The point isn’t so much that the offenses need to be cutting edge, but if you are going to produce Heismans in a quarterback-dominated era, you’d better have guys who can throw the ball and put up numbers. And if you have a great running back, he’d better get a lot of yards. The SEC hasn’t been doing enough of that in the last 20 years and that’s why its Heisman production has not kept up with its prominence in the team rankings.
In case you're wondering why that rationale shifted, it's because HP is trying to glide past the Senator's citation of Ron Dayne, who played in an offense that was anything but sophisticated. So now, the argument is that you need an offense that puts up a lot of numbers, either at the quarterback position or at running back. Really? Heisman winners need gaudy statistics? That's a revolutionary concept.
And why do SEC players not put up gaudy numbers? I'll give you two reasons, none of which will have anything to do with Cro Magnon offenses in the Deep South:
1. SEC defenses do not permit opponents to run up huge numbers. Ask Sam Bradford.
2. SEC teams are more likely to rotate running backs. This is because there is more talent in the South and most top teams have multiple running threats. In this respect, SEC teams are more advanced than their counterparts in other conferences, as the majority of offensive coaches in the NFL have figured out that rotating backs makes sense. (The coach of the local pro football collective could stand to learn this lesson.) The fact that Heisman voters fall for ruses like Javon Ringer putting up numbers because he gets the ball 30+ times every game against average defenses is an indictment of the award, not of SEC offenses.
I'll also make the point that the characterization of SEC offenses as being less likely to throw the ball is simply wrong. Off the top of my head, SEC offenses of the past 20 years have included: David Cutcliffe's offenses at Tennessee and Ole Miss, Terry Bowden's offense at Auburn (especially when he had Dameyune Craig), Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher's offense at LSU when they rode Rohan Davey and Josh Reed to an SEC title, the Air Raid offense at Kentucky, the offense that Rich Brooks built around Andre Woodson at Kentucky, the 1994 Georgia team with Eric Zeier, the adaptation of the Fast Break that Mark Richt has employed at Georgia, and Steve Spurrier's offenses at South Carolina and Florida. Yeah, other than that, no one throws the ball in the SEC.
And then HP turns his loving attention to my post. Initially, notice the unsubtle attempt to bait and switch. My argument is this: it cannot be a coincidence that the two SEC teams in the all-time top ten in winning percentage - Alabama and Tennessee - have combined to win zero Heismans while the other eight programs have combined to win 35. Knowing that he has absolutely no chance when discussing Tennessee, a program whose two best candidates lost to the only Heisman winner from a losing team and the only Heisman winner who played defense, he just ignores them and instead focuses on Alabama. He makes a decent point when noting that Alabama did not produce a lot of runners with gaudy stats in the 1970s because the wishbone tended to disperse carries. (This would be an instance of an SEC offense being too advanced for simple-minded Heisman voters.) HP then challenges me to come up with an Alabama player who should have won the award. Since Don Hutson left Alabama just before the first Heisman was awarded, I'll vote for Shaun Alexander.
In 1999, Alexander ran for 1,383 yards and 19 touchdowns, while also catching 25 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns. He played on an Alabama team that won the SEC while playing one of the hardest schedules in the country and became the first SEC team to win in the Swamp, a game in which Alexander was unstoppable. The award was instead won by Ron Dayne, who ran for 1,834 yards and 19 touchdowns, while catching exactly one ball for nine yards. Dayne did not break 100 yards against Michigan (Wisconsin's albatross at the time), he did not play Penn State, and Wisconsin played their typically ludicrous non-conference schedule.
So let's see: Alexander totaled 1,706 yards and 23 touchdowns against a very difficult schedule and had a huge performance in Alabama's biggest game of the year, while Dayne totaled 1,843 yards and 19 touchdowns against a relatively easy schedule. If you apply the rationale that was used to defeat Peyton Manning's Heisman campaign - Florida was Tennessee's bete noire and his poor performance at the Swamp killed his chances - then Dayne had no business winning the award after gaining 88 yards on 22 carries against Michigan (including a big fat goose egg on eight carries in the second half) and his team lost 21-16 with Wisconsin's last touchdown coming against a prevent defense in the final minutes. Alexander then went well before Dayne in the NFL Draft and had a far better pro career, a fact that I mention only because any reasonable person could have looked at the two of them at the time the Heisman vote was conducted and predicted that result. Alexander was a great runner and Dayne was a fat tub of goo who was great at running through giant holes at top speed like a giant boulder, but lousy against defenses that could force him to change direction. If Heisman voters couldn't figure out that Dayne was a product of his system and that Alexander was a far better player, then the award isn't worth much. Which it isn't.
HP, please mention the idea that Dayne won the award as a career achievement reward. Please please please.