The Washington Times - December 14, 2008, 05:17PM

Is there a Heisman Trophy curse?

No, not for the players going forward in their pro careers. Some Heisman winners turned into guys who were among the top three at their position (Barry Sanders). Some are Hall of Famers (Tim Brown). Some were excellent, steady players who were great for a few seasons (Eddie George). Some simply never did anything at the pro level (Eric Crouch comes to mind).

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I’m more concerned about how a Heisman winner’s team fares in the ensuing game – whatever bowl game he happens to play in a month or so down the line from the selection announcement.

It’s especially interesting since Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, this year’s winner, will play for a national title with his Sooners teammates next month. So here’s a look at the last 20 Heisman winners whose teams finished in the top five of the final regular season AP poll:

YearWinner/SchoolRS rank
Bowl/OpponentResult
2006Troy Smith, Ohio St.
1BCS/FloridaL, 41-14
2005Reggie Bush, USC
1Rose/TexasL, 41-38
2004Matt Leinart, USC
1Orange/OklahomaW, 55-19
2003Jason White, Oklahoma 
3Sugar/LSUL, 21-14
2002Carson Palmer, USC
5Orange/IowaW, 38-17
2001Eric Crouch, Nebraska
4Rose/MiamiL, 37-14
2000Chris Weinke, Florida St. 
3Orange/OklahomaL, 13-2
1999Ron Dayne, Wisconsin
4Rose/StanfordW, 17-9
1997Charles Woodson, Michigan
1Rose/Washington St. 
W, 21-16
1996Danny Wuerffel, Florida
3Sugar/Florida State
W, 52-20
1995Eddie George, Ohio State
4Citrus/Tennessee
L, 20-14
1994Rashaan Salaam, Colorado
4Fiesta/Notre Dame
W, 41-24
1993Charlie Ward, Florida State
1Orange/NebraskaW, 18-16
1992Gino Toretta, Miami
1Sugar/AlabamaL, 34-13
1991Desmond Howard, Michigan
4Rose/WashingtonL, 34-14
1986Vinny Testaverde, Miami
1Fiesta/Penn State
L, 14-10
1983Mike Rozier, Nebraska
1Orange/MiamiL, 31-30
1982Herschel Walker, Georgia
1Sugar/Penn State
L, 27-23
1979Charles White, USC
3Rose/Ohio State
W, 17-16
1978Billy Sims, Oklahoma
4Orange/NebraskaW, 31-24

Conclusions?

A 9-11 record for Heisman winners says pretty much nothing. The fact that Bradford is the 16th winner in 18 seasons to come from a top-five team only speaks to the insipid reality the Heisman has become an award for the best player on a really, really good team.

As for a Heisman curse? It sure doesn’t look like it.

It is sort of interesting what the breakdown by ranking is:

No. 1: 3-6
No. 2: 0-0
No. 3: 2-2
No. 4: 3-3
No. 5: 1-0

That No. 1 spot is a bit of an albatross, but it really didn’t stop Matt Leinart and Charles Woodson, either.

One other oddball note. So far as I can tell, the last Heisman winner to come from a team that finished No. 2 in the country in the last regular-season AP poll was one Orenthal James Simpson in 1968. The last one who is not currently incarcerated? Navy’s Roger Staubach in 1963.

Patrick Stevens