Third Installment in the Series
College Football Top Non Heismans: Peyton Manning 1997
College Football Top Non Heismans: Jim Brown 1956
It is difficult to judge what matters most to the collective Heisman voters. Do they simply pick the best major college football player or do certain voters regard the Heisman as an M.V.P. of sorts, giving major consideration to a candidate’s teams performance. When looking back at the 2000 Heisman voting, not enough consideration was given to the individual brilliance of Drew Brees leading Purdue to the Big Ten championship. Eventual winner Chris Weinke, quarterbacked Florida State to the B.C.S. National Championship Game (Orange Bowl, January 3rd, 2001) and led the nation in passing yards, but much of his success was the result of the talent around him.
Weinke put up a statistically overpowering year in 2000, but he had the benefit of controlling an offense that sent at least six skill players to the N.F.L., including Anquan Boldin and Javon Walker. The Seminole quarterback lost his most visible regular season game 27-24 to arch rival Miami in the Wide Right III game. Though F.S.U. dropped the contest, Weinke’s role in the fourth quarter comeback cemented his role as the Heisman leader. Weinke cemented the award when he beat Rex Grossman and Florida in November. However, Weinke often put up big numbers with Bobby Bowden keeping his foot on the pedal late in games already decided.
The Purdue Boilermakers have a rich football tradition that includes Hall of Famers Bob Griese and Lenny Dawson, but nobody confuses Purdue with Florida State. Drew Brees led Purdue to an eight win, four loss season capped off by an appearance in the Rose Bowl, throwing to possession receivers Vinny Sutherland and John Standeford. Brees responded to an early season defeat against Notre Dame with a magical October which should have catapulted him into Heisman contention. Playing brilliantly, Brees threw for 286 yards and three scores in a win against a #6 Michigan team. The following week Purdue beat their second ranked opponent, #17 Northwestern, with Brees tossing five TD’s. To cap off October, Brees and the Boilermakers beat #12 Ohio State in a back and forth thriller won on a long TD pass with under two minutes to go. In the contests against Michigan and Ohio State, Brees led a less talented team to inspirational victories, he was the best player on the field in games against nationally ranked power programs.
Chris Weinke enjoyed a superb season as a 28 year old senior in 2000. He led the nation in passing and the Seminoles to the National Championship Game. However, it was obvious watching Florida State that season he wasn’t the most talented player on the field, more like a conductor with great pieces. Drew Brees was the best player on an overachieving team that climbed to the #13 spot in the final polls, Anybody who remembers Brent Musberger’s “Touchdown Purdue, Seth Morales, Holy Toledo” call against Ohio State will agree that Drew Brees was the best college football player in 2000.