NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Mark Ingram barely had time to adjust his seat and take a drink of water at the start of his pressconference last Sunday before the first of several reporters asked him the inevitable question.
“Mark, are you worried about the so-called ‘Heisman jinx?'”
The 2009 winner didn’t flinch. “I doesn’t faze me at all,” he said.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed this exact same scene before this exact same game. Jason White, Troy Smith, Sam Bradford — all of them got asked the same question prior to their teams’ BCS Championship Game appearances. All of them provided similar answers to Ingram’s.
And all of them promptly laid an egg on the field.
I used to laugh off the “Heisman curse” thing like I do the “SI cover jinx.” It semed more a coincidence than anything. Over the past few years, however, I’ve changed my opinion.
For one thing, it’s hard to argue with the numbers. Heisman winners have gone 1-6 in their ensuing BCS championship appearances. With the exception of 2004 winner Matt Leinart, who turned in a dominant performance in USC’s Orange Bowl win over Oklahoma, guys like Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, White and Smith have performed far below their season-long production level in the big game (see below).