NORMAN — Hard to remember, but the Heisman Trophy once was the domain of tailbacks.
Thirty-four of the first 49 winners were runners. Twelve straight tailback winners from 1972-83. Eleven of 12 from 1950-61.
Even not so very long ago, 1994-99, just one quarterback won in a six-year span.
Heck, just look at Mr. Heisman himself. The trophy is in running mode; the Heisman pose has no room for a pass.
But the century turned. The game changed. Quarterbacks became the stars.
Nowhere is that more evident than in the Big 12 Conference. Nowhere is that more evident than Saturday night on Owen Field.
Cutting-edge football has come to the Big 12 thanks to Pyrotechnic quarterbacks, and the two most prolific battle Saturday in the shootout of the year and many others.
OU’s Sam Bradford and Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell.
A game possibly for the national championship. A game possibly for the most prized trophy in sport.
These quarterbacks’ numbers are kooky.
Bradford: 38 touchdown passes; 3,406 yards; 68 percent completion; only six picks.
Harrell: 36 TD passes; 4,077 yards; 72 percent completion; only eight interceptions.
And here’s the crazy part. In Big 12 football 2008, Harrell ranks only fifth
in passing efficiency. I don’t know how to be much more efficient than 407.7 yards per game, 3.6 TDs per game and 72 percent completions.
But Bradford, Oklahoma State’s Zac Robinson, Texas’ Colt McCoy and Missouri’s Chase Daniel are, according to the time-honored passer rating used by the NCAA.
In the last 10 years, seven Big 12 quarterbacks have finished in the top four of Heisman voting, including winners Eric Crouch (Nebraska 2001) and Jason White (OU 2003).
Kansas State’s Michael Bishop placed second in 1998, OU’s Josh Heupel placed second in 2000, White was third in 2004, Texas’ Vince Young was second in 2005 and Missouri’s Daniel was fourth in 2007.
Now here comes a very special night in November 2008, with the possibility of a Heisman Trophy and a Big 12 title and a Big Bowl berth all rolled into one big showdown on Owen Field.
405-760-8080. Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.