It's The Speeches That Get To Smith

Dec. 9, 2006

By Adam Caparell



Adam is's football editor and national football writer.
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NEW YORK - All season long Troy Smith was cool under pressure, but when the time came around to hoist a measly twenty five pounds in the air Saturday, his heart was pounding.


It wasn't that the Ohio State quarterback had no idea he was going to be named the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner. Heading into the ceremony it was all but assured that Smith was going home with the most prestigious award in college football. His heart was pounding because he was worried about his speech and how tough it was going to be not forgetting all the people he wanted to thank.


"A lot of thoughts and a lot of feelings were rushing through my head as well as my heart," Smith said, "being in the situation to be able to thank everybody that was integral to me being here and being a part of Ohio State's legacy."


That was the only reason Smith had to sweat. He was the runaway winner over Arkansas' Darren McFadden and Notre Dame's Brady Quinn and he did so in nearly historic fashion.


Smith won by 1,662 points, the second highest margin of victory in Heisman history. He garnered 801 first place votes out of a possible 924, receiving the highest percentage of first place votes in history and the second most first place votes ever. Only O.J. Simpson received more first place votes in 1968 and only Reggie Bush, last year's winner, received more possible percentage points than Smith.  


McFadden and Quinn were prohibitive underdogs in the race and both said if they had a vote it would have gone to Smith.


"I'm still in awe over this situation right now," Smith said.


From the "mean streets of Cleveland" to the Big Apple for the first time, Smith acknowledged he had come a long way from his foster child days to his reuniting with his mother. He talked a lot about the guidance he received from teammate Ted Ginn, Jr.'s father, Ted Sr., who Smith considers his father.


"So many people have helped mold me into the man that I am today," Smith said. "I didn't get a chance to thank all of them and that hurts me. I don't believe in writing speeches. I think anytime you get the chance to speak, speak from the heart. Let everybody know how you feel that way. Besides, you can mess up something you write, anyway."


But there was very little he messed up during the season. Smith threw for 2,507 yards and an Ohio State record 30 touchdowns - with only five interceptions - leading the Buckeyes to the No. 1 ranking, his third straight win over Michigan and a berth in the national championship game.


And for as big a team guy as there is in college football, you couldn't blame Smith for basking in his own glory for a few minutes. In fact, he seemed to revel in it.  For a guy who prides himself on not looking back, the Heisman ranked as the crowing achievements of his athletic life.


"This is definitely up at the top right now," Smith said. "I don't live in the past. I live in the present. It's not something that I'll harp on day after day. But this is something I'm very, very blessed to be a part of."


Smith joined one of the most exclusive fraternities in sports and became the first Buckeye to win the award since Eddie George in 1995.


"Now I'm part of that elite group," Smith said.


The one thing Smith made sure of Saturday was to wear a tie with the Ohio State colors, scarlet and grey.


"I needed everybody in the nation to understand and know that I represent these colors," Smith said. "I represent this university, I represent Ohio to the fullest and I wouldn't have it any other way."


Not only did he dedicate the Heisman to his family, his teammates, his coaches and his school, he dedicated his win to an entire state.


"This is a win for everybody, everybody in the state of Ohio," Smith said. "Not just The Ohio State University, everybody in the state of Ohio."


But as quickly as the attention was on Smith, it was shifted back to his team. The BCS Championship Game against Florida is less than a month away and Smith can start to focus solely on the Gators defense with the Heisman firmly in his grasp.


"Finally, now that's out of the way," Smith said. "Now let's move on to preparation for the University of Florida and the national championship."


Chances are his heart will be pounding when he takes the field in Glendale Jan. 8. But if you believe him, the butterflies won't be nearly as bad for Smith as they were picking up that famous statue as he became a college football immortal.



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