Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

The Heisman Trophy …


… is a joke.

It really is—and I’ve long thought so. Oh, go ahead and watch the broadcast. They’ll woo you in with the music and the tradition; the lineup of past winners discussing the “family” of Heisman honorees. Billy Sims. Earl Campbell. Archie Griffin. Billy Vergantino. Troy Smith. Reggie Bush. Mike Rozier. Gino Torretta. Rashaan Salaam. So on and so on.

But, really, it’s a joke. A bunch of media people—the majority of whom have seen one or two candidates up close, the others in video highlights—decide who the nation’s best college football player is. Only he has to come from a big school. And be on TV a lot. And play quarterback or running back or wide receiver.

From this vantage point, the most egregious selection came in 1985, when Bo Jackson of Auburn had what was generally considered to be a merely very good year—but won. And the man who should have taken home the trophy, a running back from Division III Plymouth State named Joe Dudek, placed ninth—behind Jackson, Chuck Long, Robbie Bosco, Lorenzo White, Vinny Testaverde, Jim Everett, Napolean McCallum and Allen Pinkett. Was Dudek the most-talented played that year? Certainly not. But in 1985, he was the best collegiate gridder in America. His most famous record is the NCAA mark for career running touchdowns with 76. But he also set the NCAA record for games with two or more touchdowns (24), and ran for an insane 5,570 rushing yards.

So who should win this year? I have no idea. But if I had a vote, it’d be for this guy.

Because his last name is sorta funny.