I got a note from Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton in the mail the other day.
OK, it wasn’t an actual note, it was an entire notebook, so that’s even better I suppose.
Keeton, who will lead the Aggies in their 2014 season opener Sunday night at Tennessee, is a Heisman Trophy candidate this season and, as such, he is being marketed to college football media types.
The hope is that we’ll give him some media attention, which I’m about to do.
Look, don’t tell anyone I told you this because we media types are supposed to remain totally impartial at all times, but, uh, I’m a Chuckie Keeton fan. I’d love to see him win the Heisman Trophy later this season.
Heck, I’d love to see Keeton, Utah’s Travis Wilson and BYU’s Taysom Hill finished 1-2-3, or 3-2-1 or 2-3-1 or … well, you get the picture. I don’t care how they finish, I’m just saying it’d be cool to see them be in position to do something like that.
It’s not gonna happen, mind you. Still, imagine if it did.
The truth of it is, of the three, Keeton is actually on some preseason watch lists and therefore considered a legitimate “candidate.” Admittedly, at best he’s a longshot to even get invited to New York City’s Downtown Athletic Club, where they’ll present the award in early December. But he was named to some watch lists last season and was getting some media buzz before going down with a season-ending knee injury.
He’s healthy again and back on the lists, which is why I’m currently looking at a nice blue notebook with Keeton’s picture on it and the words “Chuckie4Heisman” along the bottom. It also touts a pretty nifty website “ChuckieKeeton.USU.edu” as well as Instragram (Chuckie4Heisman) and Twitter (@Chuckie4Heisman) accounts.
There’s also a Chuckie Keeton Facebook page, which I “liked” last year (just sayin’).
Don’t for a second think the Aggies are the only school touting their guy for the Heisman Trophy. Heisman marketing campaigns have been around a long time, some with a little more cash behind them than others.
Such campaigns, which have included small little trinkets (think: notebooks, bobblehead dolls, diecast toy cars, highlight DVDs, etc.), websites, social media pages and even Times Square billboards.
The folks down at BYU once sent out blue ties to push Ty Detmer’s campaign and later mailed out DVDs of Brandon Doman as “The Dominator,” complete with Doman posing a little like Russell Crowe in the movie “Gladiator.”
And in the ultimate Heisman marketing campaign, in 1970 Notre Dame’s sports information director convinced quarterback Joe Theismann (then known as Th-HEES-mann) to change the pronunciation of his last name so it rhymed with Heisman.
(For those scoring at home, ol’ Joe finished second to Stanford’s Jim Plunkett that year. Jim won the trophy but, hey, Theismann got to keep his new last name.)
Of course some Heisman winners just sort of materialize, coming out of nowhere to win the award.
In 2012, Johnny Manziel (pardon me for using his name here, I know many or you are tired of reading it) wasn’t much of a candidate at all, at least not before he beat No. 1 Alabama in November of that year. Then he went right to the front of the line and the folks at Texas A&M quickly took it from there, convincing coach Kevin Sumlin to let his then-redshirt freshman do media interviews (so it’s HIS fault!) and a series of billboards followed, including a huge one in Times Square.
So now, getting back to Chuckie Football (sorry, I couldn’t resist): he’s much more of a Heisman candidate today than Manziel was before that 2012 Alabama game. Granted, it wouldn’t quite be on par with beating No. 1 ‘Bama, but close your eyes for a few seconds, football fans, and imagine what will happen if Keeton and the Aggies upend Tennessee on Sunday.
The notebook is nice, but it’d been nothing compared to that springboard.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo