Put the Crack Pipe Down, Wildcats
Normally, when we've busted out with a headline like the one above, we're talking about some unfounded optimism held by the Kansas State faithful. Part of becoming acclimated to the Big Ten however, is getting accustomed to a wholely different set of delusional 'Cat fans.
To be fair, it might just be the marketing arm of Northwestern's athletic department that's been "ghost busting". A few weeks back the Wildcats started promoting Dan Persa as a Heisman candidate in a rather aggressive manner. They sent 7-pound weights to media members that say "PersaStrong.com" to encourage them to visit a website promoting Persa as the best player in college football. Riiight.
Don't get me wrong, Persa's a quality player. Anyone who completed nearly 74% of his passes in ten games as a starter last year is doing well. But there's quite a big difference between "doing well" and "Heisman caliber". Despite his impressive completion percentage, he threw just 15 touchdown passes in ten games last year and rushed for nine more, averaging a little over 3 yards per carry. There were twenty four quarterbacks that averaged more points produced per game than Persa. Many of them are more realistic Heisman candidates like Boise State's Kellen Moore, Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Stanford's Andrew Luck, Oregon's Darron Thomas, Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, and Michigan's Denard Robinson, not to mention players at other positions like Oregon's LaMichael James, South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore, Alabama's Trent Richardson, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, or Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles.
Northwestern went 7-3 with Persa at the helm and 0-3 without him. Still, he was just 3-3 as a starter in Big Ten play. Have you ever seen a Heisman quarterback that went .500 in conference play? Me neither.
Sure, you could look for Persa to improve on what he did last year, but so might any of the dozen other players named above that were already more productive in yards, touchdowns, and wins. Persa may manage to compete for all-conference honors. However, when the Downtown Athletic Club announces the 2011 Heisman winner, they won't be calling Persa's name. Call it a huge upset if he's even in the room.