Guest Author - Mona McKenzie
University of Alabama sophomore running back Mark Ingram was named the 75th Heisman Trophy winner. Surprisingly, he is the first winner ever from Alabama, a perennial college football powerhouse. Ingram is the third sophomore to win the award in as many years and only the second running back selected this decade. The other winners this millennium were all quarterbacks. This year's Heisman finalists were Ingram; running back Toby Gerhart of Stanford University; quarterback Colt McCoy from Texas; defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh from Nebraska; and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner quarterback Tim Tebow of Florida.
I was touched by the geniune emotion Ingram displayed at New York City's Nokia Theatre. He actually shed tears of joy and I was happy to see it. We live in a society that often condemns men and boys for crying, which is ludicrous. The last time I checked, men are human and thus have the capacity to show emotion, including crying. In my book, doing so doesn't make those with the "Y" chromosome less of a man. Anyway, after Ingram hugged his mom and composed himself, he finished strong and gave a nice acceptance speech. He was humble and definitely recognized he could not have broken the Alabama single-season rushing record alone and appropriately thanked his coaches, teammates, and all those who helped him along the way.
Upon review of this decade's winners, it's notable that many of the quarterbacks selected haven't really fared well in the professional ranks, unlike the players who came in second place, and could fall into the "Heisman Jinx" category. For example, 2001 winner quarterback Eric Crouch of Nebraska was a straight-up bust. Runner-up quarterback Rex Grossman from Florida led the Bears to a Super Bowl, but, never actually became a full-fledged franchise quarterback. Maybe that wasn't such a great example. Let's try this again...the 2003 winner, quarterback Jason White of Oklahoma, never even played a down of NFL football in either the preseason or regular season. Runner-up wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald from Pitt is having a phenomenal career with the Arizona Cardinals. 2004 winner quarterback Matt Leinart of USC holds the Cardinals' clipboard, since they prefer to start old-timer Kurt Warner. On the other hand, runner-up running back Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma is running "All Day" on his opponents and is on his way to another Pro Bowl and possibly his first Super Bowl with the Minnesota Vikings.
It will be interesting to see if there is such a thing as a Heisman Jinx for the past three sophomore winners. So far, Tim Tebow has not been able to reclaim the Heisman Trophy and is on his way to the NFL. Many football pundits believe that Tebow won't be drafted as a quarterback, so, his football career may have some interesting developments along the way. Last year's winner, quarterback Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, was sidelined most of the year due to an injury and will likely turn pro. Mark Ingram will probably make a decision regarding an early exit after his BCS National Championship game against Texas. No matter what his decision is, let's hope Mark Ingram basks in the joy of knowing he was the top college football player of 2009.