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If The Heisman Came After The Bowls ...
Texas QB Vince Young
Texas QB Vince Young
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 13, 2013


What if the Heisman Trophy was awarded after the bowls, not before? Here's what might have happened in the 2000 to 2009 races.

Post-Bowl Heisman Voting

The 2000s

By Pete Fiutak 

What If The Heisman Voting Was Done After The Bowls? 
- 2000 to 2012 | 1990 to 1999 | 1980 to 1989 | 1970 to 1979

Ranking the All-Time Winners

- The 25 Greatest Heisman Winners | No. 26 to 50 | No. 51 to 78

It has now become a college football tradition to award the Heisman Trophy, the premier individual prize in all of sports, in between the end of the regular season and the bowls. Unfortunately, the signature player of a given season often times isn't determined until after the bowl game, and as everyone knows, one huge performance on a national stage often means everything in the race.

In the 2007 battle, Arkansas star Darren McFadden went from also-ran to possible front-runner by blowing up against LSU when everyone was watching. Missouri's Chase Daniel was knocked out of the picture after struggling in the Big 12 Championship loss to Oklahoma. Yes, one big day on the national stage, or one dud, is often the difference between winning and being a footnote.

If the voting was done after the bowl games over the years, who would've won? USC RB Reggie Bush might have been a transcendent superstar in 2005, and he had a whale of a Rose Bowl, but Texas QB Vince Young would've won if the voting had been done after the national title game.

Sometimes the Heisman serves as a motivating factor in a bowl game for the opposing defense, so it's not always cut-and-dry that the winner would be clear after the bowls like it does now. Even so, going back to 1970, when the national title started being awarded after the bowls rather than after the regular season, here are the Heisman winners going back to 1970, and what would've likely happened if the big prize was awarded after the season was over.

2012 Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M
The Final Three Were ... 1) Manziel, 2) Manti Te'o, LB Notre Dame, 3) Collin Klein, QB Kansas State
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Manziel, 2) Te'o, 3) Klein

Manziel didn't exactly squeak out a close victory over Te'o - 2,029 points to 1,706 - but it would've been a massive landslide after the bowls. 321 first place votes went to Te'o, and while the stats weren't bad against Alabama making ten tackles, the horrible overall performance would've been costly. Manziel, who ran for 229 yards and two scores and threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns in the Cotton Bowl blowout over Oklahoma, would've at least taken away 150 first place votes, if not a lot more considering almost no one would've voted for Klein, who struggled with just 30 rushing yards and 151 passing through the air with two picks in the Fiesta loss to Kansas State. The problem is that there might not have been another option to bounce Klein out of the No. 3 spot.

Marqise Lee finished fourth in the voting, but USC tanked in the bowl loss to Georgia Tech, and while sixth-place finisher Jadeveon Clowney came up with the signature tackle of the bowl season in the win over Michigan, he only got 61 points the first time around while Klein got 894. Braxton Miller was fifth in the voting, but not playing in a bowl game would've hurt. No. 7 man Jordan Lynch didn't help himself in NIU's Orange Bowl loss to Florida State, and No. 8 vote getter Tavon Austin of West Virginia wouldn't have had a shot after the Pinstripe loss to Syracuse. Kenjon Barner of Oregon and Jarvis Jones of Georgia, ninth and tenth, respectively, were too far back in the pack.

2011 Robert Griffin III, QB Baylor
The Final Three Were ... 1) Griffin, 2) Andrew Luck, QB Stanford, 3) Trent Richardson, RB Alabama
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Robert Griffin III, QB Baylor
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Griffin, 2) Luck, 3) Richardson

RG3 won the Heisman because he was among the most exciting playmakers college football had ever seen, but he was merely above-average in the Alamo Bowl win over Washington - Terrance Ganaway ran for 200 yards and five scores as one of three Bears to go over 100 yards. Griffin's 295 passing yards and 55 rushing yards and a score weren't bad. Andrew Luck would've made the margin closer after completing 27-of-31 passes for 347 yards and two scores with a pick in the loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, while Trent Richardson ran for 96 yards and a score to help Alabama win the national title. Montee Ball was great against Oregon in the Rose Bowl loss, running for 164 yards and a score and catching four passes for 51 yards, but the high-riser would've been Houston's Case Keenum, who embarrassed Penn State with 532 passing yards and three touchdowns in a blowout win.

2010 Cam Newton, QB Auburn
The Final Three Were ... 1) Newton, 2) Andrew Luck, QB Stanford, 3) LaMichael James, RB Oregon
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Cam Newton, QB Auburn
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Newton, 2) Luck, 3) Kellen Moore, QB Boise State

While Cam wasn't necessarily Cam in the BCS Championship win over Oregon, but he was Cam enough, completing 20-of-34 passes for 265 yards and two scores with a pick, and running 22 times for 64 yards. Meanwhile, James was stuffed for 49 yards on just 13 carries. Luck destroyed Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, completing 18-of-23 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns with a pick, but it still wouldn't have been enough to get past Newton. Moore and Boise State obliterated Utah 26-3 with a 28-of-38 day for 339 yards and two scores with a pick.

2009 Mark Ingram, RB Alabama
The Final Three Were ... 1) Ingram, 2) Toby Gerhart, RB Stanford, 3) Colt McCoy, QB Texas
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Mark Ingram, RB Alabama
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Ingram, 2) Gerhart 3) Tim Tebow, QB Florida

There’s some thought that Gerhart would’ve won if more people had seen him play, with most of his big games coming in when most of the East Coast was doing something else, but he didn’t disappoint in the Sun Bowl loss to Oklahoma, running 32 times for 135 yards and two scores. However, Ingram’s performance in the BCS Championship against Texas would’ve only solidified his win after running 22 times for 116 yards and two scores, and catching two passes for 12 yards, against the dominant Texas run defense to carry the Tide to the national title. The battle for the No. 3 spot would’ve been interesting. Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh only made three tackles with a tackle for loss against Arizona, but the defense was dominant, allowing just 109 total yards in the 33-0 Holiday Bowl win. Tebow, who had a mediocre regular season and didn’t deserve to be in the hunt on anything but name recognition, probably would’ve finished third after completing 31-of-35 passes for a career-high 482 yards and three touchdowns, while running 14 times for 51 yards and a score, in the 51-24 blowout win over Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl.

2008 Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma
The Final Three Were ... 1) Bradford, 2) Colt McCoy, QB Texas, 3) Tim Tebow, QB Florida
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Tim Tebow, QB Florida
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Tebow, 2) McCoy 3) Bradford

In a dogfight of a race, Bradford beat McCoy 1,726 points to 1,640, and Tebow came in a close third with 1,575 points. The No. 4 man, Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell, only got 213 points. Florida beat Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS Championship with Tebow completing 18-of-30 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran 22 times for 109 yards leading the way to the title. However, he threw two interceptions, and Bradford wasn’t bad completing 26-of-41 passes for 256 yards with two touchdown passes and two picks. It wouldn’t have been enough, though, to beat out Tebow. The voting would’ve been really, really close, though, with McCoy completing 41-of-58 passes for 41 yards and two touchdowns with a rushing score and an interception in the thrilling comeback win over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

2007 Tim Tebow, QB Florida
The Final Three Were ... 1) Tebow, 2) Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas, 3) Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Tim Tebow, QB Florida
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Tebow, 2) White 3) McFadden

This wouldn't have been a slam dunk, but considering Tebow barely beat McFadden in a close battle, it's not like Tebow was the obvious choice. Tebow wasn't bad in the 41-35 Capital One Bowl loss to Michigan, completing 17-of-33 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns, but he misfired late and wasn't able to bring his Gators back. McFadden was great in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri, running for 105 yards and a touchdown, but the game was a disaster. With Houston Nutt off to Ole Miss, the team gave a lifeless performance in the 38-7 loss. Brennan was used as a rag doll by Georgia in the disastrous Sugar Bowl loss. Meanwhile, White completed 10-of-19 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns and ran 20 times for 150 yards as he led the Mountaineers to a 48-28 win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

2006 Troy Smith, QB Ohio State
The Final Three Were ... 1) Smith, 2) Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas, 3) Brady Quinn, QB Notre Dame
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Brennan, 2) Smith, 3) McFadden

Troy Smith won the Heisman in a landslide, but after completing just four of 14 passes for 35 yards with an interception in the BCS Championship debacle against Florida, the voting would've been wide open. Darren McFadden was fine against Wisconsin, but he wasn't special and his Hogs lost. No. 3 in the voting was Brady Quinn, but his Irish got whacked by LSU in the Sugar Bowl. West Virginia QB Pat White, and not teammate Steve Slaton, who was fourth in the voting, was the star against Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl, and Mike Hart's Michigan team got crushed by USC in the Rose Bowl. That leaves Colt Brennan, who put up a record-setting season at Hawaii with 58 touchdown passes, 5,549 yards and five rushing scores. He tore apart Arizona State in the Hawaii Bowl throwing for 559 yards and five touchdowns with an interception in the 41-24 win.

2005 Reggie Bush, RB USC
The Final Three Were ... 1) Bush, 2) Vince Young, QB Texas, 3) Matt Leinart, QB USC
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Vince Young, QB Texas
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Young, 2) Bush, 3) Leinart

Reggie Bush won the Heisman with relative ease, and he was fantastic in the 2006 Rose Bowl with 275 total yards, rushing for 82 yards and a score, catching six passes for 95 yards, and cranking out 102 yards on kickoff returns. But that was Vince Young's magnum opus. The Longhorn legend completed 30 of 40 passes for 267 yards, and ran 19 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns, in the Texas win. Matt Leinart was more than fine in the third slot completing 29 of 40 passes for 365 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Longhorns.

2004 Matt Leinart, QB USC
The Final Three Were ... 1) Leinart, 2) Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma, 3) Jason White, QB Oklahoma
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Matt Leinart, QB USC
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Leinart, 2) Peterson, 3) Alex Smith, QB Utah

No brainer. Leinart completed 18-of-35 passes for 332 yards and five touchdown passes in the 55-19 win over the Sooners in the national title game played in the Orange Bowl. Adrian Peterson ran 24 times for 82 yards in the loss to the Trojans, but he couldn't do much with his team falling being so quickly. Alex Smith led his Utah team to an unbeaten season and was magnificent in the Fiesta Bowl win over Pittsburgh, completing 29 of 37 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns, and running for 68 yards. He originally finished fourth, and might have ended up moving up to second after the bowls.

2003 Jason White, QB Oklahoma
The Final Three Were ... 1) White, 2) Larry Fitzgerald, WR Pitt, 3) Eli Manning, QB Ole Miss
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Matt Leinart, QB USC
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Matt Leinart, QB USC, 2) Manning, 3) Phil Rivers, QB NC State

This one's extremely debatable. White completed 13 of 37 passes for 104 yards with two interceptions in the Sugar Bowl loss to LSU and would've dropped out of the final three entirely. Larry Fitzgerald caught just five passes for 75 yards in the Continental Tire Bowl loss to Virginia. Eli Manning, who finished third, might have ended up winning, or would've finished a close second after completing 22 of 31 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and running for a score, in a Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State, but Ole Miss RB Tremaine Turner was the star of that game. Michigan's Chris Perry finished fourth, Kansas State's Darren Sproles finished fifth, and Leinart was sixth. The USC star led his team to an AP national title with a Rose Bowl win over Michigan by after completing 23 of 34 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught a pass for a touchdown. In the third slot would've been NC State QB Phil Rivers, who finished seventh in the voting, and completed 37 of 45 passes for 484 yards and five touchdowns in a 56-26 win over Kansas in the Tangerine Bowl.

2002 Carson Palmer, QB USC
The Final Three Were ... 1) Palmer, 2) Brad Banks, QB Iowa, 3) Larry Johnson, RB Penn State
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Carson Palmer, QB USC
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Palmer, 2) Maurice Clarett, RB Ohio State, 3) Johnson

Carson Palmer completed 21 of 31 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown in the win over Brad Banks and Iowa in the 2003 Orange Bowl. Banks only completed 15 of 36 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 36 yards, and Larry Johnson, who finished third, only ran for 72 yards in a 13-9 Capital One Bowl loss to Auburn. And then there's Maurice Clarett, the Ohio State freshman who was the star of the national champion Buckeyes. The touchdown machine was hurt throughout the year, and only ran for 47 yards in the Fiesta Bowl win over Miami, but he scored twice, including the game-winning five-yard run in overtime, and his strip of Sean Taylor after a turnover helped make him the signature player in the monster upset.

2001 Eric Crouch, QB Nebraska
The Final Three Were ... 1) Crouch, 2) Rex Grossman, QB Florida, 3) Ken Dorsey, QB Miami
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Rex Grossman, QB Florida
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Grossman, 2) Dorsey, 3) Joey Harrington, QB Oregon

This would've been a fun debate. Rex Grossman got hosed, having lost to Eric Crouch by a mere 62 total points despite having the far better season. Basically, he lost because he was a sophomore. Now this is where it would get interesting. Brock Berlin started for the Gators in the Orange Bowl against Maryland because Grossman was being punished by Steve Spurrier, but would that have happened if the Heisman was still up in the air? Grossman came off the bench to complete 20 of 28 passes for 248 yards and four touchdowns in the blowout win. Meanwhile, Crouch ran 22 times for 114 yards in the Rose Bowl loss to Miami, but he only completed five of 15 passes for 62 yards with an interception in the 37-14 loss. Here's where the argument kicks in. Ken Dorsey finished a ridiculously close third in the voting, just 70 points behind Grossman and 132 behind Crouch. Andre Johnson was the star in the Miami Rose Bowl win, but Dorsey was also fantastic completing 22 of 35 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. After the bowls, Crouch would've likely plummeted to fourth with Oregon's Joey Harrington, who threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns in the 38-16 Fiesta Bowl win over Colorado, finishing behind Grossman and Dorsey.

2000 Chris Weinke, QB Florida State
The Final Three Were ... 1) Weinke, 2) Josh Heupel, QB Oklahoma, 3) Drew Brees, QB Purdue
The Likely Winner After The Bowls Would’ve Been ... Josh Heupel, QB Oklahoma
The Final Three Likely Would’ve Been ... 1) Heupel, 2) Weinke, 3) Brees

In one of the better Heisman battles, Chris Weinke ended up getting 1,628 total points to Josh Heupel's 1,552. Oklahoma beat FSU 13-2 in the 2001 Orange Bowl with Weinke completing 25 of 51 passes for 274 yards with two interceptions, while Heupel completed 25 of 39 passes for 214 yards and an interception. However, Heupel got the win, and that might have been enough to get by and win the prize. Drew Brees was third, and likely would've stayed there after completing 23 of 39 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl loss to Washington.