At 7:50 CT Saturday night in New York City, LSU’s 60-year wait is over.
That’s when quarterback Joe Burrow will be named winner of the 85th annual Heisman Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top college football player.
He’ll join the late Dr. Billy Cannon, the 1959 Heisman winner, as the only two Tigers ever to capture the award.
The Heisman presentation telecast begins at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.
Burrow is expected to become the fourth Heisman winner to receive more than 90 percent of the votes from the potential 928 voters (870 media members in six regions, 57 past Heisman winners, one Nissan Heisman House fan vote).
The record was set by 2005 Heisman winner Reggie Bush of Southern Cal, who got 91.77 percent of the votes. His Heisman was vacated when he was named in Southern Cal’s NCAA infractions.
Few people are prouder of Burrow’s Heisman win than Dot and Bunnie Cannon, widow and daughter respectively of LSU’s only Heisman winner, who died in May 2018.
The Cannons not only sent Burrow a letter of congratulations that he read on his flight to New York on Friday, but they recently met with Burrow to tell him the award is going to change his life forever.
“My Dad would be so proud of him,” Bunnie Cannon told a local Baton Rouge TV station.
Burrow, the fifth-year Ohio State grad transfer who’s 23-3 as the Tigers’ starter, wasn’t on anybody’s Heisman watch list at the start of the season.
That’s because no one had seen he and all his weapons unleashed in first-year passing game coordinator Joe Brady’s spread/RPO infused offense.
Interestingly, as the season progressed with Burrow producing 11 300-yard passing games including a current school record streak of seven, he emerged as such a dominant Heisman favorite that he hardly received any questions if he thought about winning the award.
The few times he was asked, his response was, “It was a goal when I was little, not so much a goal now. I’d rather have a big, fat (national championship) ring on my hand.”
Burrow will be the landslide winner because he has met and exceeded unofficial criteria for a Heisman winner, such as:
*Making his team a national title contender: The 13-0 SEC champion Tigers are ranked No. 1 by the College Football Playoff committee heading into a Dec. 28 semifinal matchup vs. No. 4 Oklahoma in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.
*Jaw-dropping stats: He’s the first player in SEC history to throw for 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in the same season, completing 342-of-439 passes for SEC records of 4,715 yards and 48 touchdowns.
His current passing yardage total is more yards gained than the entire season total offense yardage of 53 LSU teams dating 69 years back to 1950. Also, 60.5 percent (207-of-342) of Burrow’s completions have been for first downs and/or touchdowns.
*Playing his best against the best: In LSU’s five games (and wins) against five Top 10 opponents, he has completed 143-of-182 (78.5 percent) for 1,827 passing yards, 15 TDs and two interceptions and has 187 rushing yards and a TD on 53 attempts.
*Heisman moments: Every Heisman winner needs to make crucial plays at crunch time in critical games to resonate with the voters.
Burrow has had at least three of them – a victory-clinching third-and-17 61-yard TD pass to Justin Jefferson with 2:32 left to play at Texas, two 75-yard TD drives in the final 10:07 at Alabama and his madcap scrambling 71-yard pass to Jefferson in the SEC title game over Georgia last Saturday.
Since Wednesday, Burrow has collected the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the Davey O’ Brien National Quarterback Award, the Maxwell Award for College Player of the Year, the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Associated Press Player of the Year.
This all happened because the offensive braintrust of offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, Brady and Burrow meshed better than anyone could have ever predicted.
The proof is the win-loss record and the fact that LSU is ranked No. 1 nationally in total offense (554.4 yards per game), No. 2 in passing offense (386.8 ypg) and No. 3 in scoring (47.8 points per game).
Earlier this week, Brady won the Broyles Award as college football’s assistant coach of the year, but he heaped praise on Ensminger.
“This award should say Joe Brady/Steve Ensminger,” Brady said on Tuesday in Little Rock when he accepted the award. “I’m only at LSU because of Steve Ensminger. I’ll never forget that. There is not a greater person to work for than Steve Ensminger and there is not a greater person that cares more about LSU and the success of this program. He doesn’t want to take credit for anything. I’m so grateful for Steve, and I hope to be him one day.”
Orgeron, speaking Thursday night at a media conference before ESPN’s College Football Awards in Atlanta where he was named Home Depot National Coach of the Year, said Ensminger’s willingness to change the offense and work with Brady has been an essential element of LSU’s success.
“Steve is 61, Joe is 30 and they work like two brothers in there,” Orgeron said. “Steve calls most of the plays. He’s worked his tail off to learn the spread offense. He’s the general.
“Steve loves LSU, played at LSU, has been at LSU a long time. He’s a very unselfish football coach, wants what is best for the football team.
“I think you have to crown him the MVP of the whole deal.”
The reason Burrow has played with such confidence is the relationship he has enjoyed with Ensminger and Brady while involved in game-planning.
“Coach Joe has brought a lot of good things in, but Coach E and Coach O molded this thing together,” Burrow said a few weeks ago. “People forget about Coach E all the time, but he’s been as important to this as anybody. He’s done a great job of listening to Coach O’s ideas, listening to my ideas and merging them with his own to build this monster that we’ve built.”
(Tiger Rag editor Ron Higgins will be in New York City providing coverage of Joe Burrow’s Heisman win. Check the Tiger Rag Facebook page for video interviews and TigerRag.com for stories)