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On This Date in Sports December 11, 2000: The Oldest Heisman

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Chris Weinke of Florida State wins the Heisman Trophy, beating Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel by 76 votes. At the age of 28, Weinke is the oldest player to win the Heisman Trophy. The Florida State quarterback took a circuitous route to the Heisman. Choosing to play minor league baseball instead of football. However, after failing to reach the majors, Chris Weinke accepted a scholarship from the Seminoles that remained opened and had a successful college career leading Florida State to a National Championship in 1999. 

Christopher Jon Weinke was born on July 31, 1972, in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was a multisport star in High School, playing baseball, football, and hockey. Chris Weinke was a parade All-American and heavily recruited at quarterback, with 70 top schools looking to land a top-rated quarterback recruit. Weinke chose Florida State and was ready to begin his career in 1990. However, after being selected in the second round of the MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, Chris Weinke decided to pursue a baseball career. 

Despite leaving Florida State behind, coach Bobby Bowden promised Chris Weinke the scholarship would remain open if his baseball dreams did not work out. Weinke had moderate success in the Blue Jays system, but the road to the majors was long. After six years and never playing above AAA, he decided to end his baseball dream and enroll at Florida State in 1997.

Chris Weinke played sparingly in his freshman season but took over the starting job in 1998 after Thad Busby graduated. Ironically, Busby had been drafted to play baseball by the Blue Jays in 1993 but never signed to play and went directly to Florida State. Weinke struggled early as the Seminoles were upset by NC State in Week 2. However, Florida State quickly turned their season around and reached the #2 ranking and played Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl, losing 23-16. However, Weinke was not under center, suffering a neck injury late in the season.

With Chris Weinke under center, Florida State had their finest season in 1999. Weinke defied the experts and recovered completely from neck surgery and a long six-month recovery. The Seminoles had their first unbeaten season, beating Virginia Tech 46-29 in the Sugar Bowl to win their second National Championship. The Seminoles would reach the BCS National Championship Game for the third straight season in 2000, overcoming an early-season loss to rival Miami. This time they would come up short, losing to Oklahoma 13-2 at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Chris Weinke earned the Heisman Trophy, passing 4,167 yards with 33 touchdowns in his rookie season. 

Chris Weinke was selected in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He won his rookie game but lost his next 17 starts. He would spend much of the remainder of his career on the bench, playing with the Panthers until 2006, before spending his final season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2007. After retiring, Weinke went into coaching and serves as quarterbacks coach at Tennessee.