Seneca Wallace's next trick -- Heisman
By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist

Heisman Trophy voters, imagine this: Seneca Wallace in a Miami Hurricanes uniform and Ken Dorsey wearing Iowa State's maroon and gold.

Seneca Wallace
All others trail Seneca Wallace in the race for the Heisman Trophy.
Would the 'Canes still be undefeated and ranked No. 1? And would the Cyclones still be 6-1 and in the top 10 for the first time in school history?

Barring a total collapse in the regular season's final 45 days, Seneca Wallace deserves the Heisman Trophy. He shouldn't be robbed of the award because the Cyclones finish the season with a murderous, six-game stretch that will take them to Norman (Oklahoma), Austin (Texas), the Little Apple (Kansas State) and Boulder (Colorado). Missouri and UConn are sprinkled in the middle and at the end.

"I don't think anybody in the country would want that schedule," Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said Wednesday.

No. Wallace won't finish his career with the kind of sparkling won-loss record that will adorn Dorsey's Heisman Trophy résumé. Dorsey has led the 'Canes to 28 straight victories and a 32-1 record as a starting quarterback. He's the winningest quarterback in the history of Miami. He already owns just about every major passing record the school keeps, which is saying something, considering Kosar, Kelly, Testaverde and a few others studied at Miami.

Dorsey will be remembered as Miami's greatest QB. That and a few of Dan Le Betard's frequent flyer miles should earn Dorsey a trip to New York's Downtown Athletic Club to witness Wallace picking up the Heisman Trophy.

Miami's all-time best QB takes a backseat to Seneca Wallace.

You can't judge a quarterback the way you judge a pitcher. I mean, seriously, when did Tim McCarver and Peter Gammons start defining what constitutes an outstanding quarterback? I know I'm risking exposing myself as a former high school teammate of and the last man defending Jeff George, but the won-loss record is overrated as a tool to evaluate a quarterback. A dominant pitcher has much more influence over a baseball game than a dominant quarterback does over a football contest.

Context and perspective are critical when assessing the play of a QB.

Ken Dorsey
Take Ken Dorsey out of Miami, and he's no longer a Heisman contender.
In three seasons as Miami's quarterback, Dorsey has had the luxury of lining up with virtually an NFL starting unit. Eleven Hurricanes had their names called in April's NFL draft, including five 'Canes in the first round. Depending upon who turns pro this year, another seven or eight of Dorsey's teammates will join him in next year's draft.

I don't want to undervalue Dorsey's success -- even though he reminds me of Gino Torretta and Ty Detmer, two of the most undeserving Heisman winners -- but let's be real here. Kirk Herbstreit could walk off the set of ESPN's "College GameDay" this weekend and lead the 'Canes to victory at West Virginia.

Now there's only one reason to believe the Cyclones have a chance to upset No. 2 Oklahoma this weekend. The reason goes by the name "Seneca," although I like to call him "Trick Daddy," because of all the trickeration he can perform on the football field.

You did see Trick Daddy's 130-yard "12-yard" touchdown romp last week against Texas Tech? Criss-crossing the field, Wallace looked like Michael Vick, Barry Sanders and Gale Sayers rolled into one. It might be the most memorable play in college football since Doug Flutie uncorked the Hail Mary that beat Miami.

And Flutie is the perfect comparison. That's who Wallace reminds me of. At 5-feet-10, Wallace is undersized for a Division I quarterback. But he has loads of intangibles, particularly a unique ability to find throwing lanes. His passes rarely get batted down at the line of scrimmage. And despite his Trick Daddy zigzag through the Texas Tech defense, Wallace is a passer more than he is a runner. He leads the Big 12 in passing efficiency (156.03). His most impressive stat is his pass efficiency on third down (195.56). Wallace is at his best when it means the most.

This season, on third down, Wallace is 38 of 55 for 640 yards, six TDs and two interceptions. In the Cyclones' lone defeat, a controversial loss to Florida State (Wallace appeared to cross the goal line for a would-be game-tying TD in the final seconds but the refs blew the call), Wallace completed 10 of 12 passes for 165 yards and one score on third downs.

It's that type of clutch performance that has Iowa State, which won just 27 games in the 1990s, the third fewest in D-I, headed to its third straight bowl game

Seneca Wallace
Midas touch no more: Seneca Wallace for 4-for-23 last week.
Heisman voters, remember context.

Dorsey is driving an Escalade, the most successful college football program in the past 20 years. Wallace is the driving force for a program that in 1994 finished 0-10-1 and lost home games to Northern Iowa, Western Michigan and Rice. It was just four short years ago that an Iowa State defensive back, Dustin Avey, bawled his eyes out because he thought he cost McCarney his job when he dropped an interception that would've beaten one of John "Shake-N" Blake's awful Oklahoma squads.

It wasn't that long ago that the Cyclones were rank and on the brink. And, even though I don't think it will happen, the 'Clones could fall from the rankings and return to the brink when Wallace packs his bags for the NFL. Trick Daddy isn't surrounded by NFL talent. Traditionally Iowa State has a terrific tailback and ground attack. This year, ISU's running backs are nothing more than blitz protection for Wallace.

Is anyone concerned about what will happen to Miami when Dorsey leaves?

"Seneca elevates the play of everybody on the team," McCarney acknowledges. "He inspires everybody with his poise, ability and leadership. Seneca is our leader in our march toward changing the football history at Iowa State."

A victory over Oklahoma on Saturday would change ISU's football history. Given the Cyclones' schedule, victories in three of their six remaining games would be a sensational finish. If Wallace somehow manages to lead ISU to four wins, he should be the landslide winner of the Heisman Trophy. That would give Trick Daddy a two-year record of 17-8, which is far more impressive than anything Dorsey could accomplish at Miami.

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star (, the host of a morning-drive talk show, "Jason Whitlock's Neighborhood" on Sports Radio 810 WHB ( and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of The Sports Reporters. He can be reached at



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