In Hindsight: 10 Seasons When The Best Football Player in America Did NOT Win The Heisman Trophy

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It’s that time of year; time to start talking about the Heisman race.

We’ve now seen well over half of a season from all the NCAA football players in the nation, and we have some kind of idea who will be in the conversation between now and next month when the award is handed out.

Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Notre Dame’s Manti T’eo, West Virginia’s Geno Smith – all of these guys are in the running right now, as well as a few more.

Image Credit: US Presswire via cbssports.com

As much fun as it is to debate during the season who deserves college football’s most prestigious individual award, it’s even more interesting to look back at Heisman races from years past and see what winners fizzled out after college and what runners-up went on to have fantastic careers in the pro game.

I’m not saying the guys who won these awards didn’t deserve them. Most did.

I’m also not saying that guys who have had great success in the pros should have been considered in the Heisman race when they were in college unless they had seasons in college that were worthy.

For example, Tom Brady is a great NFL quarterback, but I’m not going to argue that he should have been included in the Heisman discussion when he was at Michigan, because he simply wasn’t one of the best college football players in the country.

I’m also not saying that professional success should have anything to do with awarding the best collegiate football player in the country. It’s just a fun exercise to see who ended up beating out some future NFL superstars for college football’s most prestigious award.

Here’s a countdown of some of the Heisman races that voters might wish they could do over, given the benefit of years of hindsight.

Think I missed one or take exception with one of these? Let me know in the comments.

10. 1964 – John Huarte over Jerry Rhome and Dick Butkus

In 1964, Notre Dame’s John Huarte won the Heisman over Tulsa’s Jerry Rhome by a slim margin (216 votes to 186), despite throwing for more than 800 fewer yards, throwing half as many touchdowns, and throwing almost three times as many interceptions in 121 fewer attempts.

Of course, a two-way star from Illinois named Dick Butkus was in the running as well, but he finished a distant third (77 votes). Almost unbelievably, Butkus played center and linebacker for the Illini, and he excelled at both.

Images: Huarte: AP Photo via espn.com, Rhome: Tulsa Sports Information via espn.com, Butkus: fightingillini.com

Huarte was certainly good, and Rhome’s numbers were somewhat inflated by the style of offense Tulsa ran, but it’s still tough to imagine voters not wanting to reassign their votes on this one.

Huarte and Rhome had somewhat insignificant NFL careers, with their 1964 college seasons being their most impressive moments as players.

Butkus, as we know, went on to a Hall of Fame NFL career for the Chicago Bears and has an annual award named after him for the most outstanding linebacker in high school, college, and professional football. Not too shabby for the third-place finisher in the 1964 Heisman race.

Even with the benefit of hindsight, I can’t fault the voters too much, for it could be argued that Rhome was merely a product of the pass-happy Tulsa system and Butkus, an offensive lineman and defensive player, didn’t have the stats to support his candidacy.

9. 2000 – Chris Weinke over Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson

To be sure, Florida State’s Chris Weinke had a fantastic college career, one that started late due to Weinke’s minor league baseball career.

At age 25, Weinke enrolled at Florida State, and in 2000, as a senior, Weinke delivered to the tune of 4,167 passing yards and 33 touchdowns and won the Heisman.

In West Lafayette, Indiana, another quarterback was throwing the ball all over the yard in the Big Ten.

Drew Brees threw for 3,393 yards and 24 touchdowns, capping off a collegiate career that saw him set Big Ten records for passing yards, touchdowns, completions and attempts. Brees also led the Boilermakers to their first Rose Bowl in 33 years (they lost to Washington). Brees finished third in the Heisman voting (Oklahoma’s Josh Heupel was second).

In Texas, TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson had his second consecutive NCAA-leading rushing season, piling up 2,158 yards and 22 touchdowns. At the time, Tomlinson ranked sixth in NCAA history with 5,263 rushing yards. The future Chargers star was fourth in the vote for the Heisman.

Weinke surely deserved the Heisman trophy due to his gaudy stats and the Seminoles’ dominance, but it’s hard to look back and see the seasons that Brees and Tomlinson had and not think that they should have had a legitimate gripe about their places (Heupel over both of them?).

It wasn’t like either of them came out of nowhere with one great season and then went to NFL stardom; these were players who clearly had immense talent and were going to succeed in the pros.

I’d say things worked out pretty well, though. Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, set the NFL record for completion percentage and passing yards last year, has an enormous contract and a Super Bowl ring.

Tomlinson is a former NFL MVP, made boatloads of money in his playing career, and holds the NFL single-season record for touchdowns.

8. 2003 – Jason White over Larry Fitzgerald and Eli Manning

Oklahoma’s Jason White threw for 3,846 yards and 40 touchdowns (versus only 10 interceptions) in 2003, which is pretty miraculous for someone coming off consecutive seasons ended by ACL tears (one in each knee).

The Heisman race was close that year, with Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (92 receptions, 1,672 yards, 22 touchdowns) coming in second and Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning (3,600 yards, 29 touchdowns, 10 interceptions) third.

White never played in an NFL game, however. He went undrafted the following year, and though he eventually signed with the Tennessee Titans in 2005, retired from football altogether soon thereafter.

Fitzgerald went on to star for the Arizona Cardinals as one of the most prominent receivers in the NFL. (Now if only Arizona could get him a reliable quarterback to allow him to continue his Hall of Fame career.) I thought then and I think now that Fitzgerald was the best player in college football that year.

Eli Manning, meanwhile, had a much publicized entry to the NFL, as he refused to sign with the San Diego Chargers, the team who held the first pick in the draft. The Chargers eventually traded the pick to the New York Giants, who drafted Manning. Since then, Eli has become one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL and has led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins.

7. 1994 – Rashaan Salaam over Ki-Jana Carter, Steve McNair and Kerry Collins

Colorado had an incredible season in 1994: a Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame, a #3 ranking to finish the year, the “Miracle at Michigan,” Kordell Stewart’s play, and Rashaan Salaam’s Heisman-winning season.

Salaam ran an incredible 298 times in 12 games, piling up 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns. The yardage and touchdown totals were more than he was able to muster in his entire NFL career. He won the Heisman going away, despite some performances that were just as – if not more – impressive.

Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter (198 carries, 1,539 yards, 23 touchdowns) finished second in the voting, barely garnering half the voter points that Salaam did. Unlike some of the previous runners-up I’ve listed, Carter didn’t go on to have a spectacular career. After being chosen with the top over pick, he tore his ACL in his very first preseason game for the Cincinnati Bengals, and his potential was never realized.

The argument then (and now) for Carter is that he played for Penn State, which had a (slightly) more balanced offense, which meant fewer carries for Carter than Salaam. The Big Ten was also notorious for stiff defense at the time, and Carter managed to rack up a 7.8 yards per carry average, almost a full yard better than Salaam.

Third place in the voting belonged to Alcorn State’s Steve “Air” McNair. It was nearly unheard of for a Division 1-AA player to be included on the Heisman ballot, but McNair’s exploits were such that he was invited to the party anyway. McNair threw for 4,863 yards and 44 touchdowns that year, numbers that were gaudy by the era’s standards.

Since we know how McNair’s NFL career turned out (31,304 passing yards, 174 touchdowns, an NFL MVP, 3 Pro Bowls), it’s easy to say that, despite his stats coming in Division 1-AA, he was a good enough player to win the Heisman.

Collins was Carter’s teammate at Penn State, and he led the Nittany Lions to an undefeated season while passing for 2,679 yards and 24 touchdowns. These days, it seems like the best quarterbacks on the best teams in the country have a huge advantage in the Heisman race, but Collins was left in a distant fourth place in 1994.

He went on to throw for almost 41,000 yards and 206 touchdowns in a 16-year NFL career, making two Pro Bowls in the process.

6. 2004 – Matt Leinart over Adrian Peterson

USC’s Matt Leinart had one of the best college careers anyone has ever had: 37-2 record as a starter, a national championship (two if you go by the AP rankings), a Heisman Trophy, two first-team All-American awards, and his #11 jersey retired by the school.

As a junior, Leinart threw for 3,322 yards, 33 touchdowns, and only 6 interceptions. USC won the national championship that year and Leinart was projected as being a high NFL draft pick, possibly number one overall.

Instead, he returned to school, had another stellar season, and was a Heisman finalist again (teammate Reggie Bush would win, only to have his award stripped due to an NCAA rules violation in 2010).

Leinart was drafted 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2006 NFL draft. He has languished in backup duty for his 6 years in the league, currently sitting behind Carson Palmer for the Oakland Raiders.

Image Credits: sportsthenandnow.com

Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson was just a freshman in 2004, but he had arguably the best season any freshman running back has ever had. He set freshman records for rushing yards (1,925), carries (339), and 100-yard games in a season (11). His runner-up finish in the Heisman voting was the highest ever for a freshman.

Peterson’s Sooners would lose to Leinart’s Trojans in the BCS national championship game, 55-19.

Peterson would prove to be the better pro, though. As a Minnesota Viking, Peterson is considered one of the best running backs in the NFL. He earned a $96 million contract in 2011, and he has amassed almost 8,000 yards and 71 touchdowns in his young NFL career.

It would have been tough to vote against Leinart in 2004, but I remember watching Peterson and being floored by him. Leinart was more a product of an incredible system and incredible teammates, whereas Peterson was a true once-in-a-decade talent at running back.

*****

Now it’s time for the five biggest with-hindsight Heisman snubs in college football history. Continue reading to learn about:

  • The two-time Heisman winner who only should have won one.
  • The one-time Heisman winner who clearly should have won two.
  • The defensive stalwart who never should have beaten out one of the greatest QBs in football history.

And more!

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About Keith Mullett

Keith is an Ohio-based sports and pop culture junkie who began writing for MSF in June 2011. His ramblings about sports, music, movies and books can be further enjoyed by following him on Twitter @keithmullett.

In addition to his work for MSF, Keith operates a blog called Commercial Grade, in which he critiques television commercials from the perspective of the average viewer.

Comments

  1. Completely agree on Leinart/Peterson and Toretta/Faulk. Personally, I would include Eddie George over Tommie Frazier in 1995 somewhere on this list. And I think you’re selling Josh Heupel a little short in 2000 (comparable numbers to Brees and led the Sooners to a national championship after they’d had just one winning season in the previous six years.)

    • Carl Stilson says:

      The most obvious of bad Heisman voting was in 1956, when Jim Brown of Syracuse was clearly the BEST football player, and deserved the trophy, but the RACIST voters gave Paul Hornung the award. Dick Shaap was voting for the first time, and never participated again for that snub ….. By the way, Jim Brown was 5th in the voting ……
      I am white, 64 and well to do ………

      • Well, La-Dee-Frickin’-Da, Carl. You may be correct, but your uppitiness doesnt give your argument any more weight

        • Sorry Val, but your reply is the one that looks uppity. Unfortunately, too many people play the, ‘race card’ nowadays, and Carl was simply pointing out that he was NOT doing that.

    • Eddie George/Tommie Frazier could have went either way in my mind… Wouldn’t say that was a snub.. Couldn’t go wrong with either for both were dominant college players that year.. I guess since Nebraska won the Nat’l Championship you can have some arguement for Frazier, but the voting was done before that happened.. George deserved it…

  2. snapper morgan says:

    You forgot about the 1956 trophy Paul Hornung Notre Dame over Johnny Majors Tennessee, Hornung won the Heisman Trophy in 1956 as the year’s outstanding College football player in the United States and is the only player from a losing team (his University of Notre Dame team finished 2-8 that year) ever to win the trophy.

  3. Thomas Ray says:

    I think you missed the 1979 Heisman Trophy when Charles White won over Billy Sims. In my opinion, Sims deserved a second trophy and had more rushing yards than Charles White. Sims faced better competition in the Big 8. Billy is another that should have won twice, and he hasn’t embarrassed himself after football. Too bad his career with the Lions ended with a knee injury.

  4. Winning the heisman has nothing to do with the NFL. It is for the best COLLEGE player. Yes, the best COLLEGE player, nothing to do with the NFL.

    • Jeff Brown says:

      Thank you. No one ever realizes that. And yes, there are snubs and bad calls, but in the end, it’s not a future prediction mechanism.

    • Andy McIntosh says:

      Thank you. The whole time I was reading this I wondered what does their later experience in the NFL, good or bad, have to with winning a college award.

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  5. bendaredundat says:

    I think 1997 could have been the one year it should have been given to all 3 players and O>J> certainly deserved the 1967 trophy.

    • Charles Woodson deserved the trophy…Best Player on the Best Team…Go Blue!!!

      • RBS: You may be correct. It was a tough call, but Charles Woodson was and still is a terrific football player and a pretty good example of how to play the game.

        • Charles Woodson could not compare with Peyton Manning then or now; Manning not only plays the game, he directs the game, and inspires the rest of the team — always has, always will. 1997 was a game the media decided to play, and it was pathetic. Manning deserved the Heisman.

          • i call BS. woodson not only dominated the game, he took half the field away from opposing teams,

          • Football Fanataic says:

            Woodson was the best player on the team that won the national championship. His punt return TD is what they needed to win that game. Woodson hands down! He also represented in the bowl game with a pick in the end zone. No Woodson, no Nat’l championship for Michigan that year!

      • Payton could only play offense…Woodson played offense, defense, and special teams…anyone who cant see that he was the best all around college player that year is blineded by pure ignorance.

      • ill brb i gotta finish laughing at you ppl that said Woodson deserved it. brb

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  6. You left out Rocket Ismail, Tommie Frazier and Vince Young. As the speaker was announcing the winner of the 1990 Heisman, Ismail literally stood up out of his seat, only to hear them announce “Ty Detmer.” He couldn’t believe it, either.

  7. You missed the Darren McFadden Tim Tebow. Tim should have never won the Heisman that year. Run DMC was by far the best college player.

  8. He already clarified that point..

  9. You missed OJ over Leroy Keys. Keys did far more as a player than did OJ. It was that year I realized the Heisman selection process was a joke.

  10. And, had my beloved Philadelphia Eagles lost the last game of the season, we would have had first pick, first round AND selected OJ….

  11. Seriously, Tommy Frazier should have a Heisman.

  12. Totally agree with you on that one Thomas. Billy Sims was almost unstoppable that year. When they gave the trophy to CW I then new it was not about the player but about the backroom deals made between the some of the voters.

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  13. Richard Dotson says:

    Troy Davis from Iowa State. He rushed for over 2000 yards in back to back seasons, and did not even come close to winning his award. I believe he is only one of two backs to break to 2000 yard mark in a season and not win the Heisman, but he is the only back to have more than 2000 yards rushing in consecutive seasons and not win it at least once.

  14. Forget Run DMC. Tim Tebow should have won it twice. The year after he won the Heisman, he had an even better year throwing for 32 TD’s and only 6 int’s, was 2nd in passing efficiency and rushing for almost 900 yds against SEC defences. The other 2 were playing in the defenceless Big 12 where the top teams beat the lower teams 84-51.

  15. You forgot about Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers over Oklahoma’s Greg Pruitt, Nebraska’s Rich Glover and #7 — George Amundson. Iowa State’s Amundson was 7th in the Heisman voting, but was the Big 8’s MVP even though the top 3 finishers in the Heisman were all from the Big 8. Incidentally, Rodgers is the only Heisman winner to have a felony on his record before he received the award.

    • Just-a-thought says:

      Rodgers was the most exciting college football player during his 3 years on the field for Nebraska. If you want to factor in character issues, you’re going to have to eliminate many past and future Heisman candidates and winners.

      And (as a long-time Nebraska fan) I certainly would not have traded Tommie Frazier for Eddie George, in spite of Heisman voting.

  16. michael gorlinsky says:

    Michael Vick as a feshman was the best player in college hands down. Ron Dayne got the award based on his career not that season.

  17. Middle Age Rage says:

    the 1997 Heisman race was solely between Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning, and yes, the chatter was dominated by the “defensive vs offensive player” debate. What is often lost in that argument is Woodson was a threat at any point in the game, from any part of the field. Not only was he the most dominant cornerback of his era, the Wolverines also employed him as a kick returner and, at crucial times, a wide receiver. He excelled at all three in all of the big games, leading the Wolverines to a co-National Championship (a last-second wave of sentimentality for the retiring Tom Osborne from his fellow coaches gave Nebraska the UPI side, but that’s another story). Peyton’s stats and overall dominance from the Vols’ QB position certainly earned him a spot alongside Woodson as a finalist, but the uniqueness of Woodson’s accomplishments ultimately gave him the edge. So Keith….if you’re going to argue FOR Dick Butkus as a dominant two-way player, how can you argue AGAINST Woodson?

  18. Absolutely not, when you consider what the Heisman is about. Besides his talent, there has never been a better leader in college football than Tim Tebow. GO GATORS!!!

  19. Charles Woodson WAS the best player in 1997. He played defense, offense, and punt returns. The trophy is for the BEST player, not just offensive player.

  20. George Rogers had a great year with 1,781 yards and his Gamecock team went 8-3 but the runner ups were Hugh Green and Herschel Walker. Hugh Green should have won the Heisman considering he did wonthe Lombardi Award, Sporting News Player of the Year, UPI Player of the Year and eventually was ESPN’s Top 25 Players In College Football History list, Sports Illustrated’s College Football All-Century team in 1999.

    • Hugh Green was 14th on that list. Herschel was THIRD. Herschel also made the All-Century team. Again, Herschel had as good a year as either of the two, but a FAR greater impact on his team and their success. Hugh Green? Seriously?

  21. No, that was Charles Woodson’s Heisman and rightfully so. Moss auto lost points for being a WR and playing at Marshall. Manning had an excellent year but his team lost a game. Woodson not only was the best player on the best team in the country but had several “Heisman moments” like the punt return against Ohio State or the interception against Michigan State that (like it or not) counted a lot. Woodson’s a future hall of famer in his own right so I don’t think the award went to the wrong guy.

  22. Desmond Howard over Steve Emtman was a tragedy. The Heisman failed to award a player who dominated two or three blockers on every play, and led one of the most dominating defenses in college football history. Instead, a good receiver (probably not even the best in the country that season) gets the nod because he had a great game against Notre Dame. Until, the Heisman goes to a strictly defensive player, I will consider it just another award. I dislike Notre Dame with a passion, but their middle linebacker should be the frontrunner this season, as the rest of the candidates are not that dominating.

  23. brock forcey

  24. Eric Crouch over Joey Harrington is an argument. Oregon finished 2nd (although they got lucky to play an overrated and hot Colorado team), a finish not even possible without Joey. Crouch was spectacular, dont get me wrong. And Fyi, a players heisman consideration have nothing to do with the NFL career they go on to have. And way to much of emphasis on stats here. Much more to a Heisman winner than stats and a productive NFL career. For example, Steve McNair! A division 1-AA player? You must be kidding

  25. Charles Woodson so rightfully deserved his, but I agree that Weinke was undeserving. I cant support the 40 year old quarterback. It’s just an unfair advantage, especially mentally, and as a quarterback to come back at that age and play against kids 5-10 years younger.

  26. broke all of barry sanders reacords, brock forcey.

  27. Joe Hoffman says:

    Vince Young should have won it over Bush. The ESPN hype machine won it for Bush but Vince proved on the field who the best player was.

  28. What about Vince Young?
    He Dominated USC in the championship game but did not get the Heisman because the vote occurred prior to the championship game.

  29. You sir are an idiot. Please go take a nap on the freeway. kk, thx.

  30. do you read this had nothing to do with what they did in the NFL and its not even about the NFL that was just to have a look at what each star has done since the heisman year… what its getting down to is some of the players who had won clearly didnt wasnt the better player at the time they won the Heisman..

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  31. mike england says:

    What about Andre Ware winning over Anthony Thompson?

    • I 2nd that motion. Anthony Thompson was unfortunate that he played on a losing Indiana University football team that year (5-6). Finished his college career as the NCAA’s all-time touchdown leader, won the Walter Camp award, won the Big Ten MVP award twice, and was a two-time first team All American.

  32. Frank Rizzo says:

    I wish peoplewould get off Peyton Manning’s jock! Yes, he is an excellent player, and one of the greatest of all time statistically, on the PROFESIONAL level. But in actuality, he doesn’t do anything ‘outstanding’. And the Heisman is reserved for the ‘most outstanding’ player. Woodson made plays, on defense AND offense AND special teams, proving to be an ALL AROUND FOOTBALL PLAYER. Not just excelling at his position, but whatever position he was installed at. Similar to another Michigan Heisman winner,DesmondHoward, who made his name as a returner more than a wide receiver. Peyton put up AVERAGE numdbers, and at QB, its easy to garner attention. But as a player, Woodson made plays all over the field that stood out throughout the entire season, as well as leading his team to a Rose Bowl and a share of a National Championship. Qutstanding enough haters? Yes, I am from Michigan, but even more, I am a true fan of sport, and I think the heisman should be given to the best all around ‘player’, regardless of position, and based on on’field performance. That being said, I hope Manti Teo of Notre Dame gets it this year! Yes I said Notre Dame!

  33. how about the 1963 vote that put Roger Staubach ahead of Billy Lothridge, Lothridge was the QB, punter, kicked off,kicked fg, ep, ran he did everything but put down the lime before the game and would have done that if Bobby Dodd had asked him to, not one was more important to his team that year.

  34. Both Bo and Hershel should have on it twice.

  35. won

  36. Kieth Byers over Doug Flutie. Musburger won the Heisman for Flutie on one play.

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  37. The Heisman Trophy is a *college* award. Why are you (Keith Mullett) mentioning NFL production so often?

  38. Has there ever been a more exciting player than THE ROCKET. He did it playing against the best defenses week in week out in 1990… not Hawaii and UTEP

  39. Baloney Detmer earned it with 70 NCAA records and 15k yards passing.
    His win over number one Miamai didn’t hurt either.

    Mike Rozier over Steve Young was perhaps the worst of all.

  40. Detmer threw 28 ints that year and was destroyed by unranked Texas AM in the Holiday Bowl 65-14. He was so overated . Now Steve Young is a different story

  41. Doug Flutie over Keith Byars was a travesty!

  42. I agree with the fact that Woodson deserved the Heisman that year, but for you to say that the Nebraska Cornhuskers didn’t deserve the national title that year is plain biased ignorance on your part. Nebraska wanted to play Michigan that year early in the season and Michigan declined the opportunity. Nebraska outscored its opponents by 30.7 points per game while Michigan outscored its opponents by 17 points per game. If you want to say that only because level of competition then Nebraska outscored its opponents with winning records by 23.6. Michigan outscored its opponents with winning records by 10.8 points. Michigan’s opponents, five Big Ten teams and Notre Dame, went 0-6 in the bowls.
    Nebraska’s opponents went 2-2 in the bowls. Washington and Kansas State won; Missouri and Texas A&M lost. Not to mention Nebraska went on to dominate a Peyton Manning led Tennessee team by 25 where as Michigan could only beat a Ryan Leaf led Washington State team by 5 points in their bowl game. So your back handed comment towards one of the greatest coaches of all time is just ignorance at its finest.

    • First of all Woodson winning the award was the right choice by far. Manning won the games he was SUPPOSED to win being the SEC wasn’t as dominant back then and the big ten was the toughest conference by far. As for nebraska………..people who think they desered to be co-champs are smoking something, their defense got beat up and plowed in most of their games. Also they had a cream-puff schedule so it would be hard to say that they were a great team that year due to the lack of talented opposition. Had michigan and nebraks played a “NC game” that year had the BCS started michigan would’ve blew nebraska out i would’ve given a predicted score of 42-14 michigan definitely’their defense was just THAT great and Chuck would’ve had at least 2 picks maybe even 3. Nebraska got the tie because and ONLY because Tom Osbourne retired.

  43. Soonerbeach says:

    Being an OU fan I think Jason White should not have one the trophy the year he did. Thought Fitzgerald was the man that year. BUT, Josh Heuple should have won the year Weinke won it, not Drew Brees or Tomlinson. If the voting took place as it should, after ALL games are played, I beilieve these scenarios would have played out. The biggest issue I have with the Heisman is that it is awarded before ALL games are played.

  44. While I like Mark Ingram and respect what he did for Alabama, do not tell me that Ndaumokong Suh in 2009 wasn’t the best player that year. His Big XII championship game alone was the single greatest preformance I have ever seen by a defensive player, let alone a D-Lineman!!! Congrats to Mr. Ingram, but IMO, Suh was more deserving…

  45. I agree witht he voters on this one. Woodson was the best college player of that year. It was close and came down to the wire in my opinion, but the man was the greatest single contributor to his team’s national championship, played O, D, & special teams and played each position incredibly. For generations, DBs who return kicks/punts and play WR will always be compared to Woodson. What Manning did was exceptional, especially in his pro career, but not only was he not the best player THAT year, he might not even be the best QB in his family. Time will tell.

  46. well said

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  47. How can you talk about 1964 and not mention Joe Namath! He led Alabama to a national championship and was considered the best QB in the country by many folks but he didn’t even make the top 10 in votes!! Huarte and Namath were BOTH drafted by the New York Jets. We all know about Namath, go and google Huarte!

  48. I give the author props for leaving the 1990 Heisman off the list. It was not a snub.

    Ismail’s numbers were mediocre in 1990. He had a combined 1,236 yards and 5 touchdowns rushing and receiving. Can you imagine a running back winning the Heisman with those totals? As far as return yardage goes, Ismail had 487 yards combined on kickoff and punt returns, that was down from 615 yards in 1989.

    Meanwhile, Detmer beat Miami when they were ranked #1. His 406 passing yards were the second most ever against a Miami defense (only 1984 Heisman Trophy Winner Doug Flutie had more). Detmer finished the year with an NCAA record 5,188 yards passing, breaking the mark of 4,689 set by Heisman Winner Andre Ware one year before. Detmer also had 41 touchdown passes in 1990. He was second in the nation in pass efficiency.

    Detmer was the top vote getter in all six Heisman voting regions. Less than half of all Heisman winners the last 40 years can say that. Ismail wasn’t even 2nd in all six regions. In fact, in Ismail’s “home” region the Mid-west, Ismail was 3rd. The voters knew what they were doing. There was clearly only one player who really deserved the Heisman in 1990, and that was Ty Detmer.

  49. Completely agree, Ron.

    How can you snub someone for what they haven’t done? If NFL production matters so much about getting the vote right, then the award should be given out 5 years after the fact. So this year we are looking at players who played in 2007, and combine what they did that year with their NFL careers to this point.

    • That is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.
      Simple but very precise info… Thanks for sharing this
      one. A must read post!

  50. steeve sallee says:

    thanfor you comments about Drew Brees but another Purdue QB was robbed–Bob Griese should have won over Steve Spurrier with not questions, also I think LeRoy Keyes should have won over OJ because he played great defense also

  51. Scott Kwarciany says:

    I agree 100% Charles woodson was the most dominant player in all of college football in 1997. His ability as a college player is only backed up by his winning defensive player of the year in the NFL. He is 1 of the only players in football history to win the triple crown: national championship, heisman trophy and super bowl.

    • Triple Crown? Only ONE of those awards is PLAYER-based, the other 2 are TEAM accomplishments! Maybe Super Bowl MVP and NFL Player of the Year and Heisman, THAT would be a Triple Crown!

    • Michigan had to share the national championship that year with Nebraska. I wished they would have played each other for the title. Michigan had the best pass defense that year, but Nebraska would have just rushed the ball, probably for well over 300 yards and would have destroyed the Wolverines. Woodson would have had this for a stat line: 0 int; 0 passes broken up; and a few tackles.

  52. How did we leave out Eric Crouch over Ken Dorsey? Or Crouch over ANYBODY in 2001?

  53. Eric D Peselow says:

    I guess

    I guess you don’t go back before 1964 but Paul Hornung over Jim Brown in 1956 was egregious

  54. David Siddle says:

    In 1966, Steve Spurrier won the Heisman over the likes of Bob Griese and Floyd Little, who, I believe, broke the rushing records of Jim Brown and Ernie Davis at Syracuse. Trophy should have gone to Little.

    • Heisman Voting 1966

      1 Steve Spurrier Florida SR QB 1679 179 Cmp, 291 Att, 2012 Yds, 16 TD, 8 Int
      2 Bob Griese Purdue SR QB 816 130 Cmp, 215 Att, 1749 Yds, 12 TD, 11 Int
      5 Floyd Little Syracuse SR RB 296 162 Att, 811 Yds, 5.0 Avg

      I knew Spurrier won in a landslide vote, and I think they got it right. Not sure what records you’re referring to. Little became the career leader at Syracuse, but 1966 wasn’t even his best college season. He rushed for 1065 in 1965.

  55. jim harrington says:

    How is it even possible that you left out the one time “runner up” Heisman candidate, Anthony Davis of USC. You want to talk about a tremendous football player that got screwed over, it’s him. Oh by the way, why don’t you check with Notre Dame on what they think about him.

  56. YOU ARE SO DAMN RIGHT!!!!!

  57. If Tony Dorsett gets your “after-the-fact Heisman vote” in 1975 wouldn’t he join O.J. (in your opinion) as another two-time winner since he (Dorsett) actually did win it in 1976…unless you’re also saying Tony didn’t deserve the trophy in 1976 (although, that didn’t make your list)

  58. Biggest snub? Tim Brown in 1987 winning it over a much more deserving Don McPherson from Syracuse.. He led the Orange to the an undefeated season passing and running the ball all over the field.. Tim Brown played for Notre Dame and that’s why he won

  59. Chip Green says:

    Well Charles Woodson was the proper choice in 1997 since the award is for the best college player in the country not who goes on to a better NFL career. Woodson had one of the greatest defensive seasons in memory in 97 and did pretty well on offense too.

  60. If they were smart enough to hold the vote until after the bowl games, no one would have voted Reggie Bush over Vince Young. Not even Reggie Bush’s mother in her brand new house would have not voted for Vince!

    • Chris Tindall says:

      Vince young didn’t do half of what Reggie bush did that year. He won one game. Plus if carrol would have played Bush like he had all year Texas would lose. Go back and look at the second half Bush barely touched the ball. Plus a house doesn’t make you play better. He earned it on the field.

      • Smartest_Person_Here says:

        He won one game? In game 2 of that year, Vince went into Ohio Stadium and defeated A.J Hawk and the Buckeyes there on a saturnday night. He won one game? Trailing by 21 points 1n the 2nd half, Vince rallied a comeback to defeat Oklahoma St. He won one game? Vince racked up 70 points that year in the Big 12 Championship Game. Then he topped the year off by rallying a comeback drive to defeat what espn declared was, “the greatest college football team.”

  61. I know you’re focusing on NFL exploits, but I say Danny Wuerfful getting the hardware over Tommie Frazier ranks among the greatest Heisman misappropriations.

    • Frazier’s NFL career sucked too!

    • Tommie Frazier was in the NFL when Danny Wuerfful won the Heisman. To refresh you memory, Wuerfful’s stats during his Heisman year were:

      207/360 57.5% 3625 yards 39TD /13INT 170.6 rating

      He was the best player on the best team in 1996. He was also a 4 time SEC champion, so it was as much a nod to his career as it was acknowledging an incredible season. Remember, the Gators were rewriting SEC record books at the time, and Danny was the trigger man.

  62. That is the one that I was going to say. What’s really bad is that the Irish were 2-8 that year and Hornung was their QB (he was moved to RB by the Packers). Interestingly, Jim Brown wasn’t second, either. Johnny Majors of the University of Tennessee, a single-wing tailback was. He later stated that the voting amounted to a robbery, but that it was Brown who was robbed. This had to be a combination of pro-Notre Dame bias and racism. Horning was a solid player but never in the Jim Brown category, as Brown invented that category. Majors went on to coach Tony Dorsett at Pitt so he figured into one of the feature stories as well.

  63. Archie Griffin shoudl have won none. in 1974 if voted would have happened 1 week later as it does now Anthony Davis of USC would have won for sure.

  64. What about how Drew Bledsoe was robbed by Geno Torretta. The only reason Geno won was because he was on a stacked team from Miami. They would have won the national Championship with a high school QB.

  65. I agree with your #1 – Gary Beban. But I seem to remember another running back that should be mentioned (if my memeory serves me). I was a 9 year old whose dad took him to the UCLA – Syracuse game in the Coliseum. A fullback named Larry Csonka ran all over the Bruins; I seem to remember a long run down the sideline. Gary Beban sucked! There is no other way to put it; he was non-existent. I followed Csonk’s career in Miami; in fact, I was still a Dolphins fan when the Cardinals came to Phoenix (where I was a season ticket holder in the beginning). I can’t complain about your selection of OJ. I want to go to USC because of what he started at Tailback U. The other thing I remember about the UCLA-Syracuse game – my dad went the wrong direction after the game. We needed to go East or South and he went West or North. We only had one freeway in Phoenix at the time!

  66. greg allen says:

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,First of all, the Heisman is a college award and players professional performances have nothing to do with it. Second, there is suppossed to be a factor in the selection concerning character, sportsmanship and ability to be a good team player.
    As you ‘dinged’ Archie Griffin, I’ll use him as an example as I attended OSU with him. Maybe his 75 numbers were not the best, but he was a great example of a humble student athlete who achieved not with great size or talent but through hard work and being the ultimate team player! He was THE role model for the university, a great human being and a pretty good ball player.
    I would much rather my child have Griffin as a role model (Assistant Athletic Director, now President of the Alumni Association– and still the positive role model for the university!) than your choice, who is locked in jail and who probably killed a few people. See my point!

  67. You drank the ESPN Kool-Aid if you think that Woodson’s impact on Michigan in 1997 surpassed Mannings on UT. Remember than ESPN constantly sold the idea that Manning only returned for his senior year to win the Heisman denied his father (see above), and wanted a dramatic Heisman race. Remember how they “suddenly” discovered how the Heisman had never gone to a primarily-defensive player since the beginning of the “two-platoon” era 35 years earlier? Certainly you have to give credit for Woodson for being clutch. Most of his relatively-small offensive production and his most dramatic special teams plays occurred in front of national TV cameras in an era when there were still only a few such games a week. Also, this was when ABC/ESPN’s primary college football content was Big Ten/Pac-10, not SEC.

    Don’t get me wrong, Woodson is an historically-great player, and will belong in both the college and pro football halls of fame when his time comes, as will Manning. There is much less injustice here than in the Paul Horning over Jim Brown and Johnny Majors in 1956 vote, which was totally unconscionable.

    • Manning was a choke artist in college who couldn’t beat Florida in four tries. Chuck showed up in the big games where Manning couldn’t win when it mattered most. National Champs 97′ (way to get destroyed in your bowl game too, causing the split national title)

  68. No…
    That was Detmer’s Sr. year when he finished 3rd.
    Get your story straight.
    In the A&M Holiday Bowl he suffered 2 seperated shoulders.
    His Jr year he beat #1 Miami which finished #2 that year.

    Geeze, come prepared or step off.

  69. No way that Woodson meant more to his Michigan team than Peyton Manning did to Tennessee. Not that Woodson wasn’t a great player, he was and is and should make both the college and pro halls of fame (as should Manning). But his candidacy was flogged by ESPN, who suddenly “discovered”, decades after the advent of two-platoon football, that since that time no primarily defensive player had won the award. Manning was the odds-on favorite, having foregone the draft to play another year in college, and ESPN needed a dramatic Heisman race, and back then the Big Ten, not the SEC, provided the bulk of the high-profile college football programming on ABC/ESPN. Woodson was also clutch, looking great in his relatively few offensive plays on national TV, which wasn’t nearly as commonplace in the college game then as it has become since. He was also a great special teamer. But Peyton Manning was, well, Peyton Manning.

    At least Woodson was and is so great that

  70. Charles Woodson winning was the proper choice. Manning had an outstanding pro career but the vote is not for what you do in the pros(if it were, alot of heisman winners would not get the award). Also, Moss had to play on a substandard team due to his off the field problems. I believe that if you want to be taken seriously for the Heisman, you need to play at a top school against top players (why if I were voting, I would never vote for McNair). Woodson was the top defensive player that year, playing as the top all around player on a national championship team, not to mention he played offense and special teams that year at a high level. His final game against Ohio State was AWESOME.

  71. i’m preety sure if you read all of his comment you would have noticed the part where he said ” I knwo YOU’RE focusing on NFL exploits, BUT….” He wasnt talking about NFL careers..He said Tommie frazier should have gotten the heisman trophy…

  72. In 1995 Eddie George led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a respectable 10-2 record en route to winning the Heisman, but OSU lost in the Florida Citrus Bowl to TN and sophomore vote recipient Peyton Manning, while Heisman runner up and college football Phenom Tommie Frazier and the Nebraska Cornhuskers put a clinic on the 3rd place finisher Danny Wuerffel and the Florida Gators. George, a future NFL Hall of Famer, got the nod over Frazier because OSU would have been lost without him while Nebraska had proved the previous year that it could still win without Frazier. But Frazier was the better “college” player and should have gotten the trophy in his senior campaign.

  73. This should have been titled “Ten Heisman Votes Where More Than One Guy Had an Outstanding Season” or more possibly “Ten Heisman Votes That Failed to Predict Future Success.” Either way, you need to rethink both your premise and (based on all the comments above) your list-making process.

  74. I don’t know what this cat is smoking but Charles Woodson is going to the hall of fame just like those 2 kats so its a wash , and yes he was the best player in college football at the time.

  75. Pruitt might be responsible for a rule change, but tear away jerseys were still being used in the early 80’s.

  76. Lorenzo White had better stats than Bo Jackson. They said Bo won because of what he did the previous year. Lorenzo was suppose to win the following year. Opps. He graduated.

  77. Ramageddon says:

    This whole article is bull….Since the writer is late 20’s he blast Archie but no Troy Smith (who they speculated would be a NFL failure as they handed him the trophy)? Anyway all these Winners are winners the award is not the who will have the best future in the NFL, It is about what player had the biggest part in their teams wins. This is one of the most ridiculous articles that I have ever read, “Oh they got the Heisman wrong cause the winner did not have a future in the NFL”. I’d say whoever hired you as a writer got it wrong at least one time.

  78. Norwood Robinson says:

    I absolutely, positively agree with your assesment of Gary Beban and O.J. Simpson; I was a high school senior in 1967 and also a running back of a city high championship team, Parker Colonels, and O.J. was a favorite player for me. and I also thought it a travesty he did not win the Heisman in 1967; but ‘politics’ being what it is, you can’t win them all!!!

  79. What about Gino Torretta beating Marshall Faulk and Garrison Hearst in ’92!!?? THAT was a shame….

  80. Vince young didn’t do half of what Reggie bush did that year. He won one game.

    What?????? I went to Oklahoma and had to give it up to Vince that year. He was one of the Single most dominant college players of all time his Junior year. He won many games. The Ohio State game in the last few seconds of the 4th quarter by throwing a touchdown.

  81. Another Walmart Wolverine. Hugh Michigan Fan? Where did you go to school? Pathetic, especially when you are ‘Ohio based.’

  82. Vince Young was the greatest college football player in 2005. He single handily won multiple games for Texas that year, including a come from behind victory vs OK State, Kansas, and of course USC. Leinart made Bush better, same can be said about Bush making his QB better. Texas’ national title would have never happened, had VY not been there. Check the tape…

    • I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. If you saw the post game, you heard Pete Carroll say he opted to go for it on 4th down because he knew if they gave the ball back to Young, Texas wins (which as we know, is exactly what happened).

  83. Peyton Manning may be the Prince of Entitlements in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean he was entitled to everything, every time. His slug of a college coach voted U-M #4 and deprived them of an unanimous national title because Princey Peyton didn’t get his way. He, his entitled brother, and their no-ring King of Entitlement daddy can take long walks.

  84. how about we have the army core of engineers carve out enough area in the gulf of mexico, just south of mississippi or alabama to relocate parts of ohio and pennsylvania, we will allow opennsytuky to succeed from the union, and create an enviroment in which a white man will never lose to a black, and we can get on with the busines of creating a more perfect union an stop transplanting civil war sentiment into every issue,

  85. jalabarJack Bartram says:

    As you say, there should be only one two time Heisman winner, but…

    Didn’t Tony Dorsett actually go on to win the award in ’76? So, had we gone by your rules and given a second to OJ, wouldn’t Dorsett’s award in ’76 have been his second as well, given as you state he should have won the award in ’75?

  86. Ron Dayne over Peter Warrick…even though Warrick was suspended 2 games, he was by far the best player overall.

  87. Earth to Tindale. Heisman voting is not based on what if’s. If you think Vince Young just had one game on an undefeted Texas team, you have drowned in the coastal sports writing bias.

  88. You look at Herschel Walker’s Freshman season (1980) and though certainly his numbers were just shy of George Rogers’, Herschel was clearly the better back and had a huge effect on a National Championship season. I thought when the writer was talking about the player who won one Heisman but should have won two he must have been talking about Walker. Too bad that old men like Lee Corso are such idiots that they won’t vote for ANY freshman. The candidate’s class makes no difference, it’s their performance and its impact on the their team.

  89. Steve Langdon says:

    Granted, Crouch should not have won but that makes up for the travisty that was Eddie George over Tommie Frazier. Tommy was the most dangerous football player on arguably the greatest college football team ever and finished second.

  90. Good thing the Heisman trophy doesn’t mean anything and carries no real weight.

  91. Dave Darby says:

    What does NFL career stats have to do with winning, (or not), the Heisman award?

  92. “Eli Manning, meanwhile, had a much publicized entry to the NFL, as he refused to sign with the San Diego Chargers, the team who held the first pick in the draft. The Chargers eventually traded the pick to the New York Giants, who drafted Manning.”

    This is factually incorrect. The Chargers actually drafted Manning and a trade was made after the Giants drafted Rivers. They wound up trading players, not draft picks. Even though Manning has won 2 Super Bowls (and 2 MVP awards, though I still think Justin Tuck should have had the first one), the Chargers got some good players out of the extra picks as well. Not Rivers’ fault Norv can’t coach or Drayton Florence decides to head butt some guy after stopping Brady on 3rd and long.

  93. Jheri Curl says:

    Tim Brown won it in 1987 with pedestrian stats and the best player and guy who should have won it with 1,613 Yds, 6.5 Avg and 18 TDs, Thurman Thomas was 7th. The guys who finished 2nd to 6th weren’t even in the same neighborhood as Thomas and neither was Brown, thanks to Notre Dame’s hype machine.

  94. wouldve played in the box. wouldve had 2 TD’s offensively. and 1 special teams

  95. Wanny's Gonads says:

    Hugh Green …. George Rodgers? Come on now…

  96. Must be a Patriot fan.

  97. My only question is — why did you stop at 10?

  98. George Rodgers over Herschel Walker… just because he was a freshman

  99. You can thank Lee Corso for Gino “winning” the Heisman. He hyped Torretta all season long because he played for Miami and Corso had played at Florida State.

  100. john putnam says:

    How about adding Mark Ingram over Colt Mccoy to the list.

  101. Griese, Mike Phipps, Leroy Keyes, and Drew Brees, all Purdue Greats, should have won a couple of Heismans……….Purdue didn’t have the publicity machines that the So Cal, Notre Dame and East Coast schools had. Spurrier still carries Griese’s award and some guy named Steve Owens from Oklahoma stole MIke Phipp’s trophy.

    • Captain Ron says:

      Mostly this is a list of college players who won the Heisman and didn’t have a great pro career. Certainly looking back with hindsight, they were better players. That doesn’t mean they were the best player in college that year. The biggest miss is Paul Horning over Jim Brown in 1956.

    • Still can’t believe that Steve Spurrier was winner over Bob Griese.

    • 2000 Cris Wienke robbed Heapul from OU. Heapul was the better player and whipped Winkie in the Championship game. Josh Heapul from OU 2000 winner.

  102. D.Simmons says:

    How about Darren Mcfadden getting snubbed 2 years in a row, just because his team wasnt great.

    • His team was pretty good not the best but they were top 15. He still got snubbed though. I’ll never forget when he single handily beat LSU throwing touchdowns in the wildcat. Running and catching touchdowns. Easily one of the great college football players. Oh I believe he was in the heisman voting all three years too.

  103. This is a really stupid article.. the Heisman Award is given to the best (very subjective) Collegiate Athlete each year and basically a beauty contest for those players and schools that have the most $$ on PR etc. Think Presidential election.

    What the various candidates did or should have done in an NFL Career has absolutely no bearing on who SHOULD have been given the award. It’s interesting that most Heisman winners never amount to anything in the NFL since it’s an entirely different thing.

  104. Frank, did you not read the portion of the article in BOLD PRINT? He said it was just a fun exercise.

  105. No. 4 is BS. Payton is great but he didnt even break 4,000 yards passing. Woodson tore shit up at Michigan and definitely deserved the trophy over Payton. Woodson still tears shit up as a Packer, he was Defensive MVP 2 years ago and still a great player. Now all he has to do is stay healthy.

    • I totally agree! Woodson was a good player on the offensive side too. Its supposed to be “THE BEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER” Anyone hear about Moss or Manning playing anything but offense? Playing both sides of the line made Woodson the BEST player that year!

  106. 1980 George Rogers over Hershall Walker what a joke
    1981 Marcus Allen over Hershell Waler closer but still wrong choice

  107. You missed Terry Barker from Oregon State and Cam Newton both of which should never have won the award….Terry becasue he wasn’t that great and Cam because he took money to play….ya right they never proved it…duh how did he pay for the car and the jewels oh that’s right his dad bought em for him ,,,duh

  108. You need to start a new award, The Best Pro Prospect. Of course they already have that, it’s called #1 draft choice. Heisman is for best college player that year. Keep it that way.

  109. Darrn McFadden should have won over Tim Tebow

  110. Troy Davis from Iowa State is the only player to go over 2000 yards and not win Heisman! He did it two years in a row!

    • BRADY KENNINGTON says:

      I CERTAINLY AGREE WITH ALL OF YOUR CHOICES. I HAVE LONG SAID ARCHIE GRIFFIN DID NOT DESERVE HIS SECOND. I LIVED IN MIAMI WHEN TERRETTA WON AND HE SHOULD NOT HAVE GOTTEN IT. JUST HAD A GREAT TEAM BEHIND HIM I THINK YOU PRETTY MUCH GOT IT RIGHT. JUST TOO MUCH POLITICS IN SPORTS. PAT SULLIVAN WAS MY OTHER ONE.

  111. Rgardless o his nFL career and even his intelligence..Vince Young got screwed out of the Heisman, his soph and jr years.

  112. Jim Brown is obviousl the biggest snub, another Syracuse guy, Don McPherson losing out to Tim Brown because Tim was a Notre Dame guy was a joke too, Don led SU to an undefeated season that year for a program that had been in the dumps for 15 years.

  113. Truth be Told says:

    Heisman = NOTHING to do with the BEST player. just a beauty contest for large TV markets and over-hyped teams. Most of these players are only recognized because of the team around them. Put them on an average team they would disappear. Look for players that their team couldn’t do without, even if they have a losing record, to find the BEST player.

  114. Very First Year 1935
    Bobby Wilson of SMU, played both ways on the National Champion team, had 3 times the stats of Berwanger, won the Greatest game of the Decade and Century over TCU.

    Sportswriter wouldn’t vote for any player west of the Mississippi River!

    It’s been a joke ever since.

    • I believe that the 1st year the vote truly was for the ‘Best Player East Of The Mississippi River’……otherwise, I agree with you

      • Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking a
        few minutes and actual effort to create a great article… but what can I say… I put things
        off a lot and never seem to get anything done.

  115. I think this is an absolute joke. You cannot base the Heisman on performances AFTER the award. It is a collegiate award not a prospect award.

  116. MeadvilleMike says:

    I think that Tommie Frazier not winning it the year Eddie George won it was a huge mistake? Frazier recently voted the best option QB in history and he had a huge year.

    • Oh yeah!!!! Tommmie Frazier was “THE MAN”…He was Vick before Vick….If his legs weren’t messed up he would’ve been a good pro.

    • Hello there! This post could not be written any better!
      Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate!
      He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him.
      Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  117. Bob Price says:

    I think you have a number of worthy examples (especially Peyton Manning who remained for his senior year at Tenn when he still would have been the first player taken in the draft), and I can think of others like Tim Brown who won because of their school’s reputation. However, like many here I disagree with your premise that NFL success indicates Heisman worthiness.

  118. Earl Campbell over Terry Miller (Oklahoma State) The voting was broken into regions at that time and the sportswriters, coaches, and other voters in the Southwest region voted for Miller overwhelmingly, but of course the dumb butt East coast and West coast media machines don’t actually see any of the players play games and don’t know who is really the best player when they vote.

  119. You left of the biggest one by FAR. Paul Horning who was on a 3-8 Notre Dame team versus Johnny Majors on a 10-1 SEC Champion Tn team. Biggest hose job EVER.

    Woodson and Michigan better be glad the BCS didn’t come out until the following year. The 1997 Nebraska team would have wiped the field with Woodson and Michigan that year

  120. hhow long are you people going to skate around the Paul horning /Jim Brown match up?????????????????????

  121. Stupid Duck. You’ll never be the best team in the country. Get over it.

  122. VictorsValiant2006 says:

    Very ignorant list. You dont pick the heisman based off of NFL performance. Now what would have been good be basing this off of a heisman winner being outperformed by a different finalist after the selection was made. EX: 2005 proved in the Rose Bowl that Vince Young clearly was the heisman over Reggie Bush. I’ve always wished they would wait till after bowl season to vote, because that’s always when you find out who your true heisman is. This season 2012 is a great example I have a feeling Monte’ Taio (spelling..) will not win the heisman, however they should wait and see because say he does not then he goes and stops Alabama’s running game that would men he got screwed and should have won the heisman

  123. Bruce Hines says:

    Eric Crouch was not good enough to win the Heisman – he wasn’t even the best QB in the nation that year. Rex Grossman’s numbers were amazing for a sophmore but at that time the old school voters wouldn’t vote for a underclassman. Worst year for Heisman by far.

  124. Eric Crouch may not have had the numbers or the receivers
    Grossman had,(underclassman or not) but Eric was the better athletic player

    • Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a
      totally different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

  125. Other defencive players should have won the award, Woodson was just talented enough to get some highlight reel touches on O. But he was the definition of a shut down defensive player and return artist as well. And for a better team than Tennessee. Just because everyone wanted to give Peyton the award in pre-season doesn’t mean he deserved it. Boo-boo kitty.

  126. Ummmmmm, was Penn St in the Big 10 in 1994 ???

  127. Maybe 1956, when Paul Hornung won it (of course, he was from Notre Dame). As a QB e barely completed 50% of his passes, had 3 passing TD’s & 13 int’s. Yes….3 & 13 ! He beat out some running back from Syracuse named Jim Brown, John Brodie (Stanford), and a couple of Oklahoma guys. Johnny Majors from Tennessee was 2nd. Three and thirteen ?!?!?!

  128. josefromvictorville says:

    Matt Leinartshould have won in 2003, 2004 AND 2005. Three time winner bitches!

  129. Not his sophomore year he didn’t, but yeah, Reggie Bush was just not as good as him any way you look at it his junior year.

  130. chicago mike says:

    yes, they beat Oregon’s butt in the Rose Bowl that year.

  131. Orlando Pace, among countless other linesmen was snubbed. That a lineman never won is the biggest joke. They should stop lying when they say it is for the best player and just say it is for the best offensive skill position player. It is a freaking joke.

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  132. Ndamukong suh losing to mark ingram… ingram was good but suh was clearly the best pler in the country.. troy smith over calvin johnson..carson palmer over larry johnson..ron dayne over peter warrick

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  133. I know that USC has more than its share of Heismans but Anthony Davis should have at least won one. They did not give it to Davis in 1973 because he was a junior and then in 1974 they gave it to Archie Griffin a junior. With what the author wrote about Griffin in 1975, maybe he should not have had any Heismans. Sorry, The Ohio State University!!

  134. I hope your opinions aren’t influenced by the pro careers that followed these collegiate careers. They can be two different games. Note Vince Young and Charley Ward.

  135. WRONG!! Michigan did not then, nor have they ever had a PR machine for the Heisman, or any other trophy. Well known fact.
    Yes Peyton is an amazing quarterback, but Charles was the best, he did it on BOTH sides of the ball, and their is that little thing called a National Championship!
    Heisman is NOT a prediction of your future pro career, but what you did in college!

  136. Seery Chamberlain says:

    I’ve got to go with Ed Marinaro. Yes he played for the Ivy League, not the Big 10, but if you look at the stats he amassed, you need to remember, his college career spanned three years, not four, as the Ivies did not play Freshmen back then. Additionally, he did it all in a nine game season, not ten like Tony Dorsett. A pretty amazing feat, all things considered.

  137. I personally will offer to break into Paul Hornung’s house to go steal back Jim Brown’s Heisman.

  138. Geno Torretta over Marshall Faulk. Torretta had numbers that were based on the UMiami machine of the day, and they weren’t even really gaudy. Faulk played for a mediocre college team that would have been nothing without him in the backfield and had one of the most amazing seasons ever for a running back.

  139. what about Mike Rozier over Steve Young in 83′?

  140. Scott Andrews says:

    This whole list is about who had the better pro career. You know that’s not what the Heisman is for right?

  141. Peyton Manning over Charles Woodson? You’re joking of course. Can you say ‘Never beat Florida?’

  142. Buckeye77 says:

    Archie Griffin was the best player in college football when he won in consecutive years. I don’t know how many of you remember seeing Archie in action in the mid 70’s. You could even make a case that he was the best player in 1973 as well. If Archie played all four quarters in the many lopsided victories, his stats would be untouchable. I sincerely doubt that you could say the same about Chuck Muncie & Tony Dorsett. The Heisman is a college award, but why don’t you check to see what one of Archie teammates, Anthony Munoz said about Archie. The Bengals did not know how to use him. He could have been more productive if they knew how to utilize him. I wonder how many of you that responded ever saw Archie play? I had the privilege to see him in both of those seasons, and he was truly something to see.

  143. Kalo's Gun says:

    Toby Gerhart of Stanford losing to Mark Ingram. Of all the candidates, he had the better stats of the two. I even drew it up on a board for a 5 year-old, left their names out, explained the purpose of the Heisman, and asked the kid who the winner should be. He circled Gerhart’s stats.
    When I told him the “other” guy won, the kid said, “That doesn’t make any sense.” Ingram just made a better story.
    Bottom line, Heisman voters- write the stats out for a little kid and vote for whomever the kid picks.

  144. 1996 Danny Wuerffel, Florida, or Troy Davis, Iowa State. What a Joke! Lee Corso, a Florida native, being on TV every week running down Davis at ever chance he could and pumping up Wueffel is why Davis lost.

  145. First off wwe will never know if Nebreska would of beat Michigan since they did not play that year. Also Nebreska beat Mizzouri that year if memory serves me right after the refs game them a 5th down. And of course Michigan was the first team to be ranked #1 in both polls at that time at the end of the regular season and win their bowl game and not then been #1 In both polls. That is what led to the start of the BCS after that bs! Some coach actually voted them 3rd. Which opened up the door for Nebreska getting a share of the title. Was it Phillip Fulmer of Tennesse who was mad beacause his QB Peyton did not win it actually? Or by the way Nebreska played Tennesse in their bowl game that year and smoked Tennesse. Style points. Thanks for showing up Tennesse. Conspiracry theroy I think! Also Tom Osbourn annouced he was retiring after that year. Michigan got screwed should have been #1 in both polls.

  146. Barry Sanders losing to Ty Detmer

  147. Chad Sturdefant says:

    I can’t believe nobody has mentioned Kellen Moore!!! And before you start yelling, no I’m not a Boise State fan. But, this guy was/is the WINNINGEST QB in NCAA history. He had all the stats of Luck and everyone else in their with him but he accomplished it by playing the first half of the game where they all played the full game. And, he threw WAY fewer INTs.

  148. Charles crack head White over Billy Sims was a crock of crap.Charles White was never better than Billy Sims

  149. 1956 – Paul Hornung on a 2-8 Notre Dame team won over Jim Brown. Like just about all of the Irish Heisman winners, Hornung didn’t come close to deserving the award – he had half the rush yards and half the TD’s of Brown.

  150. And some years, there was just no great choice – 1987 when Tim (Why not give it to Notre Dame?) Brown won – he had just 32 catches for just 3 TD’s, which of course made him the most amazing player since Paul Hornung (and people wonder why half the world hates the Irish?). 32 catches? There were over 100 players that year with 50+ catches!

    But the only other option that year was Don McPherson at Syracuse…..so Tim Brown wins by default as the BPND (Best Player from Notre Dame). .

  151. bart starr—Joe namath ? Ripped

  152. I still can’t believe that Doug Flutie ever won a Heisman. Flutie? Really?

  153. Lance Schulz says:

    Wow, thanks for your Archie Griffin mention. I always thought Chuck Muncie should have gotten it that year. Archie’s senior year just didn’t measure up to his junior year, while Muncie literally did everything for a Cal team that came from nowhere. While you don’t mention it, he also was an excellent pass receiver at Cal.

    • But he didn’t win it. Archie did so quite crying about it. That was 40 years ago. We need to go back and study every voter that year and figure out what happened. I think two things happened. The Heisman committee wanted that 2 time winner and Archie was in the right place that year. Maybe intangibles that Archie did helped the team achieve more. I don’t remember, it was 40 years ago. Chuck Muncie was one bad dude.

  154. Ty Detmer over Rocket Ismail. In Ty’s last game in the Hawaiian Bowl, he threw 4 interceptions and the crowd starting chanting “Rocket should have got it” Notre Dame only lost 4 games in Rocket’s 3 years at the University. He was hurt in 2 of them and Lou Holtz apologized for not getting him the ball enough in the other 2.

  155. Kevin Meier says:

    Eddie George over Tommie Frazier in 1995. That was a joke! Even though Frazier never played Pro football we have no idea what he would have done in the pros at a position other than Qb because of his disability!

  156. Have a question and i’m trying to be fair what makes te’o better than jarvis jones, jones stats look better another snub for schools that are not as well known as other schools ? I want to comment this also I like notre dame and I have knothing against alabama . from a fan i would like to see notre dame win because they have not been there in awhile. would te’o get all this love if he played for a school with less tradition.

    • You have to look at their position. Jarvis Jones plays on the line a lot more often where he has the potential for sacks. Middle linebacker plays pass a lot more, just look at Teo’s ints.

  157. Peter Wilisch says:

    Tim Tebow. Year he did not get the Heisman, Sam Bradford got it, Tim led Gators to national championship beating the Sooners and Bradford in the NC game. Bradford over Tebow for Heisman that year???
    Tebow is another who should have won twice.

    • Tebow should not have even won his one. It should have gone to Darren McFadden beat the eventual national champs (LSU) single handed. Tebow had the story and an inflated number of goal line carries to inflate his stats. That being said Hershel Walker was the biggest Heisman mistake

  158. Steven Miller says:

    I cannot think of a more gross mis-Heisman awarding than with Detmer getting the Heisman over Rocket Ismail. Detmer put up great numbers but the only player in college football who was a threat to score EVERY time he touched the ball other than the Rocket was Reggie Bush.
    Detmer, playing at BYU, really didn’t face the level of competition Notre Dame and the Rocket faced. That, coupled w/ BYU’s ability to have 25yr old players due to sabaticles and double-redshirting, always leaves their program’s success in suspect.
    I also felt sports writers hoped the Rocket would return for his senior year and give them another year of his greatness and dominance. This didn’t happen resulting in Desmond Howard who was in this fan’s opinion a “Poor Man’s Rocket”.

  159. you are an idiot. still holding a 30 year grudge

  160. Woodson’s teams won the biggest games with him as the star. Did Peyton beat Florida??

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  161. Heyward Baxter says:

    Hershel. Won national championinship in 1980 as a freshman. Beat South Carolina & George Rogers, who won it, head to head. H. Walker did not win it because he was a freshman.

  162. Mike Kaman says:

    1995: Eddie George over Tommie Frazier
    what a crock

  163. Keith Byars was robbed in 1984. He led the nation in rushing in a tough Big 10 conference. All Flutie did was throw a lucky Hell Mary pass. But he was the All-American boy that was too short to play QB.

  164. 1974 Heisman voting came before the greatest games in college history. Anthony Davis was clearly the best, topped off by his performance against Notre Dame. Down 24-6 at the half, John McKay told the Trojans that AD was returning the second half kickoff back for a touchdown and the Trojans were going to win. Davis returned the kickoff back for a touchdown and the Trojans won 55-24.

  165. Bill Williams says:

    No S–T!! What a bow-tard!!

  166. George Nebitt says:

    How about when Danny Wuerffel won over Troy Davis? What a joke that was!!! Troy Davis did what no other player has ever done before and after his college career was over at Iowa State. That was the biggest travesty ever in the Heisman Trophy award.

  167. Michael Brown says:

    The worst Heisman injustice of all time… Herschel Walker, who led UGA to an undefeated National Championship season not getting the nod, only because he was a freshmen, and giving it to future convict George Rogers, who had a mediocre career. Herschel went head to head with doper Rogers and whipped him solid. Serenity now!

  168. Pete Prescott says:

    Manning would have won if he didn’t crap the bed against Florida like he did everytime he played them. He had his chance but didn’t come through. He got some yards in that game but only in garbage time and you need a defining moment and he didn’t. People point to his TDs that year but they padded the numbers, did they need his 500 yards and 5 tds against Kentucky to squeak out the victory? The answer is no. Being the eventual best player in the NFL has nothing to do with the Heisman, Brady who owns Manning wasn’t even in the running. Woodson has had a great career and he beat his biggest rival that year, that is how it goes. Tennessee fans still cry about this one like it was a slight, it wasn’t, he didn’t have the best year of players playing that year. It has zero to do with him being bad, everyone knows he is great, but to say he didn’t win and he is not great is silly.

  169. Mannie Ortega says:

    HINGD SIGHT IS GREAT, ESPECIALLY IF YOU WAIT UNTIL MANY OF THESE GUYS END THEIR CAREERS. AS I RECALL, THE HEISMAN IS GIVEN TO THE BEST COLLGEGE PLAYER, NOT THE PLAYER WITH THE GREATEST POTIENTIAL TO MAKE IT AT THE NEXT LEVEL.

  170. snapblanketLinus says:

    —————————–
    There is no question that Gerhardt should have won back a few years ago. He led the nation in every significant way as a running back, and he did so with humility and ability. Only problem was, he was a rich white kid and the press was watching their darling Tiger Woods being destroyed and taking all that ad revenue to the toilet with him. It needed Mark Ingram, and he fit the bill. How’s that Ingram working out now? Alabama never has had a Heisman quality player, has it? Pffft. It’s had plenty. But Ingram wasn’t one of them. To this day, I think of how ripped off Gerhardt was. It was the day I stopped believe the liberal sportswriting press. For the record, congrats to Mark, he was a stand-up guy who wasn’t afraid to cry like a girl when he won. He was emotional and loving, and that was exactly what the world needed at that time. But he’ll always know he was second rate, and the facts in his Not For Long (NFL) career will bear that out.

  171. You are mixing a college season with a future NFL season…..the Heisman is earned by what small group of people (voters) think the “BEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER IS” I think they got it wring this year. Johnny Football is going to have a very hard time matching this season…..sometimes different conferences have a hard time adjusting to a new team in there conference. I think that is the case with Texas A & M. Only time will tell :)

  172. If that were the case Jim Brown should have on ove Paul Horning

  173. 1956 Paul Hornung over Johnny Majors. Hornung was quarterback for 2-8 Notre Dame team while Majors was a single wing tailback that led Tennessee to an undefeated season. Media bias for Notre Dame was to blame. To this date Hornung is only player to play for a losing team to win Heisman. 2-8 Really!!!

    • That was a GOOD selection, that year. What did Johnny Majors go on to achieve? Paul Horning; great running back and a team that included Bart Starr, Fuzzy Thurston, Max McGee Boyd Dowler, to name a few…oh, yeah, a coach named Vince Lombardi.

  174. Say whatever about the Peyton snub Chuck deserved that one,plus they had too share the crown with them suckers.

  175. Being a Purdue grad, i think one of the biggest mistakes was Steve Spurrier over Bob Griese in 1970!!!!

  176. How about 1970. Steve Spurrier over Bob Griese? I am still after 40+ years still mad about that one! Obviously a Boilermaker. But they do get it wrong many tmes.

  177. Im not quite sure you can truly call yourself a woodson fan wen you made no mention of the FACT that he played on all 3 sides of the ball. He was on both return teams and led the NCAA in yards, He was a receiver and did a damn good job at it, and he played defensive back. I am a Ohio State fan, but even as being that, I can tell you you were wrong on that one. Thirdly Woodson has been a massive success in the NFL. Even at his age, he is still one of, if not the toughest DB’s in the game. Shame on you for that one.

  178. Good Point about the national championship, but the heisman selection was made prior to the NC game. Even though the Gators would have won the game anyway (SEC rules), the fact that Tebow didn’t get the trophy probably gave the Gators more motivation.

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  179. tidalwave says:

    Biggest injustice ever? Jim 5th in the voting. Maybe the greatest college athlete ever. 5th?

  180. Promoting a murderer. Does that make you feel like a tough guy? You are disgusting.

  181. Gobble Maballsack says:

    What Manziel over Te’o? How does a freshman, not that I don’t think he should win the award because of that, but he does have a lot of years left and this was Te’o’s last chance, win the award over the best player on the best team who who has the best defensive tangibles and nation and best intangibles offense or defense? Te’o is the heart, soul, and body of this Irish team. Without him, they maybe go 7-5. I have no idea how he didn’t win, what were the voters smoking?

  182. Debbe Peters says:

    Sam Brasford was Rookie of the Year. What has Tebow done since going pro

  183. MiddleAgeRage says:

    As long as you’re fantasizing, that 1997 Nebraska team wouldn’t have made it to the BCS Championship Game if video replay was utilized back then. They would lose vs Missouri since their miracle TD in the closing seconds of regulation was bogus – the ball clearly hit/was kicked by the foot of another Husker player prior to being caught in the end zone. According to the rules, that TD should have been disallowed.

    Indeed, the 1997 Huskers were a formidable team. But they weren’t truly undefeated.

  184. Justin Gault says:

    I have to say this is one of the dumbest articles I have ever read. I get so annoyed when writers lazily evaluate someone’s greatness in college based on their pro career. The Heisman trophy is given to the best college player, not the player with the greatest pro potential. There are several examples of when the Heisman voters chose not to select the top college player during a given year (because the player was not an upper classmen, played a non-offensive skill position, etc.), but, arguing that players like Chris Weinke Rashan Salaam, etc. should not have won the Heisman because their competitors were much better pros, is just idiotic. I usually avoid websites like yardbarker because the writing is bad and the writers are usually stupid, but, a well done article on this topic would have been really enjoyable to read. Thanks for reminding me why I should never even attempt to read a yardbarker article…

  185. Okay, so there is one flaw in your logic. If Dorsett should have won in 1975, and we all know he did win in 1976, and that one is not on your list, then that would mean that Dorsett would have won two. Now, I’m not suggesting that would not have been deserved, but that would be another two time winner. ‘

    Has anyone considered that on the logic of the Gary Beban win, the Klein or Teo would have won over Manziel, because Manziel has at least one more try at the Heisman?

  186. Middle Age Rage says:

    It wasn’t a 5th down which enabled Nebraska to beat Missouri. It was their miracle TD at the end of regulation, after which they barely squeaked by the Tigers in OT. Replays clearly showed the TD pass into the end zone bouncing off the foot of/being kicked by another Husker, which would have nullified the subsequent catch on the deflection IF replay were in use back then – or if the refs had better eyesight.

  187. Rocket Ismail was one of the greatest college players of all time giving it to Detmer was a joke. Rocket reponded in a classy manner also just like Teo did this past Saturday.

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  188. Kenny Hale says:

    What About Walter Payton’s Snub?

  189. You would not have heard Te’o’s name had he been in the SEC anf furthermore, there was a lot of playup on his losing his grandmother and girlfriend. As tragic as both events played on his emotional performance, ND definitely lost to Stanford, as have many teams in the past by favorable and unquestionable bad calls.

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    Vince Young over Reggie Bush, 2005. Reggie was surrounded by other great players. Vince carried the team on his back.

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