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What If The Band Hadn't Been On The Field?

John Elway destroyed Oregon St. while he played for Stanford, but bad luck denied him the Heisman.
John Elway destroyed Oregon St. while he played for Stanford, but bad luck denied him the Heisman.

As we discussed last week, EA Sports NCAA Football 13 is out, and has a cool feature that allows you to put any Heisman Trophy winner on "your" team. But what about all those great players who didn't quite win the Heisman? There's certainly been a long list of players who were deserving, would not have been a surprise or a bad choice had they won, and could certainly upgrade "your" team as well.

Some were "snubbed", more were the victim of relatively limited media exposure, and some were just "unlucky" enough to play at the same time as some other all-time greats. EA Sports asked a number of us who we thought was the most deserving of the non-winners, and there were plenty of writers who can talk about the injustice of Texas's Vince Young being bypassed, despite beating USC in the Rose Bowl for the 2005 season National Championship, and both the reining winner Reggie Bush and the immediate prior winner Matt Leinart in the process.

Others will take up the case for Boise St.'s Kellen Moore, who was in the running several times, but never won, despite winning more college football games than anyone else who has ever played quarterback, including one Oregon St. fans won't forget.

I thought I'd reach back a little farther, and keep it in the Pac. Anybody remember John Elway before he became a Bronco (Denver variety) or a professional baseball player?

Elway is by any reasonable measure one of the best quarterbacks of all time, college or pro, something Beaver fans know as well as anyone. After all, the 3 most high scoring offensive outings by the then Indians during Elway's 3 last seasons down on "the farm" all came against Oregon St. Those were some bad Beaver ball clubs back during the dark days, but those were still some epic beat downs.

Which is especially notable, because those were not good Stanford teams. (Those who have only discovered Pac-12 football in the last couple of years, when the Cardinal have been BCS bowl teams, might not realize it, but 'Furd was far from impressive for much of their history.

Elway only experienced 1 winning season, a 6-5 sophomore campaign in 1980, during his collegiate career, and never went to a bowl game.

So why should he be a Heisman overlook? Because he was "that good", despite having little support, and less luck, something which would only come to Palo Alto in more recent times.

The same folks who argue against Moore for no reason other than Boise St. beat inferior competition would say only 1 winning season in his college career must mean Elway, a future Super Bowl MVP, wasn't "elite" as a collegian. These people are using the same logic that would decide Usain Bolt didn't really run fast if he dropped into a "twilight track meet" down the road and set a new world record just because there was no one else there who could keep up with him. These people mostly never saw Elway (or Moore) up close as they did things no one else had done before either.

The Pac-10 Player of the Year in both 1980 and 1982, Elway led the nation in his senior season in touchdown passes, with 24.

When he graduated, he held virtually all the conference passing and total offense marks, and this in a conference already known for offense, and that had already produced 3 Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks.

In fact, it was Elway who was the favorite to win the Heisman as the season wound down, not Georgia's Herschel Walker, who ultimately claimed the trophy.

And it appeared Elway had cemented it with an apparent game winning drive in "The Big Game." Trailing 19-17 on the road against the Golden Bears, Elway led Stanford into position for the field goal that gave them a 20-19 lead, and would have locked up a second winning season.

But Elway was a tad too efficient, leaving scant seconds still on the clock. And he was unlucky enough to see the game, a winning season, and the Heisman all slip away.

Remember this play?

Cal claimed the 25-20 win, and the satisfaction of denying a player from the arch rival the Heisman all at once.

What if the Leland F. Stanford Jr. Marching Band had not gone on the field too soon, and the "Most Incredible Play Ever" hadn't been quite so incredible?

(For NCAA Football 14, EA Sports really needs to consider being able to add your favorite "onto the field game disrupting event" to their system!)

This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.

EA SPORTS NCAA Football 13 TV: "Son" (via EASPORTS)