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The Greatest Heisman Race Ever
Tim Tebow is back, as expected, and so is Colt McCoy. But Sam Bradford threw a curve ball into the 2009 NFL Draft, the national title chase, and the Heisman race, which should be the greatest of all-time, now that the reigning winner is coming back. As Pete Fiutak writes, get ready for the thrill ride.
Bradford Coming Back ...
The 2009 Heisman
race was going to be good before, but now ...
McCoy led Texas to a brilliant, heart-stopping game-winning drive in the
final few seconds to beat Ohio State in a classic Fiesta Bowl. With it,
and because a large segment of the world still feels lousy about how
McCoy and Texas got hosed in the Heisman and national title chases,
respectively, McCoy was expected to be the odds on favorite to win the
Fast forward a few days later to Miami, where Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford
squared off in a matchup of Heisman winners with a bigger prize at
stake. With everything on the line, Tebow said, "third place this" and
led Florida to a thrilling national title win over Oklahoma. With the
win, Tebow's reputation grew from legendary to a discussion of the
all-time greats. With the loss, Bradford's Heisman suddenly seemed a bit
tarnished, even with all the great things that he did throughout the
season. As expected, Tebow announced he was coming back for his senior
year, and at that moment he became the favorite to win the Heisman while
Florida became the likely preseason No. 1 pick.
And then came Wednesday afternoon.
If Georgia's Matthew Stafford wasn't No. 1 on everyone's draft board for
a Detroit Lion team in desperate need of a franchise quarterback, it was
Of course he was going to leave school early as a third year sophomore.
Of course he wasn't going to pass up $75 million. No one would've
thought ill of him if he decided to take off to fulfill every player's
pie-in-the-sky dream of going off to the big league. But Bradford
decided to come back for another year to try to create a legacy that
would be more than two terrific years and the greatest individual prize
in all of sports.
With Bradford's decision, and with USC QB Mark Sanchez choosing to leave
and become far richer than he would've been had the OU star left, the
Heisman race is cut and dry and it should be the greatest weekly
showdown of greats that college football has ever seen.
2005 certainly came close with Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and Vince
Young battling for the prize. The 1979 race saw USC's Charles White, who
finished fourth in 1978 to Oklahoma's Billy Sims, who finished second
the year after. But there was no third star in the mix, unless you count
BYU's Marc Wilson. Leinart beat out Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, 2003
Heisman winner Jason White of OU, Utah's Alex Smith and Bush, but that
wasn't nearly the thriller that this year's chase should be.
This is star power to the nth degree. This will be a year when all three
will likely be trying to one-up the other with their play, but only in
an attempt to lead their respective teams to the national title. Ah yes,
the national title hunt.
Florida will likely be the nation's preseason No. 1 team, Texas should
be second, and with Sanchez leaving, meaning USC should be around No. 5,
Oklahoma will almost certainly be third. If Tebow, McCoy and Bradford
had left, teams like Nebraska,
Oregon and Oklahoma State would've been sleeper teams in the BCS
Championship hunt, while obvious teams like LSU and USC would be
front-and-center in everyone's top three. Now, with the three biggest
stars in college football coming back, if Florida and the winner of the
OU/Texas game go unbeaten, they'll play for the national title (unless
USC goes unbeaten, but the 2009 team likely won't be strong enough to do
If nothing else, this will be a whole bunch of fun this off-season as
the anticipation will build and build and build for a season that will
need a miracle to live up to what the hype will be. Thanks Tim, Colt and
Sam for sticking around ... even if you really should be gone.