Tonight Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy and broke the barrier for all underclassman who came close but couldn't claim the award for most outstanding college football player.
Tebow had a ridiculous season. Absolutely insane. He both threw and ran for more than 20 touchdowns - the first player ever to do so. But when he went up there to accept the award, I couldn't help but feel for Darren McFadden. The Arkansas running back finished as the Heisman running up two years in a row. This season he finished with the highest percentage of the vote ever received by a runner up.
McFadden just finished his junior year. As a sophomore in 2006, he lost the Heisman to Ohio State's Troy Smith. McFadden had a great 2006 and could have won the Heisman as a sophomore had a sophomore previously won the award. This season he played very well again, but the numbers Tebow put up spoke volumes about that Gator's performance.
Because Tebow has now taken the award home as a sophomore, more sophomores - and even freshmen - winners will begin to show up. No it won't happen all the time. After all, the juniors and seniors have the extra years of experience to build on. But when underclassmen have the sensational seasons comparable to Tebow (2007), McFadden (2006), and even Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson (as a freshman in 2004), they will get more of a chance to take home 25 pounds of bronze.
There won't be a ton of underclassmen winners. Decades to come will still produce numerous more upperclassmen winners than youngsters, but freshmen and sophomores won't be shut out completely.
Tebow has opened the doors. It's a shame, however, that super seasons past underclassmen put up did not get recognized with a Heisman. But because it has now happened - a sophomore has taken the Heisman home - it will no longer take a Herculean season by an underclassman. From now on, they will be judged based upon their performance that year instead of weighting their score based on their age.