I’m standing in the middle of the sportsbook at the Wynn during my latest visit to “Sin City” (aka Vegas). My Dad is placing his annual bet on the Badgers to win the National Championship and I spy the betting sheet for the Heisman Trophy. My mind wanders to last year and how our beloved Jonathan Taylor didn’t even make it to the Downtown Athletic Club. Sigh…but what about this year?
2019 will bring the 85th winner of the esteemed Heisman Trophy and a running back has brought it home over half the time. “JT” is in a prime position leading the country in scoring with 19 touchdowns while rushing for 957 yards, tops in the Big Ten Conference and 3rd overall nationwide. His scoring prowess makes up 41% of the Badgers scoring in 2019 which is just flat out absurd. Taylor’s performance this year is no fluke. In 2018, he led the country in rushing with 2194 yards from scrimmage and was third in 2017 with 1977 yards. He became the fastest player ever to rush for 5000 yards in a career last week. That’s right, ever. However, despite all this repeated excellence, history is not on his side when it comes to the Heisman.
Since 2000, there have been just 3 running back winners, Reggie Bush (2005), Mark Ingram (2009), and most recently Derrick Henry (2015). Bush vacated his win amidst scandals at USC while Ingram and Henry come from powerhouse Alabama. The other winners since 2000? Yup, all quarterbacks. We’re all infatuated with the quarterback. This is especially prevalent in the NFL but yes, CFB has the same disease.
Jonathan is special though, right? I might have agreed that it’s possible until that nauseating disaster in Champaign last weekend. The three recent RB winners have one thing in common: winning. All three played for a National Championship with Ingram and Henry adding a ring to their finger. Bush came close but lost out to a Vince Young inspired Texas team in the final game. The Badgers’ title chances have now dropped to just 2% according to Fivethirtyeight.com. Sorry Dad.
The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the “nation’s most outstanding player” as determined by the Heisman voters. While the questions around voting in today’s society loom large, I highly doubt the Russians are colluding here. Or maybe they’re all Alabama fans? I think Nick Saban’s middle name might just be “Boris”…can everyone picture Tua on stage? I can. Sorry Jonathan, I love you but I think a repeat as the Doak Walker winner is about the best you can hope for.
By Elizabeth Schultz