PALO ALTO, Calif. (Scott Reiss/KTVU) - Bryce Love – the most explosive player in the nation – and deservedly, a Heisman finalist.
“I’m definitely excited for it. It’s an honor.”
An eerily familar honor for Stanford football.
“In the last eight years,’ notes Cardinal head coach David Shaw, “Four times we’ve had a player who is in the discussion for best player in the nation.”
As it turned out, all four “discussions” ended the same way. Mark Ingram, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Derrick Henry earned their Heisman hurrahs at the expense of Stanford stars Toby Gerhart, Andrew Luck – twice – and Christian McCaffrey, ALL of whom finished second in the balloting. Talk about “always a brides’ maid.”
Incredibly, that trend is about to continue.
Heisman pundits are certain thatLove will finish – you guessed it – second, to Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Which will make FIVE “Stanford runners up” in nine years.
So close, so often. Precious few in sports history can relate.
The Buffalo Bills – losing 4 straight Super Bowls.
The German national soccer team – World Cup runners-up a record four times.
And then there was poor Harold “Jug” McSpaden, pro golfer who finished second in THIRTEEN tournaments in 1945.
What are the odds?
Well, in Stanford’s case, it’s not an exact calculation. But the odds of producing a Heisman finalist five times in nine years AND having that player finish second every time are about 1 in 11.87 million.
Yet, here we are.
“Just being able to say that you’re mentioned as one of the best players in college football that year,” notes Shaw, “Whether or not everybody says you’re the best or not, being in that discussion is truly special.”
Fair enough. Just being a Heisman finalist IS a tremendous honor. Though that won’t make “Jug” feel any better.
As for Bryce, maybe he’ll prove the pundits wrong. But if he doesn’t, perhaps the Heisman Trust should bestow a second annual award - paying appropriate tribute to the best of the rest.