It's an intriguing idea for a post - AND HEY, SOMETHING YOU CAN DO IN NCAA FOOTBALL 13, THAT IS, SWITCHING HISTORIC HEISMAN WINNERS FROM ONE TEAM TO THE OTHER - which player who won the Heisman do you wish had played for Northwestern?
The answer, when it comes to Northwestern, is pretty much anybody. We've never had a Heisman winner, and besides Darnell Autry, we haven't had anybody who even came particularly close. (Note: @revdjesq, AKA ChadNUDJ, reminded me DA2, Damien Anderson, finished fifth in 2000) Any one of the 74 men who has been awarded the Heisman trophy would have forever changed Northwestern's football program, even if only by providing a few spectacular seasons.
However, I thought about the question long and hard, and narrowed myself down to three candidates:
- Tim Tebow: because, come on, Tim Tebow, J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS. He also would've thrived in Northwestern's spread offense and led Northwestern to some solid seasons, perhaps a B1G championship, and come on, Tebow.
- Jay Berwanger: the first winner of the Heisman Trophy, just to avoid the embarrassing fact that the University of Chicago had a Heisman winner and Northwestern doesn't
- Charles Woodson.
I explain my reasoning after the jump.
Why Charles Woodson?
Northwestern, in the modern era, has had two truly great teams: 1995 and 1996. (Yes, they also won a B1G co-championship at 6-2 a few years later, but I don't think that team was as amazing.) The strength of those teams was a defense bolstered by Pat Fitzgerald.
During those years, Woodson - possibly the best defensive back in college football history, and the only defensive winner of the Heisman - was a freshman and sophomore at Michigan. He was already blossoming: in 1995, when Northwestern went to the Rose Bowl, Woodson had five picks and was Big Ten Freshman of the Year, earning a spot on one all-Big Ten first team. The next year he was even better.
Northwestern did have a great cornerback in Hudhaifa Ismaeli, but Woodson would have made Northwestern's defense absolutely unstoppable. Keyshawn Johnson wouldn't have been able to torch Northwestern for 216 yards and a touchdown in a potential Rose Bowl matchup, and maybe instead of talking about a team that went to the Rose Bowl, we're talking about a team that won a national championship - or at least won a bowl game, ending that dumb streak thing. Not to mention that Woodson would have been the best return man Northwestern has ever seen and that his talents could have also been used offensively - he was a pretty decent big play threat, both as a receiver and off reverses.
So, yeah, blasphemy sure. But I'm right, right?
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