Like politicians, college football athletes and their universities also campaign to grab votes. Since the Heisman will be handed out this Saturday, we thought we'd look back as some of our favorite campaigns to take home the coveted trophy.
Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch was one of the nation’s top quarterbacks during his two-year stint in DeKalb. Lynch rushed for over 1,800 yards in back-to-back seasons, while throwing for 3,000 yards as a junior and over 2,600 as a senior.
After Lynch finished seventh in the Heisman voting in 2012, Northern Illinois sent out lunch boxes to Heisman voters to promote their senior quarterback for college football’s most prestigious award.
Ty Detmer, QB, BYU
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)
Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers
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)
Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
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.
Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor
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.
Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
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.
Joe Theismann, QB, Notre Dame
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, Oregon
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 State
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.
Dan LeFevour, QB, C. Michigan
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.
Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri
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, Northwestern
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.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis
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, TTU
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.
Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall
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.
Orlando Pace, OT, Ohio State
It’s not easy for offensive linemen to gain recognition in the Heisman race. Without the highlight plays of a quarterback or running back, linemen are often the forgotten link when considering the success of teams. Pace dominated during his career at Ohio State, earning the nickname “The Pancake Man” for his pancake blocks on opposing defensive linemen.
And what better way to promote Pace for the Heisman than a commercial of the 6-foot-7 lineman making pancakes?
College Basketball, News The NCAA selection committee likes to remind us that a team’s entire body of work is being judged on Selection Sunday.Why, then, does it seem that last impressions matter every season?The...
NASCAR, News Welcome to the Athlon Rookie Report, where each week David Smith will evaluate the deepest crop of new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series talent since 2006. The Report will include twice-monthly rankings, in-...
NASCAR, News Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran 1-2 Sunday in the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But those results are part of a larger, 1-2 knockout punch they’ve been aiming at the...
College Football, News The Bowl Championship Series is dead. But even the harshest of BCS detractors must acknowledge that the 16-year run was arguably the best era of college football in the history of the sport.The era...
College Football, News Every college football program is unique and has its own set of challenges. But some programs are clearly better than others.So what exactly determines the best job in a conference or in college...
College Football, News With all due respect to Johnny Football, Jameis Winston had the best debut season in college football history. Johnny Manziel’s Heisman-winning season in 2013 was special — he...
College Basketball, News A good rule of thumb for anyone filling out bracket is to ask one simple question: How many consecutive games against good teams can this team win right now?Nearly every team in the field will have...
College Basketball, News As of today, the next two losses will be any team's last losses of the season.With conference tournaments starting this week, no team can afford any kind of cold streak.The following teams,...
College Basketball, News For any fan just getting into college basketball in time for championship week and office pools: What took you so long?You have some catching up to do. By waiting until the final weeks, you’ve...
College Basketball, News NC State isn’t where it wants to be this season, but at least with T.J. Warren, the Wolfpack are appointment viewing.The sophomore showed why NC State could be considered a sleeper in the ACC...