NCF Nation: Donny Anderson
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell has the opportunity to do something that's almost unprecedented in the annals of modern Heisman Trophy campaigns.
|Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images|
|Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell has thrown 28 touchdown passes this season.|
Despite breaking a slew of national passing records and leading his team to an 8-0 record for the first time in 32 seasons, Harrell's contact with the media has been almost non-existent this week as he prepares for the biggest game of his career.
So much for worrying about satellite shoots, radio shows or teleconferences with the national media. If Harrell wins the Heisman this season he'll do it the old-fashioned way -- by earning it on the field with a big performance over No. 1 Texas and during the rest of the season.
The lack of media attention this week was mandated by Tech coach Mike Leach, who decided that Harrell didn't need the distractions of facing the media. All interview requests have been turned down.
"I didn't know it would be as interview-intensive as it was, but I knew it would be a great deal," Leach said. "Graham's job first is to be the best quarterback he can and do interviews secondly. I guess that's a long way of me saying he's a key guy for us and I don't want him to be sidetracked by that stuff."
Leach's mandate comes with some risk. The Red Raiders have never had a player place higher than fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting when Donny Anderson was selected in 1965.
But the Tech coach said he has no second thoughts about shuttering Harrell and Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree out of the media spotlight this week. Even with the realization that national honors for both perhaps could spur recruiting efforts at the remote West Texas school and perhaps make attracting the next standout that much easier.
"I'm glad I did it and I can more than live with it," Leach said. "As you know, I'm not above keeping them all out of the interview room. My number one job is to coach these guys the best I can. To give interviews is entirely secondary."
Instead, Harrell will have his opportunity to make his biggest statement on the field Saturday night.