Saturday, December 10, 2011

80s by far the best Heisman decade

Some make fun of the 1980s. Considering the pop culture cheesefest in terms of movies, music and TV shows, those critics have a point.

When it comes to the Heisman, I'm forever stuck in the 80s. Not even Andre Ware, who some argue was the product of a pass-happy, gimmicky offense and the last Heisman winner of the decade, can bring down this awesome collection of talent.

In honor of the 80s, let's rank the Heisman winners during that super decade:

10. Andre Ware, QB, Houston, 1989: Threw for 4,699 yards and 44 touchdowns, and set 26 NCAA records during his junior season, but as the years go by, Ware's Heisman season loses steam because of the gimmicky offense he directed.

9. Tim Brown, WR/PR, Notre Dame, 1987: Brown is the first receiver to win the Heisman, but his performance as punt returner against Michigan State (two consecutive punt returns for touchdowns) all but clinched the award. He had over 1,800 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns, and was helped by a week group of Heisman candidates. His pro career far outweighed his college career.

8. Vinny Testaverde, QB, Miami (Fla.), 1986: Testaverde was remarkable during the regular season for the No. 1 Hurricanes, with 2,557 yards and 26 touchdowns, but it all came crumbling down in the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State for the national championship, throwing five interceptions.

7. George Rogers, RB, South Carolina, 1980: Rogers was solid (1,781 yards, 14 TDs), and the fact he was a senior probably helped him in the Heisman race because true freshman Herschel Walker (1,616 yards, 15 TDs) should have won the award.

6. Doug Flutie, QB, Boston College, 1984: Flutie's Hail Mary pass to beat Miami (Fla.) the day after Thanksgiving in '84 is the greatest Heisman moment ever. He wasn't a one-game wonder, though, throwing for 3,454 yards and 27 TDs that season. Ohio State homers still complain runner-up Keith Byars deserved the award that year. Nonsense.

5. Mike Rozier, RB, Nebraska, 1983: Rozier was the best from one of the best teams never to win a national championship, rushing for a whopping 2,148 yards and 29 TDs before Bernie Kosar and the Miami Hurricanes stunned the No. 1 Cornhuskers in the Orange Bowl.

4. Bo Jackson, RB, Auburn, 1985: Bo knew Heisman voting in '85, as he edged Iowa QB Chuck Long, 1,509 to 1,464. It shouldn't have been that close. Jackson, who ran for 1,786 yards and 17 touchdowns in '85, was clearly one of the best running backs of the '80s, especially considering the top three on this list.

3. Marcus Allen, RB, USC, 1981: Many fans forget how awesome Allen was as a senior at USC, rushing for 2,342 yards and 22 touchdowns.

2. Barry Sanders, RB, Oklhoma State, 1988: It's difficult to deny Sanders the No. 1 spot on this list after a season of 2,628 yards and 37 touchdowns, but ...

1. Herschel Walker, RB, Georgia, 1982: Walker is the greatest college running back ever. He probably should have won two Heismans. As a junior, Walker rushed for 1,752 yards and 16 TDs. The top three in the '82 Heisman voting is arguably the greatest Heisman trifecta ever: 1. Walker, 2. Stanford's John Elway, 3. SMU's Eric Dickerson. Wow.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

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