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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Awarding Hardware

Over the past week, college football handed out most of its major awards, including the Heisman Trophy. While the Heisman was awarded to Alabama running back Derrick Henry, the two other finalists, Clemson's Deshaunn Watson and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, were strong candidates who very well may have hoisted the hardware in other years.

While the Heisman is the best known award of its kind, I've never been a fan of those who use it as a shorthand for other sports' major awards, like calling the Hermann soccer's Heisman or the Tewaaraton lacrosse's Heisman. I've even heard the Sudler Trophy referred to as the Heisman Trophy for college marching bands, and while I'm similarly hesitant to do that, I've come across one parallel I hadn't previously been able to articulate.

Each year, as I put together the Big Band Bowl Battle, I take note of how many bowl games match a pair of Sudler Trophy winners. This year the mark sits at eight - nine, if Oklahoma wins their semifinal matchup - but I always feel as though I'm giving undue weight to the Sudler by pointing this out. I've acknowledged my own Sudler Fallacy, and yet I keep coming back. And this is what struck me about its parallel with the Heisman: When you've got one, it will always be mentioned. ESPN's Ivan Maisel has noted that it will be in the first paragraph of each winner's obituary. I tend to treat the Sudler Trophy the same way.

I always like to point out that there are many strong bands out there that haven't won the Sudler Trophy, and that there are exciting band matchups where neither school has won one. Much like the Heisman, not every great player or band has won one, but no one who has won isn't a great player or band.
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