WITH ANOTHER 100-yard plus multi-purpose running performance last Saturday at Tennessee, Notre Dame's Raghib "Rocket" Ismail has emerged as the frontrunner for the 1990 Heisman Trophy. Such news does not bode well for Brigham Young's Ty Detmer, also a leading contender.
Notre Dame wins Heismans like Texans win chili cookoffs. Consider this: In 55 years of Heisman Trophy history, a Notre Dame player has won the trophy seven times, and the school has had a player place in the top 10 no less than 35 times.No other college comes close to such Heisman dominance. The Irish even had one of their winners, Paul Hornung in 1956, capture the prize even though that year's team went 2-8.
Ismail placed 10th in last year's voting. Detmer was ninth.
BYU has had players among the top 10 vote-getters 10 times in history - a figure well behind the Irish. However, since 1974, BYU has had nine top-10 finishers while Notre Dame has had just six.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN LOW: The Heisman Trophy hasn't been terribly kind to any football player in the Intermountain West. No player has ever won the trophy playing for a school in Utah or Colorado or Idaho or Montana or Nevada or Wyoming, and only 20 players from the Rockies have finished in the top 10.
Half of that group of 20 are from BYU. Air Force and Colorado have each had three top 10 finishers in the 55 years of Heisman history. Utah has had one top 10 finisher - quarterback Lee Grosscup in 1957. Utah State has also had one top 10 finisher - lineman Merlin Olsen in 1961.
BYU's top 10 placers include Eldon Fortie in 1962 (10th), Gary Sheide in 1974 (8th), Gifford Nielsen in 1976 (6th), Marc Wilson in 1979 (3rd), Jim McMahon in 1980 and 1981 (5th and 3rd), Steve Young in 1983 (2nd), Robbie Bosco in 1984 and 1985 (3rd and 3rd) and Detmer last year (9th).
ONE FOR ALL: If Detmer does win the Heisman, he won't be the only one. At least that's the view of Neal Fort, the Cougars' 295-pound offensive tackle.
"Our only recognition is what Ty gets," says Fort, speaking for himself and his teammates on the offensive line. "Whenever he does well, we do well. If he wins the Heisman, it would be just like us winning it."
Except only Detmer would get the trip to New York (not on Heisman presentation day, though, since he'll be playing against Hawaii Dec. 1).
THE BEST SINCE OLD WHAT'S HIS NAME: ESPN commentator Joe Theismann said this during a recent Washington Redskins game as he watched Redskins quarterback Stan Humphries: "He's the best quarterback Washington has had in five years."
Theismann last played for the Redskins in 1985.
THE BIG BULLIES: Following BYU's 45-14 rout of Wyoming last Saturday, a columnist for the Denver Post named Mark Kiszla called for an end to BYU's WAC membership.
"This bullying has got to stop," wrote Kiszla in Sunday's Post, noting that BYU has won its 1990 WAC games to date by an average score of 49-17 and has beaten bowl-bound conference members Air Force, Colorado State and Wyoming by a combined 151-30.
"The Cougars are the toughest customer in a neighborhood of dweebs," Kiszla went on. "Where's the honor in that? The WAC can do nothing to bolster this team's image. In October, Brigham Young took two weeks off and watched its national ranking improve. For embarrassing conference opposition on the remaining two Saturdays of the month, BYU dropped in the polls."
Kiszla asked BYU Athletic Director Glen Tuckett about the possibility of the Cougars aligning elsewhere.
"We're not in any big hurry to go any place," said Tuckett, although the A.D. did add, "We've heard from a lot of prestigious conferences, and that's very flattering. I've already told the WAC athletic directors that if the Pac-10 ever invited us, we'd listen."
GIVING IT BACK: They might be over-paid and over-indulged, but NBA players do have a heart.
When the Utah Jazz were in Tokyo recently to open the NBA season, Jazz forward Karl Malone saw a street person and handed him a 10,000-yen note (about $80) . . . and last week in New York, the Dallas Mavericks, returning from a game against the Knicks, were driving in a rundown section of town where the streets were lined with the homeless. At a red light, they got out and distributed the deli-sandwiches they'd been given as a postgame snack.
"I was about to take a bite of my sandwich, and I lost my appetite," Dallas forward Roy Tarpley said, "I saw people living in cardboard boxes on sidewalks."
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Detroit Pistons center Bill Laimbeer, talking to Sports Illustrated on the perception that he plays the man instead of the ball, "Actually, it's my lack of quickness. When I try to block a shot, I usually get the guy in the face."