It was a Thursday night on national television with not another college football game on and by Friday afternoon, September 26, 2008, the entire college football nation knew all about The Quizz Show.
That's not to say that he's a shoo-in, or even a favorite in the 2010 Heisman campaign. In fact, it's a long uphill road and for Quizz to be seriously considered -- a lot of dominoes have to fall in just the right order.
CONSIDER THE LAST couple decades or so, and where the Heisman winners came from -- Alabama, Oklahoma (times 2), Florida (times 2), Ohio State (times 2), USC (times 3), Nebraska, Florida State (times 2), Texas, Michigan (times 2), Miami.
Those are big names, historically the college football elite. And the exceptions to the rule were not small-time schools, either -- Wisconsin, Colorado and Brigham Young are the only ones outside the very top-tier college football royalty to put a winner in the Downtown Athletic Club.
So let's look closer, and focus on what the non-traditional power schools did to produce a winner. What did they do in order to wrest that award from the clutches of college football's Illuminati?
TY DETMER WON the trophy 20 years ago for BYU by rolling up an eye-popping 5,188 yards and 41 touchdowns. His season included an upset over the defending national champion and then-No. 1 Miami Hurricanes. Detmer forced the country to take notice by recording a 406 yard, 3 touchdown performance and then continued to command the spotlight by setting 42 NCAA records and taking a share of 5 others.
Ron Dayne won it for Wisconsin in 1999, and many have noted that Dayne's award was more of a career achievement, carrying the ball 1220 times for 6,397 yards. And that figure doesn't include the four bowl games The Dayne Train played in, as college football didn't record bowl game stats until the 2002-03 season. Yet a decade after Dayne, that record still stands as the career rushing record for an NCAA back.
Rashaan Salaam won the award in 1994 after posting a 2,055 yard season with 24 touchdowns, leading Colorado to an 11-1 season and a No. 3 finish. Their only loss was to eventual national champion Nebraska. More importantly, Salaam posted one eye-popping marquee performance against traditional powerhouse Texas, racking up 362 yards of total offense and leading the Buffs to a 34-31 win in Austin.
NOW FOR THE good news…
If Jacquizz Rodgers is to have a legitimate chance to win the Heisman Trophy, he's got to have a couple of marquee performances against the highest level competition. Salaam was a virtual unknown to much of the country but a marquee game against a big-name opponent, playing on an 11-1 team and the monster milestone of 2000 yards got him onto the podium at the Downtown Athletic Club.
Quizz has a leg up already over Salaam in terms of cache -- he's a feel-good story with established name recognition and that will only help. Most importantly, Quizz has 2 early season opportunities to build up a head of steam.
Oregon State plays not one but TWO top-5 level teams in the preseason in the forms of TCU and Boise State, and the eyes of the college football nation will once again be upon him. With a new signal caller under center, Rodgers is almost absolutely certain to be the focal point of the Beaver offense and he will have every opportunity to take the game over.
IT GOES WITHOUT saying that Rodgers has the skill set of a Heisman Trophy winner -- he can run, he can catch, he can block, and most importantly, he looks great on a highlight reel.
Long runs built on sheer speed (think Jahvid Best) are impressive to watch, but there is nothing that produces chills like a running back breaking ankles, of a guy shaking and baking and then dropping a monster stiffarm on a defensive back.
Rodgers' lateral acceleration, ever-improving vision and feel for the game jumps off the screen at the viewer. He can dazzle, run with power, truck a guy or juke him - and do it all in the same play, and then go line up in the backfield and in max protect blow up a blitzing linebacker on the next play.
With all due respect to the great Ken Simonton, watch his Heisman highlight reel here and then compare those to Rodgers' myriad highlights from his freshman season against USC and others on the BF.C Quizz for Heisman page. Or, simply watch the reel of his Pac-10 Player of the Week performance against Stanford in 2009, courtesy of BF.C poster thomasg86.
ALL THE PIECES are in place. What remains to be done is the "lightning in a bottle".
If The Quizz Show can step onto the bright stage and grab the nation by the throat in driving Oregon State wins in Texas and Boise, then the world is his oyster.
Hang on Beaver fans. This could be one heck of a ride. Heisman style.