For those under the impression that promotion of college football players is a latter-day thing, we give you a photograph on the back pages of the Notre Dame media guide.
There, perched on steeds, wearing leather helmets with footballs in hands, are the Four Horsemen--Don Miller, Elmer Layden, Jim Crowley and Harry Stuhldreher.
The photo was orchestrated by a student publicity aide to the fabled coach Knute Rockne, to capitalize on a hoary passage penned by the famous sportswriter Grantland Rice. Rice borrowed from the Biblical references to pestilence, war, famine and death and wrote that the Irish had their own irrepressible forces.
This was 1924, you understand.
No doubt, the Four Horsemen would be amazed by some of the creations of publicists in the near-century that ensued: toy race cars, clocks, full-length posters, oats (yes, oats), billboards in Times Square, notebooks, CDs, videos, etc.
Even as you read this, some enterprising publicist might be shepherding to the post office a shipment of camshafts, sheetrock or garden tools to the nation's media, with the hope of stealing an awards vote or two for his star player.
Nothing too crazy is expected out of Washington to advance the Heisman candidacy of Jake Locker, which is mostly in keeping with the times. In an age of instant media, the assumption has taken hold that if Locker and his team are good enough, he has a chance to win it.
Promotionally speaking, we've come full circle. Notwithstanding the Four Horsemen, there wasn't much traction, or effort, put into early promotions of the Heisman.
Then came the late 1970s and '80s, which saw all sorts of kitschy efforts to capture votes.
Now, save for the obligatory CD or promotional postcard, that era has mostly given way to the reality that nothing will trump simple performance.
"It was necessary 20 or 30 years ago," said Roger Valdiserri, now retired as Notre Dame publicist, a job he held from the mid-1960s to 1995. "There wasn't that much television, ESPN, the Internet, YouTube."
The first man widely credited with successfully winning a Heisman for his candidate was Oregon State publicist John Eggers, who championed Terry Baker in 1962. Eggers didn't promote so much as he informed.
"He was the first on the West Coast to attack the East Coast media with facts and figures," says Rod Commons, longtime Washington State publicist who got his start working under Eggers at OSU.
Every week--through regular mail, yet--Eggers updated media members of Baker's latest exploits.
He had another tack. Back in the day, a team of college all-stars would annually take on the previous year's NFL champion in August at Soldier Field in Chicago, which coincided with the national convention of college sports publicists.
"John always stayed whenever he could and worked the game," Commons said. "He was very good friends with a lot of college football writers around the country."
A spate of promotions eventually emerged, ranging from clever to shameless to loopy. From Clemson, there was a full-sized poster of William "The Refrigerator" Perry (reprised a generation later by the school in 2009 with running back C.J. Spiller); from Oregon, a "Miller Time" digital clock celebrating quarterback Chris Miller; from Brigham Young, an envelope of rolled oats spilling out in the name of center Bart Oates; and also from BYU, cardboard neckties to advance the candidacy of 1990 Heisman winner Ty Detmer.
There have been retro View-Masters from Missouri touting Chase Daniel; model race cars calling attention to Memphis' DeAngelo Williams; and the most hell-bent-for-bravado, Oregon's 10-stories-high billboard of Joey Harrington in the middle of New York City.
Washington State's Ryan Leaf didn't win the Heisman in 1997 -- he finished third behind Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning--but the Cougars had a campaign effective in its simplicity. Media received a single leaf in a large envelope, without any accompanying copy, the contents plucked by football secretaries from maple trees near the first hole of the old golf course at WSU.
Today, the Heisman is presumed to be won on the field, thanks to "College GameDay" and "Mike and Mike in the Morning" and abundant Web sites. Yet name recognition isn't automatic.
"I've said many times, if there was one thing I could do to change things," says Ralph Zobell, former BYU publicist, "I would change the Mountain time zone to the Eastern time zone. That would solve a lot of problems."
Even Jake Locker, who can move mountains and chains, can't do that.