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:

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