Thursday, July 1, 2010
Ponder Heisman campaign on the way?
By ESPN.com staff
The e-mail wasn't the usual Florida State football release. It was kind of cryptic. Mysterious.
There was a logo with a silhouette of a quarterback in throwing motion with CP7 on the front. The only message: Coming 7.7.10.
Andrew Carter of the Orlando Sentinel had a great line: Either FSU quarterback Christian Ponder is starring in a movie to be released next Wednesday, or FSU is getting ready to launch his Heisman campaign.
I'd vote for the latter.
The question is, will Ponder get enough votes?
Florida State, which has had two Heisman Trophy winners, has never launched a Heisman campaign. It never needed to.
Well, it does now.
Florida State's quarterback was spectacular last season until he was injured against Clemson, but unless the defense improves enough for the Seminoles to at least play in the ACC title game, Ponder will be a tough sell. Look at what happened to C.J. Spiller last year, Heisman campaign and all. He was, in my opinion, the most complete player in college football, and the most valuable to his team. He not only played in the ACC championship game, he was named the MVP, despite playing for the losing team.
The Heisman Trophy is supposed to go to the best player in college football, but history defines it as the best player on the best team. Only one Heisman Trophy winner in the history of the award has ever won with a losing record — Notre Dame quarterback Paul Hornung in 1956. The Irish were 2-8 that year. The very first winner, running back Jay Berwanger, finished with a 4-4 record.
Former coach Bobby Bowden, who coached two winners in Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke, and a runner-up in Casey Weldon, knows winning is a key ingredient.
During the season last year, I asked Bowden about his thoughts on Ponder’s chances at the Heisman race, and whether the Noles’ record should be a factor.
“I think that he’s probably playing as good or better — I know he’s playing as good or better as any quarterback I’ve seen this year,” Bowden said. “I haven’t seen all of them, but it would be hard for somebody to play better. Now, if we were having a great year, his name would pop right up there. But we’re still on the losing side, 3-4, and to me you’ve got to have success with it.”
The voters seem to agree, and success is something Florida State's marketing department won't be able to manufacture.