Our current MNC Wednesday miniseries evaluates only Heisman Trophy history: In 43 seasons overall, we have confirmed just 15 winners—demonstrating that the voting process really came down to hype and surface-analytics voting. It is sad to think about how sports history could be different if the voters had been able to apply any critical thinking to their decision-making process. It’s like the entire twentieth century just had a brain fart sometimes. But we digress … on with the Heisman show!
1999 Heisman Trophy winner: Ron Dayne, RB, Wisconsin (original); Shaun Alexander, RB, Alabama (revised)
Facing a pretty weak schedule (No. 61 SOS), Wisconsin Badgers running back Ron Dayne put up 2,043 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns, and he broke last year’s winner’s career rushing yardage mark in the process—which is the primary reason he won this vote. His team managed to win the B1G with that poor SOS and get a Rose Bowl bid in the process. On the surface, his season checked a lot of boxes, but that schedule could be an issue, depending.
Of course, there are always other candidates to consider. As a result, this is our final list of properly vetted Heisman candidates for the 1999 Heisman Trophy, which is short yet distinguished:
- Shaun Alexander, RB, Alabama: 1,796 total yards and 24 TDs (No. 1 SOS)
- Peter Warrick, WR, Florida State: 1,257 total yards and 12 TDs (No. 13 SOS)
- Michael Vick, QB, Virginia Tech: 2,747 total yards with 22 TDs and 5 INTs (No. 58 SOS)
Right away, we see a huge season from Shaun Alexander against the top schedule in the nation; considering that Alabama earned an Orange Bowl bid, we already will vault Alexander to the top of the pile ahead of Dayne. Meanwhile, Warrick was the most dynamic player on the voted national champs, although his yardage total is underwhelming. The Seminoles were loaded with talent, and Warrick obviously wasn’t getting the ball every play like Dayne was. In the end, his stats just aren’t enough, though.
Vick was a freshman and the most exciting player in the nation, one who singlehandedly carried his team to the BCS Championship Game against Florida State. His 171.1 QB rating was second in the country, and we’ll give you $1 if you can name one other player on that Hokies team that went undefeated in the regular season. Yet, the SOS is way too poor to consider him in comparison to Alexander. So, in the end, this becomes easy to give the Heisman to the Alabama star for his very strong season.
Congratulations to Shaun Alexander, the real Heisman Trophy winner from 1999.