It’s Campaign Season in Football, With the Heisman Trophy on the Line

“Some years we have a dilemma of deciding which Buckeye to celebrate,” Jerry Emig, a spokesman for Ohio State, wrote in an e-mail. “And that’s a good thing! Waiting until season’s end allows this decision to be decided at the grass roots/playing field level.”

Last December, for example, Ohio State despatched out a poster extolling Dwayne Haskins, its quarterback, on the day after the Big Ten championship sport. The piece famous that Haskins had been the sport’s most beneficial participant — and included a dig or two at Kyler Murray, the Oklahoma quarterback, and Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s quarterback, who had been the Heisman favorites. (Murray gained, adopted by Tagovailoa and Haskins.)

This 12 months, Wisconsin started mapping its technique for Taylor by early June, when a bunch of athletic division workers convened to debate parallel conundrums: easy methods to assist a tailback make a splash for an award that has, not less than in the 21st century, tended to go to quarterbacks, and easy methods to differentiate Taylor from different rushers.

Wisconsin officers known as a handful of nationwide reporters to listen to their views of Taylor and to seed the college’s arguments, which examine the junior’s statistics to these of different celebrated tailbacks, together with Dayne and Herschel Walker.

In conferences and memos, Wisconsin employees members mentioned Taylor’s strengths: “video game-type numbers,” identify recognition and persona. Their objectives had been specific: “Position him as a Heisman front-runner,” and “break through all the hype surrounding quarterbacks.”

They settled on a plan that known as for a mix of private and non-private efforts. While there could be a snazzy web site, Wisconsin officers concluded, there would even be formal interviews, a number of pull-aside conferences at Big Ten media days in Chicago and information conferences after video games at Camp Randall Stadium. They believed their message wanted to resonate in media markets past the Big Ten, realizing that individuals accustomed to the convention had spent years watching Taylor hustle by means of defenses.

Their purpose was to achieve the Michigan sport, on Sept. 21, with Taylor nonetheless in the dialogue and hope that his efficiency would let his candidacy take better form. He rushed for 203 yards and two touchdowns that day and has been seen as a contender ever since.

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