Heisman debate: A former Arizona coach should have won the trophy

Arizona football doesn't have the historical clout to produce any Heisman Trophy winners. For one, the vast majority of the past Wildcat greats starred on the defensive side of the ball. From Tedy Bruschi to Rob Waldrop, Antoine Cason and beyond, very few UA football stars have been the usual suspects of the Heisman candidates -- quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.

And so it is that it's mighty difficult to find any past Arizona Wildcats that were arguably Heisman Trophy winners, even though some were multiple All-Americans. If we want to make an argument for someone with a Wildcat connection to have won a Heisman Trophy, however, we're going with someone who was only a Wildcat for a season.

That'd be former tight ends coach Josh Heupel, who came to Tucson in the second year of the Mike Stoops era.

Indeed, it was short-lived and in the pre-Sonny Dykes-led offense, success on the that side of the line of scrimmage was hard to come by. But coaching the Arizona tight ends was this former Heisman-runner up's first true coaching gig. At Arizona and a year removed from being a grad assistant at his alma mater, Heupel's background as a Sooner quarterback was the beginning of what's now a successful coaching career; he's currently the co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma.

So why should Heupel have won the Heisman?

Let's go back to 2000, when he was the starting quarterback for OU after working his way up from Weber State and then Snow College in Utah before transferring once again to Oklahoma. Leading the Sooners to a perfect regular season and the national title game, he was the Associated Press Player of the Year, Walter Camp Award winner and consensus All-American.

He threw for 3,606 yards and hi on 64.6 percent of his passes that season, though his 20 touchdowns to 15 interceptions could have hurt him in the end.

Heupel fell short of winning the award, and the votes were lost to a man who Heupel would soon be competing against. Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke took home 59 percent of the possible points in 2000 after quarterbacking the Seminoles to the national title game despite controversy about that selection.

It was Heupel who would get the last laugh.

The Sooners defeated the Seminoles in the 2001 Orange Bowl and Oklahoma finished with a perfect record that gave defensive coordinator Mike Stoops a defensive-minded name that would propel him later to landing the gig in Tucson.

Heupel threw for 214 yards while connecting on 25-of-39 his his passes (one interception) while Weinke threw a less accurate 25-for-51 for 274 yards and two interceptions. The key though, was the score. OU won 13-2 as the Sooners punched in just enough points to win and Mike Stoops' defense shut out the FSU offense, the Seminoles only points obviously coming by way of a safety.

Indeed, hindsight is 20-20 and what not. But if there's an argument that one Heisman runner-up should have gotten the trophy, this situation of Josh Heupel's Sooners beating Chris Weinke's team in the national championship game is a good one.

We're guessing, however, that Heupel would take the national title win over the Heisman Trophy.

This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.

EA SPORTS NCAA Football 13 TV: "Son" (via EASPORTS)

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