Heisman winners have largely fared well


Published: Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The banquets are long over, the speeches spoken and the reality of playing a football game has enveloped Troy Smith.

"The media's back so the game must be near," Smith said Wednesday.

The myth is back, too.

The Heisman jinx myth.

Whether it's a myth or a cliche, it's an overused assumption that the winner of the Heisman Trophy stinks it up in bowl games.

Remember Danny Wuerffel? He had a pretty good Sugar Bowl. Matt Leinart? Charles Woodson helped his team win a national title. Ricky Williams and Ron Dayne each rushed for more than 200 yards.

The fact is that in the last 11 seasons, only three Heisman winners really struggled in bowl games — Oklahoma's Jason White in the 2004 Sugar, Nebraska's Eric Crouch in the '02 Rose where the Cornhuskers were overmatched against Miami, and Florida State's Chris Weinke in the '01 Orange Bowl when his best receiver was suspended and his offensive coordinator had his bags packed for the head coaching job at Georgia.

Because those three collapses all came in this decade, the myth lives.

So Smith was asked the question about whether or not he was worried about the dreaded Heisman jinx.

"No," he said. "It's an excuse and it's a cop-out because if you focus in and you're able to take all your time and enjoy your time with your teammates and really get ready for a game, I don't think it should be a problem.

"I can't speak for someone else. I can only speak for myself. We prepare everyone the same way. If you're a Nagurski winner, play like a Nagurski winner. If you're a Hesiman winner, you have to play like a Heisman winner. You play within yourself. Playing within yourself is what got you the recognition."

Smith said he didn't gain and weight from the awards banquets or lose any of his passion because of the grind.

"The only think that upset me was that I was away from my teammates," he said.

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