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Horrible Heismans: Eric Crouch – 2001

I was looking at Heisman stats today at work. That is what the city pays me to do while I teach children. In my statistical deep dive I started with the most recent Heisman – 2018’s Kyler Murray – and worked my way backwards. For the most part, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. That is, until I arrived at the year 2001.

When I got there I saw something so disgusting that I yelled at my 5th grade students, “I said we are SILENT reading!”

“But Mr. Buzz,” spoke one brave little girl, “this is math class, not reading.”

“I SAID SILENT!”

My angry outburst was fueled by the shockingly poor statistics of the Heisman winner in 2001. At first glance, they simply can’t be true.

Let’s Talk Stats

PlayerSchoolClassPosSummary
Eric CrouchNebraskaSRQB105 Cmp, 189 Att, 1510 Yds, 7 TD, 10 Int

The Heisman Trophy winner in 2001 threw the ball 189 times in 12 games. He averaged just under 16 attempts per game. Let me type the following stat line in bold – I need to get this point across – 1,510 YDS, 7 TD and 10 INT.

The Heisman Trophy winner threw more interceptions than touchdowns.

In 1970, Jim Plunkett won the Heisman with 19 TD and 19 INT.

In 1963, Roger Staubach won the Heisman with 7 TD and 7 INT.

The last time a Heisman Trophy winner threw more interceptions than touchdowns was in 1956 – Paul Hornung threw 3 TD and 13 INT.

Crouch played in 12 regular season games in 2001. He failed to pass for 100 yards in three of those games. He threw for over 200 yards zero times in 2001.

Now I know you are going to say, “wait dude, I know that Crouch was a prolific runner, he must have had insane rushing stats.”

Fine, let’s take a look at those too.

PlayerSchoolClassPosAttYdsAvgTD
Eric CrouchNebraskaSRQB20311155.518

Pretty good rushing stats for a QB. Pretty wild that he ran the ball more times than he threw the ball.

Eric Crouch surpassed 100 rushing yards in six games during the 2001 season – with a high of 191 against Missouri.

If we combine the numbers though – and his 63 yard TD reception – we are still looking at just 2,688 Total Yards and 25 combined TD.

Let’s compare that to everyone else in 2001:

*This is a screenshot from https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/years/2001-leaders.html

Eric Crouch doesn’t even crack the top 20 with those numbers. Every single Heisman winning QB since 2001 has cracked the top 20 in total yards during their respective season – except for Troy Smith in 2006.

I know what you’re going to say, “you just addressed total yards – you bum – let’s just talk rushing stats”

Fine, you asked for it.

I looked at every quarterback that was voted into the Heisman top 10 – dating back to 2001. Here are all of the quarterbacks in that category that rushed for 1,000+ yards:

RankNameYearSchoolClassPosGAttYds
1Jordan Lynch*2013Northern IllinoisSRQB142921920
2Jordan Lynch*2012Northern IllinoisJRQB142941815
3Denard Robinson*2010MichiganSOQB132561702
4Lamar Jackson*2017LouisvilleJRQB132321601
5Lamar Jackson*2016LouisvilleSOQB132601571
6Cam Newton**2010AuburnJRQB142641473
7Johnny Manziel**2012Texas A&MFRQB132011410
8Keenan Reynolds*2015NavySRQB132651373
9Pat White*2007West VirginiaJRQB131971335
10Braxton Miller2012Ohio StateSOQB122271271
11Colin Kaepernick*2010NevadaSRQB141731206
12Eric Crouch*2001NebraskaSRQB122031115
13Deshaun Watson*2015ClemsonSOQB152071105
14Braxton Miller*2013Ohio StateJRQB121711068
15Vince Young*2005TexasJRQB131551050
16Kyler Murray**2018OklahomaJRQB141401001

*Heisman winning season

Eric Crouch is all the way down at #12 on that list. It is also important to note – every single QB on this list threw for more yards and touchdowns than Crouch did during his Heisman campaign.

Now let’s take a look at total rushing touchdowns for a QB that was voted into the Heisman top 10 – dating back to 2001. Huh? Whatever – just go with me here.

RankNameYearSchoolClassPosGYdsTD
1Keenan Reynolds*2015NavySRQB13137324
2Jordan Lynch*2013Northern IllinoisSRQB14192023
3Collin Klein*2012Kansas StateSRQB1392023
4Tim Tebow**2007FloridaSOQB1389523
5Lamar Jackson**2016LouisvilleSOQB13157121
6Johnny Manziel**2012Texas A&MFRQB13141021
7Cam Newton**2010AuburnJRQB14147320
8Colin Kaepernick*2010NevadaSRQB14120620
9Jordan Lynch*2012Northern IllinoisJRQB14181519
10Lamar Jackson*2017LouisvilleJRQB13160118
11Eric Crouch*2001NebraskaSRQB12111518
12Marcus Mariota**2014OregonJRQB1577015

*Heisman winning season

Crouch comes in at #11 on this list. I guess the question now is, what information can we gain from these two lists?

Eric Crouch was a very good running quarterback in college. Was he one of the best of all time? No – not even top 10.

Heisman Moment

You could argue that Eric Crouch had two defining Heisman moments. On was a 95 yard run against Missouri.

The other was a 63 yard touchdown reception against Oklahoma.

Team Resume

The Nebraska Cornhuskers were a Top 10 team through the entirety of the 2001 college football season. They started the year ranked #4 in the AP poll, and finished ranked #8.

#17 Notre Dame visited Nebraska in Mid-September – a game Nebraska won 27-10.

In late October – #2 Oklahoma came into town and lost to Nebraska 20-10.

The Cornhuskers lost to #14 Colorado in late November – their first loss of the year. That 62-36 loss led to Nebraska missing out on the Big 12 title game.

Despite being ranked #4 in both the AP and Coached poll – Nebraska was the #2 ranked BCS team and found themselves playing for the Rose Bowl and BCS Championship. They were defeated by the Miami Hurricanes 37-14.

Who Deserved to Win The Heisman?

If Eric Crouch was not deserving – then who should have won the Heisman Trophy in 2001?

Let’s take a look at the final voting results:

RkPlayerSchoolClassPos1st2nd3rdTot
1Eric CrouchNebraskaSRQB1629888770
2Rex GrossmanFloridaSOQB13710587708
3Ken DorseyMiami (FL)JRQB10912267638
4Joey Harrington*OregonSRQB546866364
5David Carr*Fresno StateSRQB346058280
6Antwaan Randle ElIndianaSRQB463951267
7Roy WilliamsOklahomaJRDB133635146
8Bryant McKinnieMiami (FL)SROL261214116
9Dwight FreeneySyracuseSRDL262442
10Julius PeppersNorth CarolinaJRDL2101541

This was the 5th closest Heisman race of all time. Crouch edged out Rex Grossman by just 62 points. He only surpassed 3rd place Ken Dorsey by 132 points.

The Case for Rex Grossman:

Florida was ranked #1 to start the year – never falling below #7 throughout the season. They finished the regular season with a 9-2 record. Their losses came on the road at Auburn and against #5 Tennessee. The loss to Tennessee kept them out of the SEC championship game. The Gators entered Bowl Season ranked #5 and ended their season at #3.

Grossman was a solid quarterback for the Gators all season. He started off the year with nine straight games of 300+ yards passing. His season high was against Louisiana State – he threw for 462 YDS and 5 TD.

He was a reliable QB for the Gators – except for during the loss to Auburn, a game in which he threw 4 INTs.

YearSchoolClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsTDIntRate
2001FloridaSOQB1125939565.638963412170.8
YearSchoolConfClassPosGAttYdsAvgTD
2001FloridaSECSOQB113480.25

The Case for Ken Dorsey:

Dorsey led the Miami Hurricanes to a perfect 11-0 record heading into bowl season. He did have a huge outlier of a game against Boston College. Miami won that game 18-7, but Dorsey threw 4 INTs

Outside of that one game his numbers were consistent and he was a reliable quarterback. The Heisman Trophy is for the best player – and it is hard to determine if Dorsey was that good or if he was just a product of that dominant Miami team.

YearSchoolClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsTDIntRate
2001Miami (FL)JRQB1118431857.92652239146.1

The Case for Joey Harrington:

Harrington led the Oregon Ducks to a 10-1 record before bowl season. The Ducks started the year ranked #7 – dipped to #11 at one point – and finished the season as the #2 team in the country. The lone loss for the ducks came midway through the season against Stanford.

Harrington was consistent all year – he rarely turned the ball over – throwing multiple interceptions in just two games.

YearSchoolClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsTDIntRate
*2001OregonSRQB1221436458.82764276143.8
YearSchoolClassPosGAttYdsAvgTD
*2001OregonSRQB1255561.07

The Case for David Carr:

David Carr had a phenomenal year for the Fresno State Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs beat Colorado (the same team that beat up on Nebraska) on the road to open the season. They then played #10 Oregon State and won 44-24. In their third game they traveled to #23 Wisconsin and beat them 32-20. In those three games, Carr threw fro 768 YDS and 7 TD with just 1 INT.

Fresno State worked themselves all the way up to #8 in the AP poll. After back to back losses to Boise State and Hawaii they fell out of the top 25. They briefly worked their way back into the top 25 by the end of the season. They lost their bowl game to Michigan State and ended the year unranked.

David Carr threw for 300+ yards in 10 games for the Fresno State Bulldogs. HIs season high was against Utah State – he passed for 432 YDS and 6 TD.

The obvious knock against Carr is that he played in the WAC – and didn’t have the best competition to play against through the whole season.

YearSchoolClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsTDIntRate
*2001Fresno StateSRQB1434453364.54839469165.9
YearSchoolClassPosGAttYdsAvgTD
*2001Fresno StateSRQB1494670.75

The Case for Antwaan Randle El:

He has often been referred to as “better than Eric Crouch” by me – just now.

The Indiana Hoosiers were an average football team – finishing the year with a 5-6 record. Their best moment of the season was defeating #22 Michigan State 37-28.

Randle El was an exciting dual-threat quarterback – he was fun to watch. It is truly hard to tell if he was a Heisman-worthy quarterback – or just the best athlete on a bad team.

YearSchoolClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsTDIntRate
2001IndianaSRQB1111823151.1166495120.1
YearSchoolClassPosGAttYdsAvgTD
2001IndianaSRQB111889645.18

So…Who Deserved the Heisman?

The Heisman should have been awarded to Rex Grossman. The Gators we a good team all year – and he was nothing but consistent.

Derek Carr had more impressive stats – but he also competed in the WAC.

Grossman played a tough SEC schedule along with an out of conference game against Florida State. To go along with his consistency – he also led the nation in passing efficiency.

If I had a vote in 2001, it would have looked like this:

  1. Rex Grossman – Florida
  2. David Carr – Fresno State
  3. Joey Harrington – Oregon

Wrap Up

In my next edition of Horrible Heismans – I’m coming for someone from THE Ohio State. The 2006 Heisman vote was a joke – Troy Smith did not deserve the award that year.

– Buzz

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Football

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