Column: Shut off the hype

Over the next 10 days, a cadre of sportswriters, broadcasters, ex-football players and ex-coaches will be filling out their ballots to vote on the Heisman Trophy, given to the most outstanding college football player.

Once again, the Downtown Athletic Club of New York did not send this sportswriter a ballot. But that's OK. Many voters have not seen all the leading contenders and need some guidance in making the vote. However, there is a solution.

In the space of this column, we can provide a logical reason for casting a vote for a player.

The race has narrowed down to four names — Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel, Ohio State tailback Eddie George, Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier and Iowa State tailback Troy Davis.

Unlike the last 10 Heisman races, this year's vote is anyone's guess. To bestow or not to bestow, that is the question Heisman voters face. So to make it easy on them, we'll break down the race and make a verdict.

Exhibit A — Wuerffel. The Gator quarterback has thrown 33 touchdown passes in 1995 — an average of more than three per game. However, Wuerffel is a product of coach Steve Spurrier's mega-yardage passing scheme. Every quarterback Spurrier has plugged in since 1990 has posted substantial yardage numbers.

Exhibit B — George. The Buckeyes finished the season 11-1. Without George, they probably would have gone 11-1. OSU quarterback Bobby Hoying leads a passing game that helps keep defenses from focusing on George. The tailback ran for 1,876 yards, an impressive figure. However, that isn't tops in the nation — Davis has 134 more yards in one less game.

Exhibit C — Frazier. The Cornhusker signal-caller provides touchdowns — 31 of them in 1995 via the pass and the run. Leadership and hustle are pluses for Frazier, but in a strong year where other players are putting up fantastic numbers, his candidacy for the Heisman is questionable at best.

Exhibit D — Davis. In evaluating this running back, take into account the fact this team went 3-8, and ranked near the bottom of Division I-A in passing. The Cyclones had no passing game in 1995, and Davis alone accounted for more than half of the team's total yardage, an astounding figure for a non quarterback.

Historically speaking, precedence works against Davis, as no player from a losing team has won the Heisman since Paul Hornung in 1956. However, no player that has gained 2,000 yards on the ground has ever failed to win the award.

Davis' 2,010 yards is made more remarkable by his team's offensive inefficency. Opponents knew that the only way ISU could move the ball was by giving it to Davis. But they still couldn't stop him — he had over 100 yards in all but one game in 1995. Oklahoma held him to a paltry 89 yards.

The choice is quite clear — Davis for Heisman. Don't let the talking heads on ESPN fool you — he's the best player in college football in 1995.

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