NEW YORK – Whether it’s throwing TDs in the face of all-out blitzes, dodging pass rushers as if he was tap-dancing through mine fields or laughing about showing his rear end to the world after being sacked, Joe Burrow has been a picture of cool the entire 2019 LSU football season.
The greater the pressure for the Tigers’ record-setting fifth-year senior quarterback, the more chill he becomes. His pulseless poise is a major reason why the No. 1 ranked 13-0 SEC champions are in the College Football Playoffs four-team field for the first time ever.
You just can’t crack Joe Cool.
That is, until here Saturday night at the PlayStation Theatre when Burrow was named the 85th winner of Heisman Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top college football player.
“I wouldn’t have traded my journey for anything in the world,” said an emotional Burrow, wiping away tears as joined the late Dr. Billy Cannon as LSU’s only Heisman winners. “This trophy is for LSU, Ohio State, southeast Ohio and all of Louisiana.”
Burrow, an Ohio State graduate transfer, received 2,608 votes or 93.8 percent of the total, which erased the previous Heisman record of 91.6 percent set by former Ohio State QB Troy Smith.
In the biggest margin of victory in Heisman history, Burrow received 841 first place votes from the 891 voters.
Placing second behind Burrow was Oklahoma QB and Alabama grad transfer Jalen Hurts, followed by Ohio State QB and Georgia transfer Justin Fields and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young.
It didn’t matter that Burrow’s Heisman victory was a foregone conclusion, especially after he won five major national awards in the last few days.
Already included in his trophy haul this week are 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. All awards had never previously won by an LSU player.
There wasn’t any drama hanging over the hour-long ceremony, except whether Burrow’s percentage of votes received would be a Heisman record.
Yet even the lack of suspense of Burrow being the obvious winner didn’t prevent Burrow and his parents Jimmy and Robin, sitting in the audience along with LSU coach Ed Orgeron, from crying tears of joy and giving their son a huge hug when Heisman Trophy trustee Carol Pisano announced the winner.
When Burrow heard his name, he congratulated the other finalists, his parents, Orgeron and wife Kelly as well as offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and passing game coordinator Joe Brady.
And then like he has all season, he humbly thanked his support system, from teammates to coaches, for making something he never dreamed of winning a reality.
He thanked his offensive line and all the weapons in the LSU offense. But Burrow was choking back tears when he thanked Orgeron.
“Coach O, you have no idea what you mean to my family.” Burrow told Orgeron, who had wet eyes himself. “I didn’t play for three years. You took a chance on me, not knowing if I could play or not. I’m forever grateful to you.
“Can you imagine a guy like Coach O giving me the keys to his football program? I hope they give you a lifetime contract.”
Burrow, who landed at LSU in May 2018 with two remaining years eligibility, went 10-3 as a starter last season in his first year in Baton Rouge.
He was a 200-to-1 shot at the start of this season to win the Heisman.
But under LSU’s revamped spread/RPO offense designed by Brady and Ensminger, Burrow is authoring a season for the ages.
Heading into the Tigers’ Dec. 28 CFP semifinal vs. Oklahoma in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, he has already set SEC single season records for passing yardage (4,715 yards) and TD passes (48).
His current completion percentage of 77.9 percent (342-of-439) will be an NCAA single game record if he maintains it. The record is 76.7 percent set by Texas quarterback Colt McCoy in 2008.
Burrow quickly established himself a Heisman contender with a string of four 300-yard passing games and then a current streak of seven 300-yard games.
He currently has four of the top six passing performances in LSU history, three of them coming this year.
It took those type of performances for Burrow to become LSU’s first Heisman winner since Cannon 60 years ago.
Cannon won the Heisman in 1959, entering the season as a college football household name. He finished third in the 1958 Heisman voting after leading LSU to the national championship.
Burrow is the 13th SEC player from six different league schools to win the Heisman. It’s the sixth time in the last 13 years the Heisman was awarded to an SEC star.
But as fun as this week has been for Burrow, he knows the big prize of a national title is still out there. He told the the media just prior to Saturday’s awards ceremony he was ready to get back to the practice field.
“These awards are great, but it has been an exhausting couple of days,” he said. “I’m ready to get back and see my guys.”