Joey Harrington Finishes Fourth In Heisman Balloting
Dec. 8, 2001
NEW YORK - Eric Crouch almost quit the team, now the Nebraska quarterback is the Heisman Trophy winner in one of the most unpredictable races in the history of the award.
Crouch, who briefly left the team three years ago when he lost the starting job, capped a sensational career by keeping the Huskers in the national title race all season. A 62-36 loss to Colorado two weeks ago ended Nebraska's run at a perfect season.
Crouch won the award Saturday night, beating out Florida quarterback Rex Grossman.
Crouch, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior from Omaha, Neb., ran for 1,115 yards and 18 touchdowns, passed for 1,510 yards and seven scores and even caught a 63-yard TD pass in a big win over Oklahoma. He's one of only three major college quarterbacks to run for 3,000 yards and pass for 4,000 yards in a career.
Grossman was second, with Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey third and Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington fourth in the fourth-closest race in the Heisman's 67-year history.
In winning college football's ultimate individual prize, Crouch edged Grossman by 62 points, 770-708. Dorsey was next with 638 points and Harrington had 364 points in the balloting. The winning point total was the smallest since Oregon State's Terry Baker won in 1962.
The Heisman ceremony was held at a midtown hotel, the first time it's been away from the Downtown Athletic Club. The club was damaged in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The closest Heisman vote was Bo Jackson's 45-point victory over Chuck Long in 1985. Other than the first Heisman, when there were just 65 voters, the tightest three-man race was a 93-point margin in 1956, when Paul Hornung won over Johnny Majors and Tom McDonald.
Voters list three choices on their ballots, and players are awarded 3 points for first place, 2 for second and 1 for third.
Crouch, the first true option quarterback to win the award, had 162 first-place votes, 98 second-place votes and 88 third-place votes.
Grossman, who passed for 3,896 yards and 34 touchdowns, had 137 first-place votes, 105 for second and 87 for third.
Dorsey, who led Miami to an 11-0 record and a spot in the national title game, had 109 first-place votes, 122 for second and 67 for third.
Harrington, who threw for 2,414 yards and 23 TDs in leading the Ducks (10-1) to the Pac-10 title and the best regular-season record in school history, had 54 first-place votes, 68 for second and 66 for third.
With the race wide open the past two weeks, voters were looking for one of the four finalists to produce a breakout game. It never happened. Nebraska and Florida lost, and Miami and Oregon won close games. In the end, Crouch's season won out.
Fresno State quarterback David Carr was fifth, followed by Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El, Oklahoma safety Roy Williams, Miami left tackle Bryant McKinnie, Syracuse defensive end Dwight Freeney and North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers.
A regional voting breakdown had Crouch winning only the Southwest, with Grossman taking the Mid-Atlantic and South, Dorsey the Northeast and Harrington the Far West.
In 1999, after Crouch started five games for the injured Bobby Newcombe, coach Frank Solich went back to Newcombe. Crouch was crushed. He got in his car, drove home and considered leaving the team.
But Solich drove to Omaha, too. The coach convinced him to return, and three games into the season Newcombe was benched for ineffectiveness and Crouch was calling signals again.
Great move, coach. Crouch is 35-6 as a starter and led the nation's top rushing offense with a knack for breaking big runs and hitting key passes. Crouch completed 55.6 percent of his passes, but critics saw more interceptions (10) than TD passes (7).
Even though he had surgery twice on his right throwing shoulder, he never missed a snap due to injury in his final three seasons.
He says he admires the other finalists for being able to throw, throw and throw some more, but, 'I definitely came to Nebraska to run the option, not to throw for 3,000 or 4,000 yards. Don't get me wrong, that would be great. But that's not what we do here at Nebraska.'
The 23-year-old Crouch, who has a 2-year old daughter with his fiance, Nikki, is the third Heisman winner from Nebraska, but the first quarterback. Running back Mike Rozier won in 1983 and wingback Johnny Rodgers in 1972.
Unlike some of the top Nebraska quarterbacks before him, Crouch was the main man in crucial situations. Tommie Frazier, for example, had star I-backs Ahman Green and then Lawrence Phillips from 1992-95. And in the early '80s, Turner Gill had Roger Craig and then Rozier and All-American receiver Irving Fryar.
This year's Huskers ran for 314.7 yards per game, with I-back Dahrran Diedrick producing a 1,000-yard season. But when a game was on the line, Crouch came through.
'We literally put the ball in hands to win football games, and he has responded,' Solich said.
Even in the loss to Colorado, Crouch rallied the Huskers from a 32-point deficit within 12 points late in the third quarter, and wound up with a school-record 360 total yards.
While Grossman put up awesome numbers, Dorsey's team didn't lose and Harrington led the Ducks to 10 wins, it was Crouch who convinced the voters he had the best Heisman-winning combination.
'There is no question in my mind that Eric Crouch is the best athlete in college football today,' Solich says. 'You ask anybody that's played against him and they will tell you the same thing: They'd rather play against anybody else in the country than Eric Crouch.'
In a year when there was never really a true favorite, the four finalists took turns topping the weekly Heisman polls.
Grossman kept breaking records and topped 300 yards passing in 10 of 11 games, Dorsey was solid but unspectacular, and Harrington pulled out three games in the fourth quarter as the Ducks won the Pac-10 title.
'It's kind of been an up in the air type of thing all year long,' Crouch said.
It's not anymore.
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer
2. Rex Grossman, QB, Florida
3. Ken Dorsey, QB, Miami
4. Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon
1935 - Jay Berwanger, Chicago, HB
1936 - Larry Kelley, Yale, E
1937 - Clint Frank, Yale, HB
1938 - Davey O'Brien, Texas Christian, QB
1939 - Nile Kinnick, Iowa, HB
1940 - Tom Harmon, Michigan, HB
1941 - Bruce Smith, Minnesota, HB
1942 - Frank Sinkwich, Georgia, HB
1943 - Angelo Bertelli, Notre Dame, QB
1944 - Les Horvath, Ohio State, QB
1945 - Doc Blanchard, Army, HB
1946 - Glenn Davis, Army, HB
1947 - John Lujack, Notre Dame, QB
1948 - Doak Walker, SMU, HB
1949 - Leon Hart, Notre Dame, E
1950 - Vic Janowicz, Ohio State, HB
1951 - Dick Kazmaier, Princeton, HB
1952 - Billy Vessels, Oklahoma, HB
1953 - John Lattner, Notre Dame, HB
1954 - Alan Ameche, Wisconsin, FB
1955 - Howard Cassady, Ohio State, HB
1956 - Paul Hornung, Notre Dame, QB
1957 - John David Crow, Texas A&M, HB
1958 - Pete Dawkins, Army, HB
1959 - Billy Cannon, LSU, HB
1960 - Joe Bellino, Navy, HB
1961 - Ernie Davis, Syracuse, HB
1962 - Terry Baker, Oregon State, QB
1963 - Roger Staubach, Navy, QB
1964 - John Huarte, Notre Dame, QB
1965 - Mike Garrett, Southern California, TB
1966 - Steve Spurrier, Florida, QB
1967 - Gary Beban, UCLA, QB
1968 - O.J. Simpson, Southern California, TB
1969 - Steve Owens, Oklahoma, HB
1970 - Jim Plunkett, Stanford, QB
1971 - Pat Sullivan, Auburn, QB
1972 - Johnny Rodgers, Nebraska, FL
1973 - John Cappelletti, Penn State, HB
1974 - Archie Griffin, Ohio State, HB
1975 - Archie Griffin, Ohio State, HB
1976 - Tony Dorsett, Pittsburgh, HB
1977 - Earl Campbell, Texas, FB
1978 - Billy Sims, Oklahoma, HB
1979 - Charles White, Southern California, TB
1980 - George Rogers, South Carolina, HB
1981 - Marcus Allen, Southern California, TB
1982 - Herschel Walker, Georgia, HB
1983 - Mike Rozier, Nebraska, TB
1984 - Doug Flutie, Boston College, QB
1985 - Bo Jackson, Auburn, TB
1986 - Vinny Testaverde, Miami, QB
1987 - Tim Brown, Notre Dame, WR
1988 - Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, RB
1989 - Andre Ware, Houston, QB
1990 - Ty Detmer, Brigham Young, QB
1991 - Desmond Howard, Michigan, WR
1992 - Gino Torretta, Miami, QB
1993 - Charlie Ward, Florida State, QB
1994 - Rashaan Salaam, Colorado, RB
1995 - Eddie George, Ohio St., TB
1996 - Danny Wuerffel, Florida, QB
1997 - Charles Woodson, Michigan, CB
1998 - Ricky Williams, Texas, RB
1999 - Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, RB
2000 - Chris Weinke, Florida St., QB
2001 - Eric Crouch, Nebraska, QB
1935 - Jay Berwanger, Chicago, HB