43, a single
mother of two teenagers. Two days before Thanksgiving she became
the owner of a three-bedroom house in Baton Rouge. "I expected
it to be completely empty," says Williams, "but everything
inside was so new and so nice. There was furniture in the living
room, food in the refrigerator and towels in the bathroom. You
don't find many people who care enough to do something like
this. His mom would be so proud of what he's been doing around
"The program is about mothers, not me," says Dunn. "All they
need is a little help to push them over the hump. I only want to
get these families to the point where I wanted to be when I was
growing up." --Albert Chen
Bill-bashers vs. Ballybunion
Bill Clinton is still a divisive figure--at least in Ireland,
where a statue of the former president in the town of
Ballybunion is raising the hackles of U.S. golf tourists. The
seven-foot-tall bronze of Clinton teeing off commemorates his
1995 visit to the famed Ballybunion Golf Club, which made him an
honorary member. Placed on Main Street outside the police
station, the statue is still the only one in the world of
Clinton--and for some Americans that's one too many. "The
majority of golfers who come here from the U.S. are Republicans,
and they hate the sight of it," says Frank Quilter, a local
businessman who raised nearly $40,000 to erect the statue in
'98. "There have been nightly donnybrooks in the pubs over the
statue. It drives some Americans mad."
For the people of Ballybunion, however, the Clinton statue
serves as a symbol of Ireland-U.S. friendship. It has never been
vandalized, and after the Sept. 11 attacks the townsfolk laid
wreaths and flowers at its base. Jackie Hourigan, chairman of
the Ballybunion Development Company, says the decision to honor
Clinton was a natural one. "We had the most powerful man in the
world here, and the most talked about at the time. He's very,
very popular, especially for his work to get peace in Ireland."
Hourigan isn't about to get bogged down in U.S. partisan
politics, and he vows that the town won't bow to pressure from
those who take issue with the statue. "We tell them that if they
can get President Bush to come and golf here," says Hourigan,
"we'll put up a statue for him, too. And eight years hence, if
Hillary Clinton comes to power, we'll happily put up one for her
--The Astros' commitment to calling their stadium Enron Field.
Enron, an energy marketing and trading company that's paying
$3.3 million a year for the ballpark's naming rights, filed the
largest bankruptcy in history on Sunday. Team president Tal
Smith said, "Until there's no longer a company, it'll be called
--Goran Ivanisevic's compulsory six-month stint in the Croatian
army. While receiving artillery instruction, the 30-year-old
reigning Wimbledon champ will be permitted to train for and
compete in tennis tournaments. He told his countrymen, "Now that
I am in the army, you can all sleep peacefully."
--Down a warmup slope at Oregon's Mount Hood, 1984 Olympic
downhill champion Bill Johnson. Last Friday's runs came eight
months after Johnson, 41, was nearly killed in a horrific skiing
crash in Montana during a comeback try. "The snow looks great,"
said Johnson. "It's nice out here."
--Cincinnati basketball coach Bob Huggins, to Temple coach John
Chaney, for a Nov. 5 fax sent from the Bearcats' office to
coveted high school center Keith Butler. The note questioned how
long Chaney, 69, will continue at Temple and intimated that Owls
players haven't fared well in the NBA. Chaney called the note
"scathing, malicious and despicable." Butler signed with the Owls.
--By President Bush, a request from IOC president Jacques Rogge
to observe a cease-fire during the Olympics in February. The
truce tradition dates to the ancient Games, and the IOC has
attempted to revive the idea in recent years. Bush said he
supports a U.N. resolution calling for safe passage of Olympic
athletes to and from Salt Lake City.
Caught--by a Nose
A bizarre race-fixing scandal rocks California
While walking 3-year-old filly My Sweet Lucy early on Oct. 10,
trainer Frank Olivares noticed that she had a runny nose. He
assumed she'd caught a virus from one of the sick horses in his
barn at Santa Anita Park, near Los Angeles. "I thought it was a
cold," Olivares says. "No big deal." That runny nose turned out
to be a very big deal: It was one of four recent incidents of
so-called sponging and is evidence of an apparent failed attempt
to fix the second race on Oct. 10 at Santa Anita, a $40,000
claiming event for fillies.
Investigators believe that sometime in early October, two
people--perhaps workers at Santa Anita--entered My Sweet Lucy's
barn late at night and shoved a tennis-ball-sized sponge 10 to
12 inches into her left nasal passage. Because a horse breathes
only through its nose, the sponge restricts the flow of oxygen
and hinders racing ability. Someone also sponged the nostrils of
Spiderette, the 2-1 favorite in the Oct. 10 race, and of
stablemate Tonietta. After the latter was acting strange on Oct.
10, both horses were examined. Sponges were discovered, and the
horses were scratched from the day's card.
Those weren't the only October sponging incidents in Southern
California. On Oct. 8, a 3-year-old gelding named Yukon Charley
sneezed out a sponge during a workout at Hollywood Park. "The
people who did this know horses," says Yukon Charley's trainer,
Pico Perdomo, whose horse went off as the third choice on Oct. 4
and finished third. "People who work with horses are supposed to
love horses. I don't know who could do something so cruel."
The California Horse Racing Board intends to find out. Although
investigators wouldn't divulge their findings last week,
trainers speculated that those responsible got the idea from a
chapter in the recent bestseller Seabiscuit, which details a
failed attempt to sponge that famed horse (above) before a 1938
race at Santa Anita.
Security has been tightened at California's tracks: Most
trainers last week began to monitor their barns with
surveillance cameras and/or night watchmen. "They caught us by
surprise this time," says Perdomo, whose horse, along with the
others, is back racing, "but it will never happen again."
In case you were fooled, that's not really Woody Allen skating
with the effortless grace of Dick Button on the Rockefeller
Center rink in a new New York City tourism ad. The actual ice
capades were performed by 2001 U.S. junior national champion
Parker Pennington. "To get me to look like Woody, they put a wig
on me," says Pennington, 17, who's coached by 1960 Olympic champ
Carol Heiss-Jenkins. "I had to try on all these clothes and
glasses and wear a hat to make it look real." In postproduction
Allen's head was superimposed on Pennington's body, so viewers
see Woody's face during the routine. Pennington says the auteur
does have one quality shared by most skating champs: "He's the
right size." ...The folks who plaster parental warnings on video
games might be shocked to learn that in EA's NHL 2002, players
can stock their rosters with barenaked ladies. Actually it's the
Canadian pop quintet Barenaked Ladies. The band (above)
contributed three songs to the game's soundtrack, so EA's
programmers put the musicians in the game's player pool. Users
can choose their skill level, allowing drummer Tyler Stewart or
singer Steve Page to skate and shoot like Mats Sundin. "Seeing
myself as a member of the Maple Leafs is a boyhood fantasy,"
Stewart told the Canadian Press. "It was exciting to know I
could make it to the NHL--even if only on the digital level."
...Bernie Kosar can't get Cleveland football out of his system.
When the 20-year-old fanzine Browns News/Illustrated folded last
month, Kosar came in to fill the void. On Monday he launched the
magazine Bernie's Insiders, for which he'll serve as publisher
and write a column. "This is a result of something I had to come
to grips with recently: I love sports," says Kosar, who is also
part owner of the NHL's Panthers. "It beats the heck out of
Combined margin of victory in the five college football games
last Saturday involving Top 10 teams.
Career rebounding high of Charlotte forward P.J. Brown, which he
matched on Nov. 28 in a 104-96 win over the Pistons.
Detroit's rebounding total against Charlotte, the lowest in NBA
Football wins in the past two seasons by Duke, the fifth Division
I-A team to go winless in two straight seasons.
Colorado students arrested or given summonses during rioting in
Boulder following the Buffaloes' 39-37 Big 12 title game win over
Touchdowns scored this year by Cowboys linebacker Dexter Coakley,
tying him with three offensive players for the team lead.
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
Francisco Gallardo, a midfielder for Seville of Spain's top
soccer division, bit teammate Jose Antonio Reyes's genitals
during a goal celebration.
"There are nightly donnybrooks over the Clinton statue."
They Said It
Nineteen-year-old Bulls rookie, on why he has struggled from the
free throw line: "It's the balloons and all those things they're
waving. They didn't have that in high school."