Peterson, White court votes with stats

Updated: November 11, 2004, 3:35 PM ET
Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. -- Don't look for any larger-than-life images of Jason White on New York buildings. An Internet search for an official "Adrian Peterson for Heisman" Web site will get you nowhere. In this campaign, even the candidates aren't stumping for themselves.

So, what gives?

For all the talk around town about which of Oklahoma's two superstars deserves college football's most prestigious individual award, neither one is pushing for the honor except by putting up impressive numbers each Saturday.

That's just fine with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. In fact, that's the way he thinks it should be. Each week, the No. 2 Sooners include a few paragraphs about both White and Peterson in their usual weekly media briefing. It's nothing overstated, and nothing out of the ordinary.

"We've never had any billboards or anything crazy," Stoops said. "We've always been very appropriate."

Stoops said he prefers not to create a lot of hoopla. All that's needed is a simple comparison of the top candidates.

"I think that's the right thing to do, is make sure the information's there and that's it," Stoops said.

The coach won't get much argument from his players. White's quick to dismiss any chatter about his Heisman candidacy so he can talk about his hopes of winning the Big 12 title and national championship that got away from him last year.

He's already got one Heisman Trophy, and his name's on the water tower back home in Tuttle. Another one might be nice, but a national title would be so much more special.

White's already said he'd probably vote for Peterson in the Heisman balloting -- and as a past winner, he does get a vote. One thing's for sure, he won't be checking the box for himself.

"That's not me," he says.

Not that he's unqualified. The humble sixth-year senior has thrown for 2,130 yards and 25 touchdowns with only four interceptions and leads Southern Cal's Matt Leinart in all three categories (Leinart has 2,068 passing yards with 20 TDs and five interceptions). In the past four games, including three on the road, he's thrown 16 touchdown passes and one interception while averaging 289 yards per game.

But White isn't using the stats as the platform for his campaign. He says he thinks voters should look for "everything" when they consider who should win the Heisman, and that means more than just stats.

"You just have to watch for yourself," White said. "You can't look at stats or anything like that. You have to watch a person play."

That's where Oklahoma's stature comes in handy for White and Peterson. While the Sooners aren't advertising for their candidates, they do play most of their games on national television -- either on the networks or on cable -- so the candidates have plenty of chances to be seen by voters.

Peterson has made his most noise against Oklahoma's biggest rivals, which also happen to be the most attention-grabbing matchups. After rushing for 225 yards against Texas -- more than twice Cedric Benson's 92 yards -- he then piled up 249 against Oklahoma State.

"I don't think there's any question a lot of people have seen Adrian and his abilities," Stoops said. "Look what he's done in some of our biggest games. Look what he did in the Texas game head-to-head with Cedric Benson. And I think Cedric Benson is a heck of a player. Believe me, he is. But so is Adrian, and everybody has seen that."

Stoops says he feels obligated to stick up for his players if analysts ignore how White and Peterson compare with other Heisman candidates, but he's not going to go out of his way to campaign for either one.

"I'm not going to be part of choosing ... between the two," Stoops said. "I think what's fantastic for our team and for our offense is that they both are such great players and complement one another. And they both as team guys have been very unselfish and really don't care about who's getting what."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press