Grier For Heisman Campaign Underway
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — You have to go back to the middle of last season when WVU quarterback Will Grier was lighting up the college football sky with his Fourth of July style fireworks.
It was a Tuesday afternoon, a moment when the players and coaches gather in the season with the media for an interview session.
At that time someone wondered if WVU might not be ready to start a Heisman Trophy campaign for Grier, who seemed as if he was generating enough national attention to possibly be the man who ended the Mountaineers’ disappointment when it came to Heisman voting.
Mike Montoro, football sports information director, indicated then that there were no plans and probably wouldn’t be, that in today’s social media world you really don’t need to go out of your way to get a players’ name and statistics out; they are a mouse click away from everyone and everyone.
Besides, every game is on TV somewhere and there is so much talk radio and television that a Heisman contender is hardly unknown any longer.
The talk, however, fizzled when WVU limped home to a 7-6 season, ending it with Grier’s hand in a cast from a nasty break of his finger against Texas.
”Will Grier is the right person at the right time and he’s done the right things.” — West Virginia University football sports information director Mike Montoro on why they have decided to do a Heisman Trophy campaign for quarterback Will Grier.
There was worry, too, that Grier would not risk further injury and enter the NFL draft, but he instead felt he had unfinished business at the school that refused to turn its back on him after he was suspended at Florida for inadvertently taking an unapproved substance.
“It was Dana’s idea from the start,” Montoro said Saturday as he awaited his turn at a local barber shop. “It started with him. He said Will had set himself apart. He’s the best quarterback in college football, the most valuable player.”
And so it was a committee was formed — yes, even in college athletics you can’t get anything done without first putting together a committee — to come up with the plan.
He announced in December he would return and in early January Holgorsen joined in with deputy athletic director Keli Zinn to get the ball rolling on the campaign that was launched Saturday with the website Grier7Heisman.com.
The 7 is for Grier’s uniform number and it runs throughout the website, beginning with its introduction seven weekends before this year’s opener against Tennessee back home Charlotte, N.C..
“We came up with an overall theme for the Campaign, which was “Will to Win”. We based a lot off his number, which is 7. We came up with the 7 character traits which we based the campaign around.,” Montoro said.
The Will to Prepare
The Will to Love
The Will to Compete
The will to Succeed
The Will to Lead
The Will to Give
The Will to Finish
But let us for a moment get back to the decision to go in this direction.
Yes, a Heisman Trophy does many things for a school’s football program.
“It gives you publicity,” Montoro said. “The class it puts you in, it puts you up on a pedestal, basically saying you have a successful football program with successful players.”
But there are dangers, too.
One of them would be of great interest to Holgorsen, for it can cause jealousies and ruptures within the locker room when you single out one player above all others for such an honor and promote him all year.
Grier, however, isn’t the kind of player to allow that to happen.
“He’s very level headed, very even keeled, strong character. He has the right “IT” factor in every area on and off the field,” Montoro explained. “That’s [the reason for] the campaigns, with the way he set himself apart, but we don’t forget the other players.
“A Heisman campaign is a total team effort. We are not forgetting about promoting our other players who are deserving. It takes everyone to win a Heisman. David Sills is one of the best players in college football. So is Gary Jennings, Yodny Cajuste and the supporting cast.”
And there is not only promotion for other players, but for his family, showing the family values which he exudes that include his father, who coached him, a wife and daughter.
Perhaps the best sign of what kind of person Grier is to be afforded this campaign is that he has managed to rehabilitate his image after the suspension at Florida. Something like that can provide long term damage to one’s reputation and work as a negative in such a situation as running for the Heisman Trophy, but Grier’s play, persona and morality has allowed him to regain the nation’s trust.
Campaigns like this have not worked very well at WVU in the past, as John Antonik, the director of digital media, noted in making the announcement of the website.
The first promotional campaign Antonik found went back to the mid-1950s when SID Rene Henry produced short informational films promoting such stars as Fred Wyant, Joe Marconi and Bruce Bosley for All-American.
WVU Hall of Fame SID Eddie Barrett once tried to get Sports Illustrated’s college basketball writer to come to see Jerry West but he begged off saying it was too hard to get to Morgantown then.
In the 1970s they tried to push Danny Buggs, an All-American receiver, but the team’s poor records kept tht from happening and in the 1980s, Jeff Hostetler was singled out, attired in a cowboy outfit and with a 45 — OK, you don’t remember them — record with a theme song Ole Hoss, The Ballad of West Virginia’s Jeff Hostetler.
Hostetler, however, became far more famous when he won the Super Bowl as the New York Giants quarterback, filling in for injured Phil Simms.
Five years later, sophomore quarterback Major Harris placed fifth in the Heisman Trophy race in 1988, necessitating another Heisman push the following year in 1989.
SID Shelly Poe put together that campaing, following the Mountaineers’ run to the national championship game, which they lost to Notre Dame when Harris was injured, but he finished third behind winner Andre Ware and runner-up Anthony Thmpson.
In 2006 running back Steve Slaton finished fourth in the Heisman voting and the next year quarterback Pat White finished sixth, pushing WVU to run a campaign for him in his senior season
They put together the website PatWhitePlaysHere.com but White did no better than finishing seventh that season.
Now it is Grier’s turn to try and get WVU its first Heisman Trophy and, there are many who believe he can, as noted on the website as they quote the nation’s top national writers on their feelings about Grier.
“In a season where there are scant obvious choices for preseason All-America, quarterback Will Grier stands out,” says CBS.com’s Dennis Dodd. “It’s clear he made the perfect choice in transferring to West Virginia. The coaching he has gotten their from Dana Holgorsen and Jake Spavital has made him one of the nation’s best. Only seven players had more touchdown passes than his 34. I’m looking for a dominant season from a first-class guy.”
And so is the entire state of West Virginia.