Big 12: Byron Hanspard
The Big 12 has featured four winners during its brief history: Ricky Williams of Texas (1998), Eric Crouch of Nebraska (2001), Jason White of Oklahoma (2003) and Sam Bradford of Oklahoma (2008).
The conference also has been involved in two of the three one-two finishes by a conference during that period.
Williams and Kansas State's Michael Bishop in 1998 and Bradford and McCoy account for two of the three instances that a specific conference had the first- and second-place finishers. The only other time it happened during that period was Tim Tebow of Florida and Darren McFadden of Arkansas in 2007.
Here's a look at how Big 12 players have placed since the conference was formed.
1996: Winner, Florida QB Danny Wuerffel; Iowa State RB Troy Davis, second; Texas Tech RB Byron Hanspard, sixth.
1997: Winner, Michigan DB/WR/KR Charles Woodson; Texas RB Ricky Williams, fifth.
1998: Winner, Texas RB Ricky Williams; Kansas State QB Michael Bishop, second.
1999: Winner, Wisconsin RB Ron Dayne; no Big 12 players among top 10 finishers.
2000: Winner, Florida State QB Chris Weinke; Oklahoma QB Josh Heupel, second.
2001: Winner, Nebraska QB Eric Crouch; Oklahoma S Roy Williams, seventh.
2002: Winner, USC QB Carson Palmer; Colorado RB Chris Brown, eighth; Texas Tech QB Kliff Kingsbury, ninth; Oklahoma RB Quentin Griffin, 10th.
2003: Winner, Oklahoma QB Jason White; Kansas State RB Darren Sproles, fifth; Texas Tech QB B.J. Symons, 10th.
2004: Winner, USC QB Matt Leinart; Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson, second; Oklahoma QB Jason White, third; Texas RB Cedric Benson, sixth.
2005: Winner, USC RB Reggie Bush; Texas QB Vince Young, second.
2006: Winner, Ohio State QB Troy Smith; no Big 12 players among top 10 finishers.
2007: Winner, Florida QB Tim Tebow; Missouri QB Chase Daniel, fourth.
2008: Winner, Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford; Texas QB Colt McCoy, second; Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell, fourth; Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree, fifth.
Who knows? Maybe McCoy or Suh will become the fifth Big 12 Heisman winner.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Other Big 12 running backs to make the list include 2008 conference rushing leader Kendall Hunter of Oklahoma State, Baron Batch of Texas Tech, Roy Helu Jr. of Nebraska, Jake Sharp of Kansas and Cyrus Gray of Texas A&M. They were nominated to the 44-member watch list by their respective schools.
All of the backs appear to have earned their honor though strong performances last season. But Gray rushed for the fewest yards of all but two backs on the watch list with 363 yards in 2008. Additionally, he's expected to face a strong challenge from freshman Christine Michael to keep his job as the Aggies' starting tailback.
Meanwhile, a couple of deserving Big 12 backs who outproduced Gray in 2008 were left off. Missouri's Derrick Washington, who rushed for 1,036 yards, isn't on this list. And neither is Jay Finley, who led Baylor with 865 rushing yards.
The watch list was announced by the SMU Athletic Forum. The award recogonizes the nation's premier running back for his accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom and citizenship in the community.
The Doak Walker Award is the only major collegiate football award that requires all candidates to be in good academic standing and on schedule to graduate within one year of other students of the same classification.
Big 12 athletes have won the award four times since the conference was formed. Winners include Texas Tech's Byron Hanspard in 1996, Ricky Williams of Texas in 1997 and 1998 and Texas' Cedric Benson in 2004.
Also, Byron "Bam" Morris of Texas Tech in 1993 and Rashaan Salaam of Colorado in 1994 have won the Doak Walker Award since it was inaugurated in 1990.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12 media days are always one of my favorite events to cover every year. It's a great way to get excited about the upcoming season, and I can guarantee I came out of the festivities with that feeling after talking to all of the players and coaches.
It's always fun to see everybody. After having a day or so to decompress, I came away from it with a few observations I'd like to share with you.
- Not only are the Oklahoma Sooners the three-time defending Big 12 champions, but they also were easily the most impressive looking athletes I saw during my time at the media days. And the most impressive was Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, who looked like he added about 10 pounds of muscle during the offseason.
As I walked past him, I could have sworn that Bradford was bigger, stronger and better cut muscularly than many of the linebackers I saw during the week.
But Jermaine Gresham and Gerald McCoy weren't far behind. It looks like Sooners strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt's work has paid off over the past few months.
- It used to be that these media days were kind of semi-formal affairs. I remember that many teams came dressed to the nines when they arrived.
The only team that came dressed in their coats and ties were the Kansas State Wildcats. They might reconsider in the future -- or at least let the players show a little originality and not come dressed in the same suits with the Powercat logo on the chest.
- It wasn't a surprise that the biggest throngs of media representatives followed Colt McCoy and Bradford. But coming close to them was a surprise. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin almost had the same kind of elbow-to-elbow jostling that the other two South Division rivals had.
And if McCoy graduates and Bradford leaves for the NFL after his junior season, Griffin could have these proceedings to himself next year.
- It's hard to imagine too many better interviews than Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
Take his explanation for why the Tigers were blown out last season at Texas.
"I was so geeked-up when we played Texas that I didn't catch my breath until the second half," Weatherspoon said. "When I play against guys that I grew up [with], it puts more emphases on that game."
Also, give Weatherspoon credit for his candor when asked about the Tigers' roster last season.
"We had six guys get drafted last year and we could have had more than six," Weatherspoon said. "I'll put my teammates up against anybody."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It might be the most endangered species this side of the American bison.
True workhorse running backs are disappearing across the nation, but particularly in the Big 12.
It's a marked contrast from the past where many Big 12 teams would rely on one major back to account for much of its running production.
Even the expansion of spread offenses can't be blamed entirely for this predicament. If anything, the overabundance of passing attacks should make it easier for one back to dominate carries because most teams are utilizing fewer running plays than ever before.
Here's an indication of how skewed the statistics were last season in the Big 12. Only four backs accounted for at least 40 percent of their team's rushing totals.
Texas Tech's Shannon Woods led all Big 12 backs last season with 44.5 percent of his team's carries -- 141 totes among Texas Tech's 317 rushing attempts.That total is the smallest for a leader in the Big 12 in the conference's history.
Consider only four years ago that nine Big 12 backs accounted for 40 percent of their team's carries in 2004 and seven backs that season topped 50 percent of their team's running plays.
But in today's Big 12, coaches are opting to predominantly use a rotation of backs. Teams like Nebraska (Quentin Castille and Roy Helu Jr.), Oklahoma (DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown) and Texas (Vondrell McGee, Cody Johnson, Fozzy Whittaker and freshman Chris Whaley) all are expected to rotate carries in 2009.
Here's a look at how those numbers have changed during the Big 12's history.