Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Diagnosis: Acute Laurinaitis

Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis was a sure first round pick for the 2008 draft, but the Junior opted to remain in school for a final season. Not only will his senior year give he and his 3rd ranked Buckeyes the opportunity to redeem themselves of championship failures, but he’s also building on the media frenzy that surrounds him. His popularity is without question, and has reached such heights that Athlon Sports has the senior linebacker on Heisman watch.

Laurinaitis is already a candidate for many defensive awards, but placing him as a Heisman candidate is stretching it a bit. Okay, maybe not “a bit”. It’s reaching into space and grasping air. The national media can now be diagnosed with acute Laurinaitis, with symptoms being severe man-love for a highly publicized defensive player on one of America’s best teams. As a defensive player, his name alone will not bring home that hardware. To bring that trophy home, he would have to establish himself as the most dominant defensive force in all of college football. He would have to be the face of Ohio State football, the difference between winning and losing, the pass deflecting, quarterback sacking, run stopping, intercepting Buckeye with a plethora of helmet stickers. Oh, and while doing all of that, it may help to find a way to score some points out of it all. Twice he’s played on college football’s biggest stage, and twice he was shadowed by the likes of Harvey and Dorsey, emerging as the greater defensive stars in championship games.

Michigan’s Charles Woodson is the only primarily defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy. Pittsburgh’s Hugh Green finished second in 1980. LSU’s Glenn Dorsey, college football’s ultimate defensive force in 2007, received votes but not nearly enough to be a finalist. There’s no way Laurinaitis can have the same defensive impact on the game from the linebacking position as Dorsey had as a defensive tackle, so to even list him as a candidate is more about publicity, notoriety, and offseason space filling articles (I prefer the use of cheerleaders) than it is about potential to actually bring the stiff-armer home.

Laurinaitis for Heisman? Nah, it’s not happening.

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