Just Sayin’: Call the Heisman Trophy what it is — a quarterbacks’ award. But should it be?

Most of the electorate could look harder than it does for the “best” player out there, who might be a linebacker, a cornerback or an offensive tackle.

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Notre Dame v USC

USC’s Caleb Williams is the sixth quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy in the last seven years.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Six in the last seven seasons. Eleven in 13 seasons. Nineteen in 23 seasons since the turn of the century.

Quarterbacks aren’t quite batting 1.000 in recent years when it comes to winning the Heisman Trophy, but they aren’t far off. It’s certainly fair to say the Heisman has become a quarterbacks’ award. The question is, should it be?

USC’s Caleb Williams, who was announced Saturday as the 2022 winner, received first-place votes on 544 of 863 ballots. Heisman finalists Max Duggan of TCU, C.J. Stroud of Ohio State and Stetson Bennett of Georgia finished second through fourth in the voting, with Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker and Alabama’s Bryce Young — the 2021 winner — rounding out the top six. All are quarterbacks.

My ballot had Williams first, Duggan second and Michigan running back Blake Corum third. Had TCU completed its Big 12 championship-game comeback to finish the regular season at 13-0, I probably would’ve had Duggan first because of how spectacular he has been in the clutch. Had Corum been able to play against Ohio State and been his usual unstoppable self, he could’ve ended up at the top of my list. Oh, well.

We all lean toward QBs, which isn’t going to change as long as the teams toward the top of the polls are cranking out 40-plus points per game like it’s nothing and passers are piling up numbers that obliterate anything we ever saw from even the most prolific of their signal-calling forebears. It’s not just a quarterbacks’ award; at the college level, it’s a quarterbacks’ sport.

It didn’t used to be. From the early years of the Heisman through the 1980s, running back was clearly the glamor position. Even in the ’90s, four running backs (Colorado’s Rashaan Salaam, Ohio State’s Eddie George, Texas’ Ricky Williams and Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne) — along with a wideout/return man (Michigan’s Desmond Howard) and a defensive star (Michigan’s Charles Woodson) — won it. But those were, inarguably, the MVPs of their teams.

The college game has evolved, but has an electorate that essentially never picked non-offensive skill players in the first place been lazy and incurious, too quick to pack their ballots with QBs only? To some extent, yes. Most of us could look harder than we do for the ‘‘best’’ player out there, who might be a linebacker, cornerback or offensive tackle.

The best six players surely don’t all play the same position, do they? No, we know better than that. Most of us just don’t vote like it.


Penn State v Illinois

Illinois’ Underwood was piping mad after the Penn State game.

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Illinois’ basketball team is long, athletic and talented enough to beat anybody yet sloppy enough at both ends to lose to anybody. One supposes a lot of teams are like that, but the Illini put it on stark display by beating No. 2 Texas 85-78 in New York and, at home four days later against unranked Penn State, bumbling about in an embarrassing 74-59 no-show.

‘‘The [leadership] on this team is zero,’’ livid coach Brad Underwood said. ‘‘It is none. Inexcusable.’’

Maybe he’ll do something about that? It would seem to be part of his job and all. . . .

Alabama’s winning comeback Saturday from 15 points down in the second half at No. 1 Houston was a display that screamed ‘‘Final Four team.’’ Remember the Tide, people. I’d credit Nick Saban, of course, but it turns out he didn’t even have anything to do with it. . . .

Cubs fans don’t have to like it, but they have to respect the Cardinals — you know, Willson Contreras’ new team — for always being in win-now mode. Guess that’s just how things work in the big city of St. Louis. . . .

The Blackhawks have lost 17 of their last 20 games, raising an important question: If general manager Kyle Davidson and Bears counterpart Ryan Poles traded jobs, would anyone notice? . . .

Week 14 prediction: Bears lose again, 31-13.

What’s that? They’re off? In that case, make it 24-13. . . .

Congrats to the Mokena-based Illinois Jr. Celtics on their 30-0 victory Friday in the Division 2 13U Pop Warner Super Bowl in Orlando, Florida. I had ’em minus 30½, but terrific work all the same.


NEXT House Hosts ESPN The Magazine - Game Night

Jeanette Lee, the “Black Widow,” is the subject of a new “30 for 30.”

Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images

‘‘Jeanette Lee Vs.’’ (7 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN): At the peak of her billiards fame, the ‘‘Black Widow’’ was, with her signature look and ruthless swagger, as instantly recognizable as any figure in sports. This ‘‘30 for 30’’ documentary tells her story.

Knicks at Bulls (6:30 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN, NBCSCH): Will these stagnating teams at least treat a national audience to a good game? If they want to engage in some trade talks while they’re at it, all the better.

Fenway Bowl: Louisville vs. Cincinnati (10 a.m. Saturday, ESPN): A football game at the home of the Red Sox? I can’t wait to see what happens when somebody punts the ball off the Green Monster.


From Ron, via Facebook: ‘‘Couldn’t you have voted for ‘No one’ for the Heisman? Because ‘No one’ was most deserving. You’ll have to Google what team that guy ‘No one’ plays for.’’

I’m guessing he doesn’t play for the team you root for, or else he would have a name.

On an 11-victory USC team, Williams threw for 4,075 yards and 37 touchdowns — with only four interceptions — and led the Trojans in rushing touchdowns with 10. What’s he supposed to be apologizing for again?


December byes: Shouldn’t the Bears at least try to slip an 11th loss past the NFL this week for the sake of their draft position?

Grinnell hoops: In a 124-67 victory against Emmaus Bible College, the Division III Pioneers attempted all 111 of their shots from beyond the arc. Whom do they think they are, Nikola Vucevic?

Yan Gomes: Watching Brazil blow its World Cup quarterfinal couldn’t have been easy for the Sao Paulo-born Cubs catcher. But, hey, the good news is all he has to do now is squat in the shoe prints of Willson Contreras.

Cody Bellinger: Although, in all fairness to the new Cubs outfielder, a lot of us probably would’ve been the worst hitter in the Dodgers’ lineup, too.

The White Sox: OK, so they’ve won only three postseason series in the last 105 years. But have you tried the pretzel-wrapped bratwurst at Guaranteed Rate Field?

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