Champ Bailey can fly. That in itself deserves the Heisman (Credit: Vincent Laforet /Allsport)
Last week, thanks to the magic of EA Sports' NCAA Football '13 and the new Heisman Challenge feature, we engaged in a flight of horrifying fancy and took a look at how Arizona State's 2012 season would happen with Tim Tebow.
Now our friends at EA are grounding things a little bit, shifting the focus from futures of fantasy to pasts filled with snubs and heated debate.
Over the years, there have been a number of glaring Heisman snubs (ahem, Tommie Frazier), but one that sticks out most to me occurred back in 1998, when the trend of the Heisman being for "best offensive skill player" instead of the "most outstanding college football player".
1998 was the year that Texas running back Ricky Williams won the award in a landslide with 2,124 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns, besting Kansas State quarterback Michael Bishop (second) and UCLA's Cade McNown (third).
However, my pick for the "real" best player in all of college football finished just seventh in the voting, with six first place votes and 2,300 points behind Williams (2,355 to 55). His versatility, playmaking ability and dominance on both sides of the ball were unmatched.
So I present to you the "shoulda been" 1998 Heiman Trophy winner: Georgia cornerback/wide receiver Champ Bailey.
While he didn't walk away with the Heisman, Bailey still collected plenty of hardware. That season, he was an All-SEC player, a consensus All-American selection and won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the top defensive player in the nation.
A true shutdown corner, he posted 54 tackles (four for loss), with three interceptions and eight passes defended. Simply put, he took away half of the field from the opposition.
But that defensive dominance alone wouldn't get him the Heisman consideration. Bailey also was an explosive wide receiver, hauling in 50 passes for a team-high 817 yards and six touchdowns for the 9-3 Bulldogs. Bailey also had 19 carries for another 93 yards.
Rounding out the triple-threat posed by Bailey, Bailey returned 17 kickoffs for 365 yards and five punts for 61 yards. Dynamic.
Simply put, Bailey was the best pure football player that season, and that is the definition of the Heisman Trophy. Sadly, that's not the practice of the award.
So to you, Champ, hopefully this post helps heal those old wounds.
This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.
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