Chris Huston knows a thing or two about the Heisman trophy. In fact, you might call the former Sports Information Director at Southern California the preeminent authority on the subject. Chris, who authors the website Heismanpundit.com and also has a Heisman vote, recently sat down with GoMids.com to assess Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs’ chances to take home the prestigious award.
It’s been 25 years since Navy running back Napoleon McCallum attracted Heisman interest, and in the quarter century to follow no Navy player has received consideration for the most prestigious of all college football awards. That is, until now.
After breaking the NCAA single season record for rushing touchdowns as a quarterback (27), as well as leading Navy to a 10-4 record and bowl win over Missouri, Midshipmen signal caller Ricky Dobbs has attracted a small but loyal following of fans and media members who’ve thrown his name into the discussion. Already a member of the Davey O’Brian watchlist for the nation’s top quarterback, Dobbs was the recent focus of the website Blatent Homerism, which pegged him as “The People’s Choice” to win the Heisman. Meanwhile, a “completely unofficial” Twitter campaign has been set up for Dobbs, while several national writers have mentioned him as a Heisman “darkhorse.”
But does Dobbs really have a chance to win the Heisman trophy, or is all the talk just that: talk?
According to Huston, Dobbs may represent the rare example of a student athlete who excels both on and off the field, but the Navy quarterback has little, if any chance to win the Award or make it to New York City for the trophy presentation. What are the biggest factors hindering Dobbs’ potential Heisman campaign, and what would the Navy senior have to do to potentially throw his name into a serious discussion for the award? GoMids.com has you covered, and checks in with the “Heisman Pundit” to get the lowdown on Dobbs’ Heisman hopes.
GoMids.com: You say that Dobbs winning the Heisman would be "good for the game." Can you explain what you mean by that? Do you think Heisman voters are looking for likable individuals and student athletes to vote for? Do you think they should, or should the voters focus only on what a player does on the field?
Chris Huston: I think it would be good for the game because it would demonstrate that in an era when big-time money-driven programs dominate with elite players fawned over since high school, there are still players who can break through that noise and show they are legitimate student athletes, untouched by the hype. I think Heisman voters always take likeability into consideration. As good as a player is on the field, they don't want to reward guys for being, essentially, mercenaries off of it.
GoMids.com: You cite the fact that "no true triple-option quarterback" has ever won the Heisman as a reason for why Dobbs won't win the award. But what about other option quarterbacks (such as Roger Staubach and more recently, Eric Crouch or even Tim Tebow)? Don't you think that point is especially weak considering that most teams run some kind of spread offense, which the triple option is...
Chris Huston: All triple options are spreads, but not all spreads are triple option. None of the players you mention ran the triple option, though there were option plays used. When I talk triple option, I'm thinking of the great Bone teams of the 1970s and 1980s from OU, Alabama, Texas, etc, which is the style offense that Navy more resembles. The point I was making is that if none of those great option QBs won it from those traditional powers, hard to imagine Dobbs doing it for Navy. Josh Nesbitt probably has a better shot.
GoMids.com: I think most fans would concede the point about the schedule. Yet what if Notre Dame has a very good year, and teams like Wake Forest, SMU, and Air Force get to bowls? Would Dobbs be in the conversation, or would he still have much more to do?
Chris Huston: I think he would get into the conversation if he had a huge year. But I think ND would have to prove to be very good and he would've had to have single-handedly destroyed them. At the same time, other players would have to mess up.
GoMids.com: Do you think the strength of this year's crop of non-BCS quarterbacks (Case Keenum, Andy Dalton, Kellen Moore) hurts Dobbs' chances?
Chris Huston: Most definitely. As good as Dobbs was last year, each of these guys--especially Keenum and Moore--put up phenomenal numbers, too. Really, probably the main reason Dobbs gets as much attention as he does is because of where he plays--for a service academy.
GoMids.com: There has been a lot of talk about Heisman candidates needing to have a "Heisman moment" to get serious consideration for the award. What would Dobbs have to do to have a Heisman moment in your eyes?
Chris Huston: I've never been a big believer in the Heisman moment theory. What was Sam Bradford's or Tim Tebow's moment? Sometimes it happens, but it's not necessary to win. However, beating ND with an incredible run at the buzzer wouldn't hurt...
GoMids.com: Your "Heismandments" have long been the gold-standard when judging a player's chances to win the award, but in recent years we've seen them challenged. One of those Heismandments is: "The winner cannot be considered an obvious product of his team’s system." Do you think Dobbs is a product of the system? Once more, does this Heismandment still hold true overall?
Chris Huston: The key to that phrase is 'cannot be considered', which means that it all boils down to perception of the both the player and the system. Texas Tech QBs have been almost indistinguishable from each other and none have gone on to do anything in the NFL to shake people's perception of that system. BYU had a system, but its quarterbacks shook that tag because they were seen as being great regardless of the scheme. I think people understand that Dobbs wouldn't get 27 rushing touchdowns if he weren't in that system...so, that stat is taken with a grain of salt as a result. It all plays a factor when it comes time to vote.
GoMids.com: You named Dobbs amongst your ten favorite players to watch in college football. Which games have you seen Dobbs play in? What makes him such an exciting player to watch for non-Navy fans?
Chris Huston:: What really stood out to me was that Ohio State game. He almost pulled that one out. He's exciting to watch because he's got great football instincts and running ability and has a way of pulling rabbits out of his hat when a play seems to be going nowhere. Plus, a well-executed option is so fun to watch and no one does it better.
GoMids.com: Does Dobbs break his own rushing TD record this year?
Chris Huston: I'll say no. Always hard to be that good twice. For Navy's sake, it might be better if he didn't.
Chris Huston is a nationally acclaimed media member and Heisman voter who authors the website Heismapundit.com.