Mark Ingram makes Alabama history with Heisman
- Ralph D. Russo, AP College Football Writer
December 12, 2009
NEW YORK — Mark Ingram completed the trophy case at Alabama,
delivering the first Heisman to a school that boasts one of the
richest histories in college football.
Alabama running back Mark Ingram speaks after being named the 75th
Heisman Trophy winner on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009.
- AP Photo/Kelly Kline, Pool
The tough-running sophomore tailback turned tearful after winning the
Heisman Trophy on Saturday night in the closest vote in the award's
75-year history. Next, he'll try to lead the most storied program in
the South to a national championship.
Ingram finished 28 points ahead of Stanford running back Toby Gerhart.
Ingram wiped away tears and took a moment to steady himself before
starting his speech. His voice wavered throughout.
"I'm a little overwhelmed right now," he said. "I'm just so excited
to bring Alabama their first Heisman winner."
Ingram received 227 first-place votes and 1,304 points. Gerhart got
222 first-place votes and 1,276 points, while Texas quarterback Colt
McCoy, last season's runner-up, received 203 and 1,145.
Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was fourth and Florida
quarterback Tim Tebow, who won the Heisman two years ago, was fifth.
The previous closest vote in Heisman history came in 1985, when
Auburn's Bo Jackson beat Iowa quarterback Chuck Long by 45 points.
Ingram won four of the six regions. Gerhart took the far west and Suh
won the southwest.
Ingram has been the backbone of Alabama's offense all season, rushing
for a school-record 1,542 yards, gaining 6.2 yards per carry and
scoring 18 touchdowns.
And in his final chance to make a case for the Heisman, facing
Florida's then-top-ranked defense, Ingram ran for 113 yards and
scored three touchdowns to punctuate his season.
The win sent the top-ranked Crimson Tide to the BCS national title
game against McCoy and No. 2 Texas on Jan. 7 at the Rose Bowl.
Ingram is the third consecutive sophomore to win the Heisman since
Tebow became the first in 2007 and he will be the sixth winner in the
last seven years to go on to play in the BCS national championship
Few college football teams can match Alabama's history of success.
The Crimson Tide dominated the Southeastern Conference for decades.
With six AP national championships, only Notre Dame and Oklahoma have
But at Alabama, it's a coach who has towered over the program more
than any player.
Bear Bryant led some of college football's greatest players — from
Joe Namath to John Hannah, Ken Stabler to Ozzie Newsome — but never
had a player even finish in the top three of the Heisman voting over
his more than three decades at Alabama.
David Palmer, the shifty receiver and return man, was third in the
Heisman voting in 1993, the best finish by a Crimson Tide player.
No major college program had won more games without a Heisman winner.
"Everybody that's been in the Alabama family has been supporting me,"
Ingram said. "Walking to class, students flashed me the Heisman pose."
Now he can take his place among Alabama's greats and the Paul W.
Bryant Museum has a new piece of a hardware to display.
The announcement that Ingram had won came minutes before the Alabama
men's basketball team was set to host No. 5 Purdue, prompting an
immediate roar from the mostly full Coleman Coliseum.
Even though the presentation wasn't shown on the videoboard, fans
instantly found out the news. The public-address announcer
congratulated Ingram early in the game, bringing another big ovation.
One young fan sat at courtside sporting a 22 jersey — Ingram's
number — with "Heisman" across the top.
By midway through the first half, Heisman T-shirts were already on
sale at the arena.
Ingram came to Tuscaloosa from Flint, Mich., the son of the former
Michigan State and NFL receiver of the same name. Tide coach Nick
Saban had coached the elder Ingram in college.
"My father has been a great influence on my life and I love him to
death," Ingram said on the podium.
The father has seen his son quickly blossom into a feature back. As a
freshman last season, Ingram was Bama's No. 2 back, with a nose for
the goal line. He ran for 728 yards and a team-high 12. This season,
he's been the best weapon on an offense with a first-year starting
quarterback and a rebuilt offensive line.
And he's been at his best against most of Alabama's best competition.
He opened the season with 150 yards rushing and two TDs against
Virginia Tech, had 172 yards rushing at Mississippi, and set a
Bryant-Denny Stadium record with 246 yards versus South Carolina.
In what was billed as the year of the quarterback — with Tebow, McCoy
and last year's Heisman winner Sam Bradford — all returning to
college, Ingram emerged as the Heisman front-runner at midseason.
His only poor game, a 30-yard rushing performance against Auburn on
Nov. 27, came at the worst time and in front of a national television
But with the Tide playing in the biggest game of the season, a No. 1
vs. No. 2 SEC championship against Florida, Ingram had one more chance
to impress voters — and he delivered.
Tide fans like to say their team is about winning championships, not
Thanks to Ingram, Alabama might get both this season.