ENGSTER: Fournette not favorite for Heisman

Geographical factors favor Standord’s McCaffrey 

President, Tiger Rag Magazine

The 2016 Heisman Trophy race is evolving into a showdown of junior running backs from LSU. There is 21-year-old Leonard Fournette, who is the contender from Bayou Country. And there is 19-year-old Christian McCaffrey from Leland Stanford University nestled in the lush hills of California.

Fournette is 6’1, 230 pounds and perfected his powerful physique on the hard streets of the 7th Ward of New Orleans. McCaffrey is 6-feet, 195 pounds and is the son of 13-year NFL veteran Ed McCaffrey and the grandson of Dave Sime, once the fastest man in the world. The more gifted son is five inches shorter than his father, who was 6-5, 215 and built much differently than his grandfather, who was 6-2, 180.

Fournette was listed as the top player in the land in the prep class of 2014. McCaffrey cracked the Top 100 in the nation at Highlands Ranch, CO. He left his home state to enroll at his dad’s alma mater in Palo Alto.

McCaffrey and Fournette had breakout years in 2015 with McCaffrey finishing a close second to Alabama’s Derrick Henry in the Heisman balloting. Fournette was sixth in the race.

Last season, McCaffrey broke Oklahoma State Heisman winner Barry Sanders’ NCAA record of 3,250 all-purpose yards. He cruised for 2,019 rushing yards (6.0 yards per carry), caught 45 passes for 645 yards and returned kicks for another 1,200 yards.

Fournette established an LSU record with 1,953 yards (6.5 yards per carry) in 2015. He caught 19 passes for 253 yards and did not return kicks.

Fournette had four 200-yard rushing games last year to three for McCaffrey. Fournette’s high was 244 yards against Syracuse. McCaffrey’s best game was a 243-yard performance against UCLA. Fournette also held a substantial advantage in touchdowns, 23 to 13 over McCaffrey.

It is likely one of the heralded backs will win the Heisman Trophy, although Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is no slouch. He finished third among Heisman voters last year. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was in fourth place, and he is back for another season with the Sooners.

Fournette must be clearly better than McCaffrey to hoist the trophy in New York. This year’s competition has the dynamics of the Heisman derby in 1962, when Oregon State’s Terry Baker edged Jerry Stovall in the closest balloting in history at that time. West vs. South with more finalists from the region that Fournette rules.

The publicity machine for McCaffrey will be immense. He is a central casting candidate while Fournette is rougher around the edges. Sample the description of the Stanford star in the May 16th issue of Sports Illustrated.

With blue eyes, a cresting wave of blond hair and a square jaw, he does not lack for female admirers. Nor does he lack for attention, and fans are quick to project upon him. Because he is a relatively small, white running back, he represents all small white guys.

Unless Fournette leads LSU to an undefeated season, which is possible, he will be hard pressed to become the Tigers’ first Heisman winner in 57 years.

World class family precedes McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey’s grandfather, Dave Sime, died of a heart attack in Miami Beach on Jan. 13 at age 79. And what a life he led.

Sime (pronounced Sim) was an ophthalmologist for more than four decades with patients that included President Richard Nixon, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Bob Griese and Sugar Ray Leonard.

Sime was the favorite to win three gold medals in sprints at the 1956 Olympics at Melbourne. But prior to the Olympics, he pulled a groin muscle while horseback riding and did not compete.

In 1960 at the Rome Olympics, Sime was a 24-year-old student at Duke University School of Medicine. In a controversial finish in the 100-meter dash, Sime’s foot crossed the finish line first, but his torso was behind that of Armin Hary of Germany, who was declared the winner and took the gold. Both runners were hand-timed in a record 10.2 seconds.

To make matters worse, Sime ran the anchor leg in Rome for the United States team in the 4×100 meter relay. He received the baton in second place, surged to the front and finished first in a world record 39.4 seconds. But his team’s first baton pass was made out of the 20-meter passing zone, and the Americans were disqualified.

At 35, Sime ran 100 yards in a Miami meet on a cement surface. His time was a remarkable 9.6 seconds.  He told the New York Times, “It was probably the first track meet I ever enjoyed.”

Sime starred as a receiver on the 1958 Duke team, which lost to LSU 50-18 at Tiger Stadium. Bud Johnson, in his splendid book “The Perfect Season,” notes that Sime did not make the trip to Baton Rouge because he was taking an exam for entrance to medical school. Sime caught passes for the Blue Devils from a quarterback named Bob Brodhead, the future LSU athletic director.

Bobby Freeman: April 27, 1934 to May 15, 2016

LSU lost one of its most distinguished graduates last week. Former Lt. Gov. Bobby Freeman died of an inoperable aneurysm at his home in Plaquemine at 82. He was twice an NCAA runner-up for the featherweight boxing championship at a time when boxing rivaled football for supremacy on campus.

Paul Dietzel mused that Bobby Freeman and Crowe Peele were the first LSU athletes he witnessed in action in 1955 at the Parker Coliseum. Freeman was a member of the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame. He served three terms in the Louisiana House, two terms as lieutenant governor and one term as a judge in his hometown. His former press secretary, Les Duhe,’ notes that Freeman was the rare person to serve in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. He was also a veteran of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam Era.

Freeman is survived by his wife, Marianne, who was a member of the LSU Board in 1986. She successfully requested that LSU embark on a two-week nationwide search to find a successor to Bill Arnsparger as football coach. The search ended as it started with Mike Archer being hired. One of the applicants who did not make the list of three finalists was Steve Spurrier.

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Jim Engster | President, Tiger Rag

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