Expensive and extensive Heisman Trophy campaigns are mostly a relic, as TV and Internet exposure has made lobbying voters less important.
But such campaigns still exist and can be fun to follow. The Big Ten, in my view, has two strong preseason Heisman candidates and one dark-horse contender as we enter the season. What should their trophy campaigns look like? Let's examine:
Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin: The Badgers have already come up with a slogan for Ball's Heisman campaign: "This Fall Belongs to Ball." It's even more appropriate now than when the school dreamed it up. The spring and summer were not the brightest times for the 2011 Heisman finalist, who endured an arrest and an attack by five men who jumped him. But as long as he's healthy and scoring touchdowns this fall like he did during last season's record-setting march, Ball will be very much in the race.
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan: The stately Wolverines wouldn't deign to design a Heisman campaign for their star, so we'll come up with one for them. How about this: "Laces Out." Send every Heisman voter a pair of shoelaces to remind them of Robinson's signature look and capitalize on the fact that the quarterback has been far more outgoing and outspoken this year. A DVD of his stirring speech at the Big Ten kickoff luncheon wouldn't hurt, either. Ultimately, though, Robinson will simply need to turn in consistent performances and improve his passing numbers to be more than a half-season candidate.
Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska: If the Cornhuskers can win the Big Ten and Burkhead can lead the charge offensively as he did last year, he can be a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman. So what should his campaign look like? Our suggestion: "Vote for Superman." That's a nickname for Burkhead, though he's much too humble to publicly embrace it. And he's pretty super off the field as well, as he won a national award for his work with a young fan battling brain cancer. Burkhead has the perfect image for a Heisman golden boy; all he needs is a few more signature plays.