• 68°

Manning has the name, numbers to win Heisman

Eli Manning has the name and the numbers. The Ole Missquarterback is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy which will beawarded Saturday night at 7 p.m., at the Yale Club, located in NewYork City.

To his credit, Manning probably will become a highly successfulquarterback in the NFL. His first professional contract will bringhim millions of dollars. Blessed with good health and few injuriesin college, Manning can enjoy a long, prosperous career in the NFLif he continues to dodge the injury bug.

Like his older brother, quarterback Peyton Manning of theIndianapolis Colts, Eli has inherited the strong talents exhibitedby his father, Archie, a generation earlier at Ole Miss. The legendof Archie Manning was created over 30 years ago in Oxford. Hisoffspring have kept the family name in the headlines.

Eli has broken tons of passing records at Ole Miss. His nationalexposure has been somewhat limited because the Rebels aren’t a Top10 team.

By comparison, Oklahoma quarterback Jason White has been in thesportlight because he is associated with the Sooners, who wereranked No. 1 most of the season. White has been surrounded by agreat supporting cast.

White’s status makes him the No. 1 candidate to win the HeismanTrophy. Six years earlier, Peyton Manning had been a favorite towin the Heisman when he starred for Tennessee but that dream endedin disappointment.

Chris Perry, a tough running back from Michigan; and LarryFitzgerald, a gifted wide receiver from Pittsburgh; are the otherHeisman finalists. Perry should pull a lot of midwestern votes inthe ballot box.

Former Southern Cal quarterback Carson Palmer captured the 2002Heisman. He had the West Coast vote going for him. Like Eli, Palmercaptured the Johnny Unitas Award, which goes to the top seniorquarterback.

Runner-up to Palmer in last year’s voting was Iowa quarterbackBrad Banks who played two years at Hinds Community College beforetransferring. Palmer had 242 first place votes compared to Bankswith 199.

Sports trivia question of the week.

Who finished third in the 2002 voting?

Answer: Larry Johnson of Penn State. Willis McGahee of Miami wasfourth.

More Heisman trivia.

Who beat out Archie Manning in 1970?

Answer: Quarterback Jim Plunkett of Stanford.

Who beat out Peyton Manning in 1997?

Answer: Defensive back Charles Woodson of Michigan. Floridaquarterback Danny Wuerffel had won the 1996 Heisman and voterstraditionally avoided a winner from the same position andconference in consecutive years.

What position have Heisman winners played the last threeyears?

Answer: Quarterback. It was Palmer last year, Eric Crouch ofNebraska in 2001 and Chris Weinke of Florida State in 2000.Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne won it in 1999, following in thefootsteps of 1998 winner Ricky Williams of Texas.

Eli Manning’s talents made the Ole Miss Rebels a popular choicefor the Cotton Bowl. The exposure will benefit him and the Ole Missfootball program immensely.

Already sold out, the Cotton Bowl will be a hot item come Jan. 2in Dallas. Only two days after settling on a matchup of No. 16Mississippi and No. 21 Oklahoma State, the Cotton Bowl soldout.

”We knew that Oklahoma State and Ole Miss would bring hugecrowds, but tickets went even faster that we could have expected,”game chairman Fin Ewing III said Tuesday.

Oklahoma State was picked Sunday and accepted 22,500 tickets.Ole Miss, which accepted an invitation last Wednesday, sold itsallotment of 17,096 tickets.

Meanwhile, Southern Miss fans are eagerly anticipating the AXALiberty Bowl, set for Dec. 31, in Memphis. The Golden Eagles, freshfrom winning the Conference USA championship, will meet theUniversity of Utah Utes in a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.

“You work 364 days a year to have an opportunity to representyour conference as a champion, to come to Memphis to play thechampion from the Mountain West,” said USM head coach Jeff Bower.”The Southern Miss team, fans and alumni are looking forward toit.”

This is Bower’s third trip to Memphis as USM’s head coach. Heled the Golden Eagles to wins in 1997 and 1999 Liberty Bowlgames.

Brookhaven senior defensive end Phillip Tobias has made a verbalcommitment to sign a scholarship with Southern Miss in February.Tobias (6-4, 290), blessed with speed, quickness and strength, wasa major force in the Panthers’ march to the Region 6-4Achampionship and the second round of the state playoffs.

The Panthers lost a 25-20 decision to Wayne County, the eventualstate champion, in the second round. The War Eagles achieved amilestone, winning the 5A title in 2002 and the 4A crown thisyear.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com