2000's Heisman Trophy Winners
The decade began with Bobby Bowden sitting atop the world of college football, having just won his second national championship. It ended with the Florida State coach driving a spear into the ground, a ritual to illustrate the finality of a great career.
The passing game turned spread from a verb into a noun. The spread offense spread across the game. Scores went up. The blood pressure of defensive coaches went up. Fullbacks became as rare as VHS. The nickelback played more, unless defenses went ahead and called him a linebacker. The spread acted a lot like the common cold. Stopping it is difficult because no two are exactly alike.
The spread rendered the passing records at the beginning of the decade obsolete. One of the best coaches to use the spread, Urban Meyer, began the decade in obscurity and, after winning at Bowling Green, Utah and two national championships at Florida, ended it in limbo.
Gators quarterback Tim Tebow became the most loved and hated player in the SEC, which means in all of football. The SEC finished the decade as the first conference to win four consecutive national championships.
Tebow became one of eight quarterbacks to win the Heisman. Three Heismans went to USC Trojans, one of many illustrations of how Pete Carroll's team dominated the sport. The Trojans finished in the top five in seven consecutive seasons.
USC began the decade in mediocrity and spent most of it in greatness. Alabama sunk into mediocrity for most of the decade and ended it in greatness. Notre Dame began the decade in mediocrity and ended it the same way.
In 2008, Michigan suffered its first losing season since 1967.
In 2009, Michigan suffered its second losing season since 1967.
In 1999, Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College finished 1-2-3 in the Big East. Midway through the new decade, they walked out of the door -- 1-2-3 -- and joined the ACC. The Big East raided Conference USA, and so the food chain continued. As the decade ended, the Big Ten acknowledged that it may start the realignment dance all over again.
Johnson and Tressel proved they can win in the FBS as much as they won in the FCS. Boise State has done the same. The Broncos, who didn't join I-A until 1996, spent the decade proving that mid-major powers can evolve into major powers.
For that, Boise State, as well as Utah and TCU, have the BCS to thank. The commissioners didn't want to include the smaller, less powerful conferences in their postseason party. The Mountain West, the WAC and others opened the door wider only after the threat of congressional intervention.
Once the less powerful teams arrived, they quickly proved they belonged. The Mountain West went 2-1 in the BCS. Its only loss came at the hands of the WAC, which also went 2-1. Their inclusion has proven to be the best thing that the commissioners were ever dragged, kicking and screaming, into doing.
By the end of the decade, more fans seemed to want as much college football as they could get. It appears that the sport couldn't be healthier.
2000 Chris Weinke
2001 Eric Crouch
2002 Carson Palmer
2003 Jason White
2004 Matt Leinart
2005 Reggie Bush (vacated)
2006 Troy Smith
2007 Tim Tebow
2008 Sam Bradford
2009 Mark Ingram, Jr.
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