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Heisman hype varies by school

By GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 30, 2001

Florida's Rex Grossman and Miami's Ken Dorsey make their final cases for the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, and for both front-runners, it's probably better that the award will be decided on the playing field and not the Internet.

Admirably, the official sites for both schools have gone out of their way not to directly hype their quarterbacks for the Heisman. The universities now can smartly say their leaders did the campaigning on Saturdays, but look closely and you can find a smattering of praise tucked into the team sites.

The football page at gatorzone.com is void of any Rex-ploitation -- to find info on Grossman, fans must click on a vague "Headline Players" link, then scroll down alphabetically past pages on five players before finding a three-page tribute to Grossman's talents.

At hurricanesports.com, Dorsey is pictured but not named on a "Miami Awards" link on the main page. Dorsey is one of six Hurricanes featured here, with a letter to fans, endorsements from Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno and dozens of news stories.

Miami registered kendorsey11.com before the season but did not give the junior a domain of his own, a luxury afforded to just a few candidates. Other universities aren't as bashful in promoting a player who can put the national spotlight on their campus.

Oregon fawns over its quarterback at joeyharrington.net, where the intro page shows his towering Times Square billboard coming to life and throwing a pass. Once you've put a player on scale with the Statue of Liberty, why be modest online? There are five Joey Harrington wallpaper designs -- one of which shows Harrington flanked by four other pictures of himself -- and quickly-annoying "HUT!" sounds when your mouse scrolls over a link. Best of all, in asking fans what factor will most help Harrington's Heisman hopes, the site offers "Publicity Efforts" as a choice. Seventeen people chose the hype over the incumbent, "Team's Success" (80 percent), and emerging challenger "Statistics" (14 percent).

Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson has overcome the small-school stigma to rank second in online balloting at voteheisman.com, where the most popular selection will earn an official first-place vote. BYU put a link to the voting page at byucougars.com, which surely has helped quarterback Brandon Doman, who ranks third in the voting, ahead of Dorsey and Grossman. GSU also has a special site for Peterson at apforheisman.com.

"He might not go to New York, but a lot of people got to read a pretty neat story about a kid who has everything that's right about college football," assistant athletic director Tom McClellan said.

Marshall has helped quarterback Byron Leftwich's campaign with leftwichqb.com, complete with a 25-picture photo gallery and 25-minute video interview.

As for who will win Dec. 8, Grossman has six of nine first-place votes from the panel at ESPN.com's Heisman Watch, and Sportsline.com's Dennis Dodd and CNNSI.com's Ivan Maisel have him atop their lists. TID-BYTES: In a refreshing shift, look for Christmas to move into No. 1 on the most-searched-topic rankings at 50.lycos.com this week, unseating Osama bin Laden. The rankings still have some 21st-century reality checks: The American Flag, ranked 29th, is still two spots behind Victoria's Secret, and the Bible fell six spots to No. 35, two behind Anna Kournikova. ... What's the Bucs' equipment manager driving these days? A pair of "game-worn pants" from linebacker Shelton Quarles was bidding at $175 on eBay.com on Thursday, while a game-used Dave Moore jersey was at $200. One auction boasts a jersey supposedly worn in a game last year by receiver Frank Murphy. Since Murphy was active for one game, we're wondering why he didn't hold on to that collectible.

-- If you have a question or comment about the Internet or a site to suggest, e-mail staff writer Greg Auman at aumanac1@aol.com.

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