Heisman: "Most valuable" or "Most outstanding?" 

December, 10, 2009

With bowl season upon us, we're going to trot out some new elements in the blog. (Can't do normal Thursday picks with only Army vs. Navy out there for Saturday, right?) Today marks the debut of The Argument; the plan is to get two experts -- both inside and outside the world of college football -- to weigh in on a key topic each week. To debut it, I wanted to tackle the concept of whether the Heisman trophy voting criteria should be the "most valuable" player or the "most outstanding" player.

Up first is Wendell Barnhouse, a correspondent for Big12sports.com. Barnhouse has been a Heisman voter for the past 10 years and has covered college football for almost two decades.

Barnhouse's Take

The Heisman Trophy award defines itself as going to the "most outstanding college football player." That 11-letter word -- outstanding -- is like defining art. It's in the eye of the beholder; or the voter, in this case.

Giving the Heisman to a most valuable player (or, the best player on the best team) is one way to parse the vote. That doesn't mean that every undefeated or championship contender has a Heisman candidate. But a Heisman candidate needs to come from a team that has lost no more than two games. And that candidate needs to be, in Reggie Jackson's words, "The straw that stirs the drink."