Sam Bradford Wins The Heisman
McCoy 2nd, Tebow 3rd
Tebow the first sophomore
to win it
Troy Smith wins in a
“What are they
doing? They’re screwing up the nation’s best quarterback?” – B.K.
“Please calm me down. It’s not like Bradford was bad, but it seems
like this new offense is only going to keep him from reaching his
potential. What was so bad about the way the offense was working?” –
These are snippets from two of the dozens of e-mails that came in late
this spring from Oklahoma fans concerned about the tinkering being done
with an offense that was among the most efficient in the nation. The
Sooners were implementing a quick-tempo, quick-hitting attack that
deemphasized the downfield passing game, at least a little bit, and
revolved around getting the ball out of Sam Bradford’s hands as quickly
as possible and in a rhythm to keep defenses on their heels. While
Bradford was hardly bad in spring ball, he struggled for a few stretches
and he threw a few (gasp!) interceptions in scrimmages. Little did
anyone really know that the groundwork was being set for, arguably, the
most devastating offense in the history of college football.
Oklahoma sophomore Sam Bradford won the 74th Heisman Trophy
with Texas QB Colt McCoy finishing second and Florida QB Tim Tebow
falling short of a second straight Heisman by finishing third. However,
Tebow received the most first place votes (309) with Bradford finishing
second (300). Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree finished
a distant fourth and fifth, respectively. Tebow broke the sophomore
barrier when it came to Heisman winners last year, and Bradford made it
two in a row.
Bradford wasn’t the most valuable player in college football this
season. (Actually, a case could be made that he would’ve earned the
mythical MVP last season when he led the nation in passing efficiency,
completing 70% of his throws for 3,121 yards and 36 touchdowns with
eight interceptions. As a freshman, he was never in the Heisman race in
a crowded year for upper-classmen.) McCoy and Tebow were probably more
valuable to their respective teams than Bradford was; Oklahoma, with No.
2 QB Joey Halze under center, still might have gone 11-1 with its line
(possibly the best in the nation) leading the way for a tremendous
running game. Would OU have been amazing enough to get the style points
needed to get by Texas for a spot in the Big 12 title? That debate is
for another time, but the Heisman isn’t an MVP.
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Bradford didn’t carry his team to a conference title like Tebow needed
to do with Florida. He didn’t lead his team in rushing, like McCoy had
to do with Texas. He didn’t lead the nation in total offense, completion
percentage (McCoy led the way completing 78% of his throws), was 12th
in the nation in passing, and was third in passing yards. However, the
Heisman is supposed to go to the nation’s most outstanding
player, and by that criteria, it’s almost impossible to argue against
what Bradford did.
By sheer numbers, on the biggest stage week after week after week in the
best division in the country, by far, Bradford was flawless. Cincinnati
is going to the Orange Bowl. Bradford threw for 395 yards and five
touchdowns in a blowout win over the Bearcats. TCU used its phenomenal
pass rush to hit Bradford over and over against. 411 yards, four
touchdowns, 35-10 win. In his one relative dud of a game, a 58-35 win
over Kansas State, he still threw three touchdown passes without an
interception. Over the last seven games of the year, he threw 25
touchdown passes and just one interception with three rushing scores. Of
course, that came after the loss to Texas.
McCoy came away with the 45-35 win over the Sooners, but Bradford was
fantastic with 387 yards and five touchdown passes with two
interceptions. Tebow answered his loss to Ole Miss by challenging
himself and his team to be better and more focused. McCoy answered his
loss against Texas Tech by being the same, steady, brilliant self he was
before. Bradford answered his loss to the Longhorns by leading the way
to the greatest run over offensive production ever seen.
It took a lot to convince pollsters to vote for the Sooners over the
Longhorns considering the head-to-head defeat, and Bradford made it
happen by leading the way to 45 points against Kansas, 58 against Kansas
State, 62 against Nebraska, 66 against Texas A&M, 65 in the national
showcase game against Texas Tech, 61 in another spotlight moment against
Oklahoma State, and 62 in the Big 12 title game against Missouri. No
Citadels in that group.
More impressive than the numbers was the ruthless, brutal efficiency of
the attack. Bradford made it look so, so easy. Oklahoma State
rolled up 452 yards of total offense and returned a kickoff for a
touchdown and still wasn’t even close to keeping up the pace. Kansas
State threw for 486 yards and got blown away by 23 points. Texas Tech
threw for 361 yards and got destroyed. The new Big Red Machine (Nebraska
needs to do more to get the name back) was unstoppable. Fine, the Big
Bradford always seemed to make every right decision and every big play
needed to not just generate points, but do it so quickly and so
breathlessly that games went from competitive to over in a blink of an
eye. And it wasn’t being done with a gimmick.
This isn’t Texas Tech’s run ‘n’ shoot; Oklahoma was second in the Big 12
and 19th in the nation in rushing, averaging 206 yards per
game. Bradford isn’t a superior college player with no hope of doing
much in the pros, like fellow Heisman winners Jason White, Eric Crouch,
Chris Weinke, or in the view of some, Tebow. Bradford is considered to
be a possible top five overall draft pick if he leaves early this year
(he’s a third-year sophomore and eligible to turn pro if he chooses), if
not No. 1 overall. He’s a superior talent running a superior offense in
a superior year for Heisman candidates.
If Tebow is tremendous and Florida beats Oklahoma in the BCS
Championship, then the Heisman world might wish it had a chance to do a
redo. If Tebow and Bradford struggle, and if McCoy lights up Ohio State
like a Christmas tree in the Fiesta Bowl, then there might be buyer’s
remorse when it comes to voting him second. But in a year when the
margin between the three finalists, at least when it came to arguing the
choice, is paper thin, Bradford earned the Heisman with his special year
and by doing something no one had ever seen before with the numbers put
up by his offense. No matter what happens in the bowls, if nothing else,
he and his offense were a whole bunch of fun to watch over a phenomenal