28-Year Old Weinke Wins Heisman
by Mike Mitchell
Weinke, who spent six years playing minor league baseball before returning to school in 1997, capped a remarkable back-to-school story when the 28-year-old Florida State quarterback won the Heisman Trophy in one of the closest votes in the history of the award.
Weinke finished off a record-setting season by leading the Seminoles into an Orange Bowl matchup against No. 1 Oklahoma, which they lost 13-2.
He led the nation with a school-record 4,167 yards passing, threw 33 touchdown passes and had only 11 interceptions. He recovered from a serious neck injury late in the '98 season to become the Atlantic Coast Conference's career passing leader with 9,839 yards.
Weinke edged Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel for college football's most coveted individual prize by 76 points in the seventh tightest Heisman race. The closest Heisman vote was Bo Jackson's 45-point victory over Chuck Long in 1985.
Weinke had 369 first-place votes and 1,628 points; Heupel, who led the Sooners to the title game against the Seminoles by passing for 3,392 yards and 20 touchdowns, had 286 first-place votes and 1,552 points.
Purdue quarterback Drew Brees was third, TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson was fourth and Northwestern running back Damien Anderson was fifth in balloting by the 922 Heisman voters.
A breakdown of the voting showed Weinke won four of the six regions - the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, the South and the Midwest. Heupel won the Southwest and the West.
Voters list their top three choices, with a first-place vote worth 3 points; second place 2 points; and third place 1 point.
Michael Vick was sixth, followed by Miami wide receiver Santana Moss, Washington quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, Oregon State running back Ken Simonton and Auburn running back Rudi Johnson.
The last four quarterbacks to win the Heisman played for a team from the state of Florida - Danny Wuerffel (Florida, 1996); Ward; and Gino Toretta (Miami, 1992).
The journey to Heisman fame was a long one for Weinke. He was a 1990 Parade All-American, showed up at Florida State for four days and then signed a $350,000 contract with the Toronto Blue Jays organization. But Bowden wrote and told him if he ever wanted to return just give a call and a scholarship would be waiting.
Six years later, his lone baseball claim to fame was being the first baseman when NBA great Michael Jordan got his first hit in the minors. Discouraged he was no closer to the major leagues than when he started, Weinke's interest in football returned.
True to his word, Bowden gave Weinke a shot, and the Seminoles passed on signing Drew Henson.
In '98, Weinke got his break - starter Dan Kendra injured his knee before the season and was out for the year. In his second start, Weinke threw a school-record six interceptions in a 24-7 loss to North Carolina State.
He didn't throw another interception in his next 218 attempts, then was knocked out for the year in the Virginia game with a serious neck injury that required surgery. Weinke didn't practice again for 10 months and went through the '99 season with a protective brace.
In 1999, despite distractions from a midseason shopping scam by teammates Peter Warrick and Laveraneus Coles, Weinke drove the Seminoles to a perfect 12-0 record and Bowden's second national title.
Also See: All-Time Heisman List
OTHER 2000 AWARD WINNERS
Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player): Dan Morgan, Miami (Fla.)
Fred Biletnikoff Award (wide receiver): Antonio Bryant, Pittsburgh
Dick Butkus Award (linebacker): Dan Morgan, Miami (Fla.)
Walter Camp Award (top player): Josh Heupel, Oklahoma, QB
Lou Groza Award (placekicker): Jonathan Ruffin, Cincinnati
Ray Guy Award (punter): Kevin Stemke, Wisconsin
Vince Lombardi Award (lineman or linebacker): Jamal Reynolds, Florida State, DE
John Mackey Award (tight end): Tim Stratton, Purdue
Robert W. (Tiny) Maxwell Award (top player): Drew Brees, Purdue
Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player): Dan Morgan, Miami (FL), LB
Davey O'Brien Award (quarterback): Chris Weinke, Florida State
Outland Trophy (interior lineman): John Henderson, Tennessee
Dave Rimington Trophy (center): Dominic Raiola, Nebraska
Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back): Jamar Fletcher, Wisconsin
Johnny Unitas Award (senior quarterback): Chris Weinke, Florida State
Doak Walker Award (running back): LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU
Home Depot Coach Of the Year: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Walter Camp Coach Of The Year: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma