So the first Heisman Campaign for the 2010 season is officially underway with Christian Ponder and Florida State launching this past Wednesday. First thoughts on the website are this thing is absolutely fantastic. Granted the playlist was a little weak; not due to the presence of "Chicken Fried" or "Love Your Love the Most", as lame as it is I actually like those songs, sort of, kind of, a little.
With the campaign comes the haters as folks have taken the time to call Ponder's campaign and media push a "waste of money"as well as to just call the site "stupid" for merely existing.
I completely disagree, but I also don't look at these sites as existing for the sole purpose of winning the Heisman. When folks put that "if it doesn't win then it is a failure" tag upon the scenario I must admit that they're likely correct. However, when looking at the big picture there is so much more to a Heisman campaign than just winning the award.
Spare me the "look at Joey Harrington, he only finished fourth" as well as the "CJ Spiller didn't win it" talk because if you're thinking in those basic, black and white terms then you're missing the point of how these campaigns benefit both the players and the schools.
For the sake of full disclosure before I explain my enthusiasm for Heisman campaigns I'll admit that I'm an advertising guy. I want products and people that I'm in favor of sold hard, repeatedly and sold well. "Well" is the operative word here because just shoving a player down your throat leads to resentment and we all experienced that atlast night's LeBron-athon.
Perhaps I'm in the minority but everytime I see a "Heisman Campaign" launched I don't instantly think "will he or won't he win the award" based upon the strength of his campaign flyers, posters, postcards, website or media tours.
As Josh Parcell over at ACC Mania points out there is a formula to winning the Heisman and I think we can all agree that team profile, team record, performance on television, statistics and position play the most impactful role in winning the Heisman. No one is winning a stiff arming trophy with flashy newsletters.
No, you won't win the Heisman but what you do is start the beauty pageant early. Florida State and Washington might not have Heisman-winning records this season but they're building a buzz around their programs that is only intensified by fans thinking Heisman for their best player. Instead of "watch Florida State and quarterback Christian Ponder take on Oklahoma on September eleventh" you'll hear "watch Florida State and Heisman hopeful Christian Ponder take on Oklahoma."
It has a nice ring to it. As it does every single time Ponder does a preseason radio, tv or magazine interview as "Heisman Hopeful" instead of just "Florida State Quarterback." That's what I love about the Heisman campaigns the added cache they give to a player who is poised to have a tremendous season.
The campaigns build a sense of goodwill a sense of pride and give folks' hope for the season an added boost. Clemson fans were juiced for what should have been an ACC championship season a year ago, that fire was fueled by CJ Spiller's campaign excitement. Entering the season with an unknown at quarterback and a new fulltime head coach the Tigers fans tied their hopes to Spiller and the added spark of Heisman hopeful made looking forward to the season sweeter.
Enter Florida State and Christian Ponder on this season's landscape. The Noles are coming off a 7-6 season where their defense finished 108th on the year, they've replaced much of the coaching staff AND they're hitting the streets with a new, first time, Head Coach in Jimbo Fisher. This Christian Ponder for Heisman campaign is as much about giving Noles' fans something concrete to look forward to as selling their star to the masses.
Much like CJ Spiller, Ponder's team may not have the season required to win the Heisman, however if he gets invited to New York, is mentioned routinely in weekly Heisman watches and is putting up large numbers for new coach Jimbo Fisher this move by the Noles should be counted as a win. It is a win in recruiting, a win in publicity, a win in building fan goodwill and a win in resurrecting a program that has gone a decade since their big time quarterback.
You better believe if my Tar Heels had a viable Heisman candidate I'd be pushing him all over the interwebs. That being said, I will gladly say that the Butkus, Thorpe and Nagurski will all be in Chapel Hill come season's end.
Enjoy your Heisman campaigns folks, it means you've got a player to watch and be happy about. Next week the previews start rolling out.