It's not often you get the opportunity to talk with a former Heisman Trophy winner, let alone a three-time CFL champion, six-time CFL all-star and an NFL Pro Bowler. This past Wednesday, I spoke with Doug Flutie about a variety of topics, including the 30th anniversary of the "Hail Flutie" play against Miami (the anniversary's date is actually this Sunday), Melvin Gordon's performance last weekend and his Heisman chances, along with talking about the College Football Playoff.
The full audio is in the link below, but here are some excerpts from the great discussion. Did I mention Flutie, who now works for NBC Sports and won the Heisman in 1984, actually drop-kicked a PAT in 2006 as a member of the New England Patriots?
Jake Kocorowski (JK): You talked about a moment in time, and you mentioned the Heisman race, and I think it's a perfect segue into what you saw Saturday afternoon. I was there to cover the game...
Doug Flutie [laughing] (DF): What, you think you guys got somebody that should be in the mix or what?
[We both laugh]
JK: Maybe just a little bit with the 408 yards with Melvin Gordon. Did you get a chance to watch some of the film? Talk about a moment in time.
DF: I haven't watched the game film, but I've seen the highlights and I've seen the games. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. It's just one of those days that just came together and he busted every run. I believe he didn't even touch the ball in the fourth quarter, did he?
JK: No, did not touch it all.
DF: 408 yards in three quarters -- that's pretty impressive. That's pretty amazing. There's no doubt that he's been the workhorse on that team anyway from the beginning of the year. He's going to be in the Heisman mix -- he's got to be considered in the top three or four right now because of that game and because of what he's done during the year.
It is a quarterback-driven game now, and it's easier for quarterbacks to put up the big, flashy numbers when they carry the weight of the team on the shoulders and all that, but I'm not counting him out. Andre Williams last year for Boston College had an amazing year. He went to New York, was in the mix and with this 400-yard game, there's that signature game that gets people's attention.
Even the people that didn't really know a lot about Wisconsin football, or the people that didn't know Melvin Gordon's name -- there's a lot of guys that are great running backs -- but that 400-yard game is gonna get everybody's attention right away. He's gonna have another high-profile game or two to get more attention, so he's got a shot.
JK: Who's your Heisman front-runner then? Is it Marcus Mariota out of Oregon? Do you think it's Mariota that leads right now?
DF: I think it is. Boy, the numbers he's put up, the way he's carried his team, the consistency factor. You talk about Jameis Winston down in Florida State, still staying undefeated, but he's thrown a lot of interceptions this year and starting to slide in that regard, even though they stay undefeated -- he has unbelievable fourth quarters.
If you're just want to look at pure best athlete or best football players in the country, then all of a sudden you're talking Melvin Gordon and maybe Amari Cooper. You go that route of guys that are maybe the best football players. But it's also an kind of an MVP-type of situation where you need to be in the hunt. You need to be in the national picture, and Wisconsin -- where they're ranked inside the Top 20 and they can go higher. They only got two losses, so he can still be in that mix. I don't rule that out.
Dak Prescott down in Mississippi State, they lost a game to Alabama, but you know what, they were right there. He's still in the hunt. It's all unfolding. There's a bias, there's no doubt nowadays -- there's a bias towards quarterbacks, but sometimes if you just want to sit back and say who are the best football players in the country? Right now, Melvin Gordon and Amari Cooper would be those two.
Doug's also teamed up with the Capital One Cup, which is an award given to the top men's and women's collegiate athletic programs -- but also helps give scholarship money to the winners as well. With Wisconsin's football team in the Top 20, and the men's basketball program sitting at No. 3, here's Flutie's thoughts on the Badgers possibly making a big splash in the cup rankings:
The Capital One Cup is an award that's been set up to determine the best in college sports. It's like the ultimate bragging rights for your athletic program top to bottom. So national championships -- the point total for scholarship money, the total of $400,000 in scholarship money given away -- $200,000 for men, $200,000 for women's programs, over 19 men's sports, 20 women's sports. Right now, you're looking at a team inside the Top 20 with big games to go. Let's say the football program can finish in the Top 10, and the basketball program sitting at No. 3 -- now those are big points. To win you a national championship gets you 60 points; to come, say, around fifth is 15 points so it slides -- but to have two major sports in the Top 10 situation, you get into the running in the mix in a hurry. Last year, Florida State -- by winning the national championship in football -- it basically carried them through the year and finished fifth in the Capital One Cup race. So, obviously big time programs, but it's across the board. All of your other non-revenue generating programs or sports also collect sports.