Jackson for the Heisman

They're NOT the same old Beavers… Sometimes they just act that way. <br><br> Change -- even for the better -- is challenging. The new manager still wants to be buddies with the people he now supervises. The lottery winner blows everything, inevitably returning to their comfort zone. <br><br> So it is with Oregon State, who continue to shy away from launching a Heisman campaign for Steven Jackson.

Ken Simonton's Heisman campaign was short lived as the Beavers limped to a 5-6 record in 2001.

They bring up Ken Simonton, whose campaign ended pretty much with the kick-off in the opening game. Then to “compare and contrast” (it really IS a college team) they point to last year’s Heisman winner, USC Quarterback Carson Palmer. “His campaign didn’t start until November.”

There are just two problems with that line of thinking:

First, Steven Jackson is not Ken Simonton. He’s bigger, faster and stronger. He is a man among boys. Also, he has a mature offensive line in front of him, the lack of which was Simonton’s undoing.

Second – and you may want to sit down for this --- YOU’RE NOT USC!

USC is on regional or national network television 7, 8, 9 times a year. Their game against Arizona State was ABC’s game of the week last week, even though both were coming off losses and it was an utter mismatch. When USC and UCLA were battling for 9th place in the conference a few years back, which game did ABC carry during rivalry weekend? That’s right. Because THEY are USC.

If ANY university should understand the need to lobby Heisman voters, it is Oregon State. Oregon State’s brilliant sports information director, Johnny Eggers, invented the Heisman campaign to draw attention to Terry Baker. It’s quaint when compared to the “Attack of the 50-Foot Duck,” however his weekly postcards with Bakers stats to all Heisman voters was unprecedented.

So were the results. For the first time in its history, The Heisman came west the Big 8, to Corvallis, Oregon.

Like Baker before him, Jackson doesn’t play for a “perennial national power.”

As in 1962, the east coast is still 3 hours ahead and misses our games.

Jackson probably will not be seen on east coast television.

Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy despite a late campaign, but he played for USC.

And the simple fact that he is from the west doesn’t help, since a PAC-10 player won last year.

It was a year ago that Sports Illustrated wrote – maybe “confessed” is the right word – that a Pac-10 team will never play for the national championship unless there is absolutely no choice.

Who votes in the BCS? The same people who vote for the Heisman.

Against all that, one would be tempted to say “Why bother? He’ll never win…”Why bother? Because for nearly 40 years, any mention of “Heisman” and “Oregon State” in the same sentence had people waiting for the punchline. That, or it was an comparison to Cumberland and their 222-0 loss to John Heisman’s Georgia Tech team.

In Steven Jackson the Beavers have not only a viable Heisman candidate, they have a DREAM candidate. The affable kid with the dreadlocks and the 1000 megawatt smile carries a 3.0 GPA. He doesn’t drink. He has the unmistakable discipline that comes from growing up in a military family. He takes the time to sign autographs for kids who wait for him after games because he remembers being one of them. The future first round pick wants to earn his degree.

Oregon State can’t buy the publicity that Heisman candidacy brings. Constant mention in all of the “Heisman watches,” feature stories in every town in which the Beavers play, SportsCenter…

Promoting Jackson for the Heisman lets the world know that Heisman caliber backs do come to Oregon State. It also lets those who dream of winning the Heisman know that Oregon State will do everything within its power for them.

Along with Richard Seigler, Steven Jackson IS Beaver Football. Promote Jackson and the Beavers promote Oregon State Football. It’s that simple. Fail to promote him the opposite is true.

And here’s the beauty of it, OSU… He doesn’t have to win for the campaign to pay HUGE dividends.

If ANY university should understand the need to lobby Heisman voters, it is Oregon State. Oregon State’s brilliant sports information director, Johnny Eggers, invented the Heisman campaign to draw attention to Terry Baker.

Establish him as a candidate this year and Steven Jackson will be a front runner for the Trophy going into his senior season – which would be a very good reason to HAVE a senior season.

When Mike Riley came to Corvallis, he said the biggest challenge was getting the players to think like winners, to expect good things to happen, to know that they weren’t responsible for what has happened in the past.

They’ve gotten the message. Jackson has said – with all due respect and diplomacy -- that he would welcome a campaign. Teammates have said that a Jackson-for-Heisman campaign would energize the whole team.

It’s the decision-makers who are saying, “Gosh, after what happened last time…” as if Ken Simonton in 2001 has anything whatsoever to do with Steven Jackson in 2003.

Jackson has a shot. He has a very good shot a getting to New York as the “Left Coast” representative.

What Jackson does not have is a come-from-behind shot. Not from Corvallis.

It doesn’t require six figure investments, CD-ROMs or billboards. It simply requires a little imagination and enough confidence to think about what can go RIGHT instead of what can go wrong.

When Washington State was promoting Ryan Leaf for the Heisman, the sent a leaf to voters every week with his statistics printed on it. It was a campaign John Eggers would have loved.

Let me make this easy, Beavers: Send a trading card to Heisman voters every week with Jackson’s stats and some personal factoid on the back. Then attach a dredlock and add the following caption, dictionary-style:

DREAD “dred” (n) What defenses experience when Steven Jackson has the football. LOCK “lok” (n) What Steven Jackson should be for your Heisman vote.”

It’s impossible to put a dollar value on Steven Jackson’s impact on Oregon State. Establishing him as a Heisman candidate leverages Steven Jackson’s impact exponentially.

All the reasons given for not mounting a campaign are based on fear. They all have to do with what could go drastically wrong. “Oh, no. We all remember 2000.”

Beavers, it’s time to think about what can go drastically right. You’ve got a great kid who happens to be the best running back in the nation.

We’re NOT the same old OSU.

So let’s stop acting like it.

Repeat after me: “Jackson for Heisman.”

Jaydub joined BeaverFootball.com in 2003. Jaydub can be reached at jaydub@beaverfootball.com.


BeaverFootball.com Note: BeaverFootball.com started the unofficial Steven Jackson Heisman campaign before the season started. It can be reached at http://www.beaverfootball.com/heisman/. Check out the promotional section and paste the firey Beaver in your car, at work, or wherever you go.

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