Originally posted on The Duck Stops Here  |  Last updated 9/8/13
Heisman campaigns have changed. Used to be, Sports Information Directors would send out glowing press releases, life-size cutouts and odd knicknacks that wouldn't fit on a desk. Notre Dame changed Joe Theisman's name. The family pronounced it THEES-man, but the athletic department office quickly encouraged him to adapt it to rhyme with a certain bronzed trophy. Theisman didn't win though. Lost in 1970 to Jim Plunkett, who had a better season and a better back story. No fake girlfriends, but both of Plunkett's parents were legally blind. In the age of ESPN and Fox Sports 1 everything is different.  Heisman campaigns, such as they are, are much more organic, raised in the compost of 24-hour college football channels and highlight shows, with the stats and great plays shown to viewing audiences 5-10 times before the NFL takes the field on Sunday. The last three Heisman winners, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton, didn't need an overt Heisman campaign. None of them were among the preseason favorites for the award. In fact, all three were relative unknowns when the season began, and built momentum for their trip to New York with fabulous play in September that just kept getting better. They amassed numbers and rolled to big wins, and by November of their respective trophy-winning seasons the unlikely hero seemed inevitable. Manziel was a redshirt freshman, not even a sure starter before the year began. Newton was a junior college transfer and one-year wonder, who languished behind Tim Tebow at Florida and left for a JC, landed at Auburn after a notorious bidding war. Last years Heisman race was marred by the weird unraveling story of Manti Te'o and his imaginary girlfriend. It really isn't necessary for a Heisman hopeful to have a heartwarming Jim-Grey-at-the-Olympics story of adversity and heartbreak. What's most important are good stats for a contending team in a major conference, and playing running back or quarterback for a glamor school. Chris Huston, who writes the website heismanpundit.com spells it out much more specifically on his site. He has a permanent post called "The Ten Heismandments" which spells out how the Heisman is won, based on solid research over the last 40 years of the award. Prominent among Huston's Heisman principles is "the player must be likable." Each region of the country has 145 Heisman voters, chosen among writers and experts on college football, plus all the previous trophy winners have a ballot. Heisman voters jealously guard the reputation of the award and its hallowed place in college football lore. Winners have to embody their ideal of the student-athlete and the appearance of character and personal appeal.  With the coverage college football gets now they have to have the numbers, but they also have to have big plays in big games and big games on TV. It helps to have what Huston calls a "Heisman moment," a play that stands out with excitement and flair. Which brings the discussion to Marcus Mariota and De'Anthony Thomas. Both are legitimate Heisman candidates. They've accumulated good stats for the #2 team in the country. Each of them are on Heisman watch lists and straw ballots and on the cover of preseason magazines and mentioned as possible All-Americans. Every one of their games this year will be on television, and at least four of them will be marquee games that will provide the proper stage for a shining Heisman moment. The Ducks will play Tennessee on ABC next week. They'll gain a big audience for their October 12th game in Seattle versus the Huskies, the home game against UCLA, and the rematch against Stanford. Arizona looks to be a good team this year; they could emerge in the crowded PAC-12 South, and that game, November 23rd in the desert, will be a showdown of high-powered offenses. The Civil War this year is on Friday, nationally in prime time on Fox Sports 1. A potential PAC-12 championship berth, if the Ducks earn one is another big stage, just a few days before ballots are due. After two games, both Mariota and Thomas are on track to compete for a big role in the Heisman race. Neither is focused on it. But in Huston's straw poll last week, The Flyin' Hawaiian was third:   Total points, (with first-place votes in parentheses) 1. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson -- 16 (3) 2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville -- 10 (2)  3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon -- 8 (2)  Keep in mind, these aren't the subjective opinions of fan bloggers, message board experts or armchair analysts, this is a poll of actual Heisman voters, a representative sample. Thomas is further down the list, but after scooting for 252 yards and 5 touchdowns in the first two weeks, the speedy all-purpose back is positioned to make a Heisman run if he continues to be productive. He's an especially intriguing candidate because he has the "wow" factor, the ability to make plays and moves that hardly anyone else in the game can duplicate. His 40-yard touchdown run in today's win over Virginia, tight-roping the sideline, outrunning three defenders who thought they had angles, is an example of how amazing and elusive he is, and how exciting.  As for Mariota, some Oregon fans are in a dither about his pass accuracy numbers and supposed regression, but that isn't remotely relevant to the Heisman discussion. He's winning. He's putting up decent stats, accounting for 6 touchdowns while passing for 433 yards and rushing for 235, going over 100 yards in both games.  While fans dissect every read option and incomplete pass, this is what Heisman voters will see regarding Mariota this week: the headline. Nationally, it reads,  De'Anthony Thomas, Marcus Mariota spark No. 2 Oregon's rout They'll see the ESPN highlights and read the paper, which will tell them he accounted for 310 yards and three tds in a 59-10 win. Heisman voters are big-picture people. Mariota will have better game as the season progresses. In one three-game stretch last year he had a 230 passer rating, 12 tds, and completed 80% of his passes. The highlight film runs help his case also, and he's already had two this year, tds of 71 and 46 yards. Bridgewater and Boyd remain formidable candidates. Boyd led his team to a big, high-profile win over Georgia in week one. Bridgewater throws a beautiful ball, and he'll amass stats. His Louisville squad, 8th in the country right now, doesn't play a ranked team all season. He'll feast on the All-American Conference, and in games like Florida International and Temple he could practically name his number. A Heisman would be huge for Oregon.  It's one of the benchmarks of success that's so far eluded them, and it's a great recruiting tool. When Thomas was named the Sports Illustrated High School Player of the Week as a senior, he listed winning a Heisman as one of his goals. Players like him don't go to a school unless they feel they can achieve their goals there. Oregon is a hot, jazzy team among high school recruits, and landing that first Heisman and/or National Championship would turn that hotness up to 11.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

This is the Gonzaga we’ve been waiting for

Jets won’t rule out selecting another QB in 2017 NFL Draft

Rougned Odor threw a cup of water into Felix Hernandez’s face on the field

Michael Irvin rips Texans for not trading for Tony Romo

Richard Sherman on trade talk: ‘I just laugh it off, man’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Grumpy writer complains about 'SI for Kids' reporter

Report: Archie Miller closing in on seven-year deal to coach Indiana

Alex Rodriguez said he 'made an ass of' himself denying PED allegations

LaVar Ball finally got what he deserved

Adrian Peterson makes statement, says it is ‘not all about the money’

WATCH: Florida's Chiozza sends Wisconsin home on incredible buzzer-beater

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Box Score 3/24: Waiting on West Virginia

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

With Team USA's victory, World Baseball Classic (finally) lived up to its potential

The NFL distraction playbook

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Box Score 3/23: Team USA wins their first WBC title

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

The NFL distraction playbook

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker