by | Nov 25, 1992 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

My Heisman vote is in. Here’s how I voted: I voted to skip it.

Take the year off. Save the statue, put it back in its case, and whoever wins next year, give him two.

Assuming it’s someone deserving — which, let’s face it, we really don’t have this year. Drama? Ha! This year’s Heisman race has been a group of butlers holding the door open for one another. You go first. No, please, you. No, I insist. No, after you.

Whatever happened to someone grabbing the brass ring and running off with it? Week after week, you look in those little charts in the newspapers — the ones marked “Heisman Hopefuls” — and week after week, they look more and more hopeless.

Take Marshall Faulk, the San Diego State running back, who was supposed to rack up 200 yards just by putting on his pads. “Marshall rules!” they hollered. But what happened? Faulk started at a gallop, slowed to a trot, and, at last look, was sitting down altogether, injured Saturday after only two carries. Is this a guy who deserves Best College Football Player in the Nation?

I think not.

What about Rick Mirer, the Notre Dame quarterback and everybody’s preseason cover boy? Experts said the only reason he didn’t go pro last year was because he could win a Heisman, a national championship and triple his money by staying in school.

Not quite. The Golden Boy looked bronze in a tie with Michigan, had a copper day against Purdue and couldn’t get past pewter in a loss to Stanford. No national championship. No Heisman.

No, thank you.


Will stars ever come out?

There’s Garrison Hearst, the Georgia running back who got everyone’s attention in the middle of the season — mostly because the above-mentioned stars were fading. Hearst strung together a few big games, but, in the heat of the spotlight, he melted. Had just 41 yards in the showdown with Florida — the game where he could have grabbed the trophy for keeps. Sure, he’s having a very good season. But does “very good” get you a Heisman?

Not where I live, honey.

And now, of course, from the land of humidity, comes the cry for Gino Torretta, the Miami (Fla.) quarterback. Hey. Let’s be honest. All Miami quarterbacks are automatically tossed in the Heisman bowl — particularly late in the year, because Miami is always on top late in the year. And if they wanted to give the trophy to the whole Miami team, I wouldn’t argue — although asking them to split it up might be ugly. The linemen would rip off the arms, the linebackers would chew off the legs, the safeties would chomp off the head, and what’s left for the quarterback?

Nothing. Which, for Toretta — who ranks 20th in passing efficiency, had 80 yards passing against Penn State and threw three interceptions against Syracuse last week — is about as much as he deserves of that little bronze statue. Sorry, Gino.


Oops. There is no next.

Nothing to kick about

Now, I confess, I have always been lukewarm about the Heisman concept. How can you determine the best single player in college football? Is running more important than blocking? Is throwing more important than kicking? Is the guy who catches the touchdown more important than the guy who breaks it up?

People have argued for years that linemen and safeties and even kickers should be considered even-up with the running backs and quarterbacks who usually win the Heisman. And those folks are right. Except for the kickers. I wouldn’t go that far.

But even using the traditional bias — the glamour spots — nobody leaps off the page this year. Nobody like Barry Sanders, who could not be denied with his zillion-plus yards at Oklahoma State. Or Desmond Howard, who swallowed two touchdowns a week at such a regular clip last season, they nicknamed him Desmond Two-Two.

I keep watching the college horizon for some giant to come rumbling over. And I do not see one. Coaches always talk about a “team game, team game.” Well. Maybe they finally have it. Congratulations.

Which brings me back to my original point. This isn’t the Oscars. We don’t have to have Best Actor every year. Let’s be original! Let’s be bold!

Or, to quote that famous tailback, Cole (Bubba) Porter, let’s call the whole thing off. Cancel the Heisman. Forget those melodramatic ceremonies, the cameras at the mother’s house, the speeches, the high fives. Not for someone who’s less than phenomenal. Skip it. Keep the Heisman’s honor (what little it has left). Make somebody earn it, and if nobody earns it, put it back on the pile, like an unclaimed lottery ticket. Next year’s jackpot is worth double.

But don’t give it out for the sake of giving it out.

Or else giving it out is all you’re doing.

Mitch Albom will sign copies of his new book, “Live Albom III,” Friday at 1 p.m. at B. Dalton, Oakland Mall, and Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at B. Dalton, Westland, and 4 p.m. at B. Dalton, Twelve Oaks Mall, Novi.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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