If you have visited any of the other SBN college blogs this week, the general topic of this post - which former Heisman Trophy winner would we have liked to see play for our school - is likely familiar to you. As an FYI, EA Sports has just released this year's edition of their NCAA Football video game series, with this year's "killer feature" being the ability to add one former Heisman Trophy winner to your team. With this in mind, they have asked the SBN college bloggers to share their thoughts on who they would take in real life. While the post and general topic is sponsored, the content and conclusion of this post is of course my own, and the comments below are yours to dig into as always.
When it comes to the question of which non-UCLA Heisman winner that I would like to have seen suit up in the Powder Blue and Gold, I don't know what all the debate is about. The ‘best' Heisman winner is obvious. Without further ado, the Heisman winner who Bruins Nation most wishes to have been a Bruin is Reggie Bu... Wait. What's that? Oh, I am being told that Reggie is not eligible for this honor. Something about him not being included in the NCAA 13 video game because he is not actually a Heisman Trophy honoree? I guess that is a better fate than the last Southern Cal running back that lost physical possession of his Heisman.
On second thought it really is not a simple question. There are plenty of great players that have won the Heisman over the past 77 years, many of whom would be welcome on any UCLA team. There is also the context to settle upon - would you take the best player overall? Best fit/most useful player for a particular year's Bruin team? Most "Bruin-like" winner? After thinking through all that, my pick would be Charles Woodson, the 1997 Heisman Trophy winning cornerback from the University of Michigan.
Charles Woodson played 3 years at Michigan (1995-97). After becoming a starter early in his freshman season and leading the Wolverines with 5 interceptions - including 2 in a rivalry-game victory over Ohio State - he was named Big Ten freshman of the year and selected to the All-Big Ten first team. In 1996, he picked off another 5 passes and broke up 15 more on the way to being named a first team All-American by the AP.
In his junior year of 1997, Woodson became the first (and only) defensive player of the modern (non-two way) era to win the Heisman Trophy. He intercepted 8 passes while also catching 11 throws on offense for 231 yards (2 td's) and returning punts for Lloyd Carr's National Championship-winning squad. After another standout performance in beating Ohio State, he beat out Peyton Manning for the Heisman after having again been named a first-team All-American, as well as the national defensive player of the year.
Now that I have talked up Charles a bit, here's my thinking as to why I would take him over any of the other distinguished Heisman Trophy winners. And also over the Trojans who have won the trophy. As I mentioned earlier, there is a matter of context to consider. As a temporal consideration, I am thinking of who would be good to see play for this year's Bruin squad, but also thinking of who would be the greatest help to a UCLA team of his own era. Years in which the Bruins finished just shy of conference or national honors.
For the 2012 Bruins, I doubt that there is one player or position that holds the key to success. While a Heisman-winner under center could give us an extra win or two, I would rather see Brett Hundley work through his development and set himself and the program up for a better 2013-14. While the offensive skill positions could always use a boost, adding a player of Woodson's skill to a weakened defensive backfield - along with a few snaps at WR and maybe some kick returns - would help the team immensely as well as just being a cool thing to see.
The 1990's saw the start of my college football watching, and with that in mind has served as the limit to my own look back. Replacing Cade McNown with a Heisman-winning QB would not have done much to improve the fortunes of the late 1990's squads that came close to realizing national glory. While an elite running back or wide receiver - particularly one that could hold onto the football - might have been enough to push UCLA Football over the championship threshold, the team's defense had more room to grow over that Cade-led offense. Add Charles Woodson to that 10-win Bruin team in 1997, and somehow talk him into returning to Westwood as a Senior for that 1998 season... Damn.
Woodson's football exploits are of courses the foundation of my pick, but his Michigan connection does not hurt. My fellow BN editors have blogged a few times over the years on the kinship that we feel with the folks wearing the Maize and Blue. Our institutions are two of our nation's top public universities, with longstanding traditions of athletic excellence as well as rivals that wear red and have shaky histories in following the NCAA's rules.
I have run through my thoughts in coming up with the [non-Gary Beban division] Heisman Winner that I would have most liked to see as a Bruin. Now it is your turn. Which Heisman Winner would you pick to play for the Bruins?
This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.
EA SPORTS NCAA Football 13 TV: "Son" (via EASPORTS)