The history of sports guarantees is long and dubious, and the sports guarantee is a lot less risky than is commonly recognized.
So when Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk tells The Sporting News, “I’m going to win the Heisman,” as he did Thursday, he is not so much sticking his neck out there as he is self-consciously presenting himself as a starring character within the drama of college sports.
It’s not a bad way to start a Heisman campaign, actually.
Seastrunk is a good enough player to do it. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry his first season in Waco, and ran for an average of 139 yards over the last five games of the season. Over 12 games, that would add up to 1,668 yards, which is good enough to win a Heisman in some years.
Since Ron Dayne won it in 1999, the only running backs to win the Heisman were USC’s Reggie Bush, who ran for 1,740 yards in 2005, and Alabama’s Mark Ingram, who ran for 1,658 in 2009. Both played in the national championship game.
But there have been three Heismans awarded since then, and all three went to dual-threat quarterbacks on teams that won at least 10 games. Seastrunk is neither a quarterback, nor likely to play for the national championship next season. Baylor went 7-5 this year, and will be replacing quarterback Nick Florence, who led the Bowl Subdivision in total offense.
Odds are, Seastrunk would have to do something similar to what Dayne did in 1999, when he ran for 1,834 yards for a Wisconsin team that went 10-2 and finished fourth in the polls. Dayne beat out Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton, who had 3,800 total yards, and Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick, who was a freshman.
Dayne also had the “career achievement award” factor in his favor, breaking the NCAA’s career rushing record during that senior season.
Seastrunk has no such reputation preceding him, which is what makes his Heisman declaration a savvy move.
Still, he’ll need a mind-blowing season on a great team (and maybe a sophomore slump from Johnny Manziel).