This post, like my other recent entries on the subject of the Heisman Trophy, is sponsored by EA Sports. Today, we're talking about whether or not playing for South Carolina could hurt Marcus Lattimore in the Heisman race.
Heisman Pundit has hardly been mistake-free in recent years and should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, his commentary is a pretty good measure of how the award works. Here is one of his Heismandments that may apply to Lattimore:
7. If you are a quarterback, running back or multi-purpose athlete at one of the following schools, you have a good chance to win if you have a very good statistical season, are an upperclassmen and your team wins at least 9 games: Notre Dame, USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan, Miami, Florida and Florida State.
These 10 schools have won 16 of the previous 19 Heismans and nine of the last 10.
The point here is in part that these schools have produced some great players over the years, but it's partially that these are the schools that enjoy the most limelight in the media. The Heisman is a media-driven award that is voted on by members of the press, so it stands to reason that stars at such schools have a leg up on the competition. At South Carolina, Lattimore is not playing for a traditional power. Will that handicap him, even if he has a great season?
Perhaps not. First of all, here's another Heismandment:
5. The winner must be one or more of the following three:
a. The top player on a national title contender.
b. A player who puts up good numbers for a traditional power that has a good record.
c. A player who puts up superlative single-season or career numbers on a good team, or numbers that are way out ahead of his Heisman competitors.
South Carolina should have a good team this year. It remains to be seen whether or not that we'll be a national title contender, but if we are, and Lattimore is a big part of our success, he could fall into category "a" here. He could also end up in category "c," although I see that as being somewhat unlikely. With a deep stable of backs, we'll likely platoon a bit, and that may keep Lattimore from having an unreal statistical season. It won't keep him from having a very good one, but perhaps from having one where he runs for over 2000 yards and has 25 TDs or something like that.
Keep reading after the jump.
It's also worth noting that many of the "exceptions" that HP has added to his Heismandments are responses to recent winners. At one time, it was unheard of for a sophomore to win the trophy, but multiple sophomores have won it in recent years. At one time, you could have never imagined a player from Baylor winning it, but that happened last year. The award, which once conformed fairly strictly to HP's theories, is evolving. On the subject of players from non-name-brand schools winning the award (like RGIII last year), a lot of that probably has to do with the fact that there's simply much more college football on TV now than there used to be. One of the reasons that players from the name-brand schools enjoyed an advantage in the past was because they were sure to get more television exposure than other players. These days, South Carolina gets massive amounts of television exposure. Almost all of our SEC games are on national television. The same was true for Baylor last year. That's helped great players from such schools get the attention they deserve.
Lastly, it might not be as bad to be competing from South Carolina as some might think. If you haven't done so, take a look at this article, which groups programs into a hierarchy of prestige. It places us in the "upper-middle class" category, below elite programs like Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, etc., but above the rest. Perhaps some skepticism is warranted towards that ranking; after all, we've really only been playing at the level of top-flight SEC competition for two years now. Still, the fact that the writer put us there in the first place attests to the fact that the perception of USC football is changing. Lattimore will be playing for what's recognized as a serious program in the SEC. That will help his candidacy for the award.
Of course, all of this is dependent upon Lattimore getting back up to speed, having a great year, and Carolina winning some football games. If that happens, I think he has a legitimate chance at the award. It may also help him that he can take advantage of the "miraculously back from injury" card during his campaign.
This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.
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