College Football's Best Heisman Campaigns
Baylor's promotion of Robert Griffin in 2011 is one of the best Heisman promotions in recent years.
By: Steven Lassan | 12/6/12, 5:14 AM EST
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M1 of 18
Like politicians, college football athletes and their universities also campaign to grab votes. Since the Heisman is awarded this Saturday, we thought we'd look back as some of our favorite campaigns to take home the coveted trophy.
Combine one of the best video games (Tecmo Bowl) with a dynamic quarterback like Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and you have an instant hit. As a freshman, Manziel set the SEC record for total offense in a season and led the Aggies to a 10-2 record in 2012.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State2 of 18
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was one of college football's toughest players during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Klein was a workhorse for the Wildcats' offense, as he recorded back-to-back years of at least 3,000 yards of total offense. To help promote Klein for the Heisman Trophy, Kansas State mailed band-aid tins to the media. The band-aid tins were a play on Klein's bumps and bruises throughout his career and it was no surprise to see No. 7 with a few bandages on his elbows during the game.
Ty Detmer, QB, BYU3 of 18
One of the best Heisman promotions comes from BYU in 1990. The school promoted quarterback Ty Detmer as a Heisman candidate in 1990 by giving out a "Heisman Ty" to fans at the BYU-Miami contest in early September. Detmer edged Notre Dame's Rocket Ismail for the Heisman in 1990 and finished third in 1991. (Photo courtesy of BYU Athletics)
Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri4 of 18
After finishing fourth in the 2007 Heisman voting, Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel was considered one of the frontrunners to win it in 2008. A viewfinder was used to promote Daniel, but he failed to finish in the top 10 of Heisman voting.
Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern5 of 18
A slow recovery from a torn Achilles ended any hopes Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa had of winning the Heisman Trophy in 2011. Persa did not play in the season's first three games and finished with 2,376 passing yards and 17 touchdowns.
Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall6 of 18
Marshall was one of college football's most successful teams in the 1990s and 2000s, as the school had three Heisman contenders and recorded 11 double-digit win seasons between 1991 and 2002. The school promoted quarterback Byron Leftwich with a bobblehead, and the Washington, D.C. natived finished sixth in voting in 2002.
Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers7 of 18
Ray Rice compiled an impressive career at Rutgers, recording 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons, while leading the Scarlet Knights to three consecutive bowl appearances. To help promote Rice's Heisman campaign, Rutgers started a "See Ray Run" campaign, mailing binoculars to voters across the nation. Rice finished seventh in Heisman voting in 2006. (Photo courtesy of Rutgers Athletics)
Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor8 of 18
Baylor's trading card promotion of quarterback Robert Griffin was a success. The school mailed six cards to media across the country, including one after he won the Heisman. Griffin edged Stanford Andrew Luck by 280 points to claim the 2011 Heisman Trophy.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis9 of 18
Playing outside of a BCS conference makes it difficult to win the Heisman, but Memphis certainly did all it could to promote DeAngelo Williams with a diecast race car in 2005. Williams finished seventh in Heisman voting in 2005.
Graham Harrell, QB/Michael Crabtree, WR, TTU10 of 18
Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree was a popular connection at Texas Tech for two seasons, and the school created an interesting campaign playing off the 2008 presidential election. Texas Tech pitched the two players as Heisman candidates with a website (PassOrCatch2008.com), and both finished in the top five of voting that season.
Joe Theismann, QB, Notre Dame11 of 18
Most of the award campaigns in this slideshow feature promotional materials, but Notre Dame had an effective and cheap campaign to promote Joe Theismann in 1970. Instead of mailing out anything to the media, Notre Dame's sports information director at the time (Roger Valdiserri) came up with the idea of changing the pronunciation of Theismann to rhyme with Heisman. Theismann finished second to Stanford's Jim Plunkett in 1970.
Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon12 of 18
To help combat East Coast bias, Oregon unveiled this large billboard of quarterback Joey Harrington in Times Square. Harrington led the Ducks to a Fiesta Bowl appearance in his senior year, while finishing fourth in Heisman voting.
Jason Gesser, QB, Washington State13 of 18
Gesser was one of the most productive quarterbacks in Washington State history and helped to lead the Cougars to 20 wins from 2001-02. To help promote Gesser's Heisman campaign, the school unveiled a 25-foot banner on a grain elevator in Dusty, Wash. Gesser finished seventh in the voting for the 2002 season.
Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin14 of 18
Wisconsin's Montee Ball finished fourth in Heisman voting for 2011 and was one of the frontrunners to win in 2012. However, the senior got off to a slow start and never managed to work his way back into serious Heisman contention. To promote the senior running back, the school released a short video detailing some of Ball's accomplishments and hyping his return for 2012.
Dan LeFevour, QB, C. Michigan15 of 18
Central Michigan is less than 200 miles outside of Detroit, so it is no surprise the Chippewas have a large following in the city. The school promoted quarterback Dan LeFevour in 2008 by placing a large billboard outside of Comerica Park. Although LeFevour had an outstanding career, he did not earn any Heisman consideration.
Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech16 of 18
OK, so this one isn't officially for the Heisman, but we love it anyway. Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton had an impressive debut in 2011, catching 74 passes for 1,135 yards and 10 touchdowns. The senior is a candidate for the 2012 Biletnikoff Award (nation's best receiver), and the Bulldogs unveiled a promotional campaign featuring the receiver in a similar pose as actor George C. Scott when he played General George S. Patton.
Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin17 of 18
Wisconsin was one of the first schools to effectively use social media to promote a candidate for the Heisman. In addition to earning kudos for a strong social media campaign, the school deserves credit for the "RussellMania" handle. In his only year with the Badgers, Russell Wilson threw for 33 touchdowns and finished ninth in the Heisman race.
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Like politicians, college football athletes and their universities also campaign to grab votes. Since the race for the Heisman kicks off this week, we thought we'd look back as some of our favorite campaigns to take home the coveted trophy.
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