Without trying to go too fourth grade research paper on you, the Heisman Trophy has a pretty cut-and-dry mission: “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. The winners of the trophy epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.”
Now, without trying to go too curmudgeonly on all of you, everyone knows this hasn’t necessarily been the case in recent years. The Heisman Trophy is an award for the college football player who generates the most excitement over the course of a season, and usually, that means it’s going to be won by a quarterback. You know the stats by now: Since 2015, 15 of the 18 Heisman winners have been quarterbacks, with the remaining three either being running backs in a year where there was no perceived great quarterback (Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry), or Reggie Bush (Reggie Bush).
This also means that it’s nearly impossible to win the award as a defensive player, which stinks, because the best player in college football is Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver. There are a ton of great defensive linemen this season, but no one can really touch Oliver, who can do just about anything. Here, watch him cook.
You should not be able to mix being that fast with being that strong, and yet Oliver does that as well as anyone we’ve seen at the position. Sure, he gets to go up against Group of 5 competition, but throughout his career, when he’s been on the field against Power 5 squads, he’s done the job, too — his first game in college was against Oklahoma in which he recorded seven tackles and sacked Baker Mayfield twice in a win.
The gospel of Ed Oliver cannot be spread enough, because he likely has no chance at winning the Heisman despite being the best player in the sport. It’s kind of like Ndamukong Suh not winning in 2009 (he should retroactively be given the Heisman, with all due respect to Ingram), but alas, this is just how football works.
The good news is I feel a moral obligation to keep him on this list every week as long as he plays. As for how the rest of it shakes out, well, read on.