Saturday, December 09, 2006

Maxwell Award ... No, Thanks

The Axis of East Coast Bias continues to rear its ugly grey head inside a golden dome …

The New York Times ran a story by Bill Pennington on the front page of the sports section yesterday, attempting to replace general ignorance with some knowledge about the origins of the Heisman Trophy.

Of course, in its typical pseudo-aware, east coast biased way, the Grey Lady assumes there is ignorance to be replaced … and even worse, it illustrates the supposed ignorance by calling out a former Heisman winner from USC. In an obviously biased pull-quote, right next to a photo of the trophy, it reads:

‘The award is wonderful, but who’s Heisman?’
MIKE GARRETT, after being handed the trophy in 1965

Who’s to say that Garrett, now USC’s A.D., actually said this? And, even if he did, the guess here is that Pennington chose to use Garrett’s words because, as the first Heisman winner from California, Garrett was the one least likely to know anything about John Heisman. Then again, maybe Garrett’s quote was simply more articulate than those from other ignorant Heisman winners on their special night:

Eric Crouch (Nebraska) in 2001:
“The award is wonderful … Now I’m off to play QB in the NFL!”

Chris Weinke (Florida State) in 2000:
“The award is wonderful … It’s the coolest thing I’ve won in my life, all 38 years of it.”

Ricky Williams (Texas) in 1998:
“The award is wonderful … I can hide my stash in the base.”

Paul Hornung (Notre Dame) in 1956:
“The award is wonderful … I knew throwing ... er, I mean losing all those games would pay off.”

Nonetheless, Pennington does provide some decent information, describing John Heisman as the “conscience” of the game. According to the article, Heisman is responsible for legalizing the forward pass, as well as inventing the center snap, the “fumblerooski” hidden ball trick, and the scoreboard.

We all know the New York Times ran this piece as part of the Heisman hype before Ohio State’s Troy Smith picks up the trophy tonight. But if the paper was really doing its duty to replace ignorance with knowledge, Pennington would have written a piece telling us about Robert Maxwell, for whom the Maxwell Award is named.

I’d like to know more about the Maxwell Award, because like the Grey Lady, there is some explaining to do here. I’d like to know how in the world two awards can honor “college football’s most outstanding player” and choose different players so many times.

I’d also like to know how it is that USC has won seven Heisman Trophies (tied for most with ND, soon to be joined by the Ohio State tonight) but only three Maxwell Awards (Marcus Allen, Charles White, O.J. Simpson).

According to its surprisingly amateurish Maxwell Football Club web site, Robert “Tiny” Maxwell made his own “legendary” contributions to the game of football:
While playing guard for Swarthmore College, that Maxwell made a major impact on the game of football as we know it today. At the end of a savage contest with Penn, in which he turned in his customary stellar performance, Maxwell's nose broken, his eyes swollen nearly shut, and his face closely resembled steak tartare. According to gridiron historians, a newspaper photo of his face so shocked President Theodore Roosevelt, that two days later, in a meeting with major college representatives, the President demanded that they "clean up football," or he'd ban the game outright. Three months later, rules were changed to double the yardage required for a first down from five to ten, reduce playing time from seventy minutes to sixty minutes, add restrictions against roughing, establish a neutral zone on the line of scrimmage the length of the football, and to legalize the forward pass.
So, while Heisman was taking credit for inventing the forward pass, Maxwell was sacrificing his face for it. Nice story.

Still, it doesn’t explain why USC has only three Maxwell Award winners and ND has six, including this year’s winner Brady Quinn … Brady Quinn. Sure, he showed some profane toughness at the Coliseum last month, but Brad Otten could have won the Maxwell Award if USC played the three service academies and this season’s version of Stanford and North Carolina.

Who votes for the Maxwell Award? Like any biased voting process identities are semi-cloaked, apparently. According to last year’s press release:
Voters for all the Maxwell College Awards are NCAA Head College Football Coaches and SIDs, members of the Maxwell Football Club & sportswriters and sportscasters from across the country.
Right. I’d like to know how many of these voters are west of the Mississippi, let alone in a state without an Atlantic coastline. How could anyone watching college football this year vote for Quinn over Smith unless they were perpetrators of the east coast bias, which again is a close relative of the Domer Hype Machine?

Whatever. As the 1977 Maxwell Award winner Ross Browner of ND put it: “The award is wonderful … but I’ve never heard of it, and who really gives a damn, anyway?”

The again, who’s to say he actually said that.

Fight On! Beat the Wolverines!
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1 comment:

SoCal Oski said...

Heisman's, Maxwell's, Doak's ...

I guess I'll just have to be content that I am an alumnus of a University that has more Nobel laureates than sports laureates.

Go Bears!