By Barry Janoff
September 1, 2016: Millions of fans across the country are ready for the 2016 college football season.
But the festivities have already started in Nissan's Heisman House, which this year adds NFL rookie Derrick Henry, Tim Tebow and Danny Wuerffel to a roster of returning House members that includes Marcus Mariota, Mark Ingram, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Tim Brown, Tony Dorsett, Eddie George, Charlie Ward, Doug Flutie, George Rogers and Herschel Walker.
The effort, which began in 2011, will see with partner ESPN multi-level activation across TV, print, radio, Internet and social media, in addition to on-campus experiences such as the Heisman House Tour.
The Nissan Heisman House campaign "supports Nissan’s long-standing sponsorship of the Heisman Memorial Trophy Award and the Heisman Trophy Trust, a charitable organization focused on outreach to the underprivileged and underserved," according to Nissan.
"Each year we take our partnership with the Heisman Trust's outstanding charity efforts to a new level, and we continue to enjoy the opportunity to entertain fans with our Heisman House campaign," Jeremy Tucker, vp-marketing communications and media for Nissan North America, said in a statement.
The Heisman House and support for the Heisman Trust was enhanced via a four-year deal signed last year in which Nissan beceme an official sponsor of 100 colleges and universities and a "proud supporter" of select NCAA championships.
Calling it the "widest-reaching sponsorship in the history of collegiate sports," Nissan said the alliance covers "22 men’s and women’s sports, 100 schools, thousands of student-athletes, 22 million alumni and 188 million fans" nationwide.
In addition, Nissan brand Infiniti is an official corporate partner for NCAA men’s basketball. and the Final Four.
The 2016 Heisman House campaign includes four 45-second spots and five 15-second spots. Eight Nissan vehicles will be featured throughout the campaign, including the Rogue, Titan and Armada, which Nissan said is part of its "Year of the Truck" focus.
The Nissan Heisman House Tour features a simulated Heisman House that will travel to different college campuses throughout the U.S. leading up to the College Football Playoff National Championship in January.
The Tour provides fans an opportunity to enjoy the Heisman House living room, take photos with the Trophy, and meet Heisman Trophy winners as well as ESPN on-air talent.
The first Heisman House Tour stop is scheduled for Sept. 4 for the Notre Dame vs. Texas game at DKR Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.
Nissan also unveiled for the second season its Diehard Fan App, which enables people to virtually paint their game face using a smartphone or tablet (iOS and select Android devices).
"Updates to Nissan's Diehard Fan mobile app brings even more excitement this fall as college sports swing into action," said Tucker. "This is just one way to unleash your team colors anywhere, anytime, and engage with Nissan and our College 100 Sponsorship of men's and women's college sports programs throughout the U.S."
Former Heisman Trophy winners, some of whom are current NFL players or analysts, enjoy the camaraderie that the campaign brings.
"The Heisman House is really fun, a great way to get together with friends and former teammates and rivals,' said Eddie George, who won the Heisman in 1995 with Ohio State before going on to a stellar career in the NFL. "(At 42) I'm in really good shape and it's interesting to see which of the other guys look as if they still could compete on the football field — or not!"
The lead spot for the 2016 effort, "Welcome to the House," follows a drone set off by Derrick Henry, who won the Heisman in 2015 with Alabama and is now a rookie with the Tennessee Titans, that files from room to room, unveiling what activities — some more weird than others — the residents are undertaking, played out to Thin Lizzy's "Boys Are Back In Town."
The guys get their revenge on Henry in "Heisman House Garage" when they explain that rookies to the House must wash the dozens of Nissans available for their use.
"Go Deep" finds Flutie hosting a faux interview show in which guest Tim Brown talks about all the ways in which he scored during his 1987 Heisman season at Notre Dame. "But not with a Hail Mary," chides Flutie, who won the Heisman in 1984, evoking his iconic game-winning pass for Boston College that season against Miami.
Tim Tebow, currently seeking to find a place in baseball, gets to live out another dream in "Tebow's Dream": Creating a new musical genre with fellow Miami athlete Danny Wuerffel, complete with classic MTV-style hair, cars and women.
Derrick Henry gets his own payback in the "Derrick Henry Effect," in which Mark Ingram, Marcus Mariota and Doug Flutie suddenly become small by comparison when Henry enters a room.
According to Tuicker, "This year's great cast of roommates will not disappoint and there are a number of surprises in store as we let them loose to showcase their talents, both as the top football players of their eras and as winning performers and media personalities today."
Nissan Unveils NCAA Deal With 100 Schools
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