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Friday
Mar182005

Friday Heisman Blogging (For Real This Time)

  • Last week we posted about the death of Army Heisman winner Glenn Davis.  Later this week, The Sporting News' Dave Kindred penned a nice piece about Davis.


Glenn Davis, a magic name in college football history.

He was the elusive "Mr. Outside" to fullback Felix "Doc" Blanchard's "Mr. Inside" on the greatest Army teams. The Cadets were undefeated national champions in 1944 and 1945 and undefeated with a tie in 1946, the year Davis won the Heisman. In those Davis-Blanchard years, Army went 27-0-1.

Five feet 9 and 170 pounds, Davis was a halfback with world-class speed. He once finished a game, jumped into a car, shucked his football gear for a track suit, borrowed spiked shoes and alit at the blocks to run the 100 in 9.7 seconds. One season at West Point, he carried 82 times for 944 yards, an 11.5-yard average. His three-season average of 8.3 yards a carry remains a major-college record.

Davis wound up quietly donating his Heisman trophy to his high school alma mater, LaVerne High School in Bonita, California.  He was the stuff of legend and ended up married to Elizabeth Taylor for a while.

Interesting trivia in the article, about the auction prices for Heisman trophies.  Yale's 1936 winner, Larry Kelley, raked in $328,110.  Notre Dame's Paul Hornung, who won it in 1956, sold his for $250,000.  USC's O.J. Simpson, to pay off his civil trial fees and penalties, received $230,000 for his trophy.  I wonder how antsy the athletic directors at Notre Dame, Ohio State, and USC are to pawn those things off?  Just kidding of course, but each school controls at least six live Heisman trophies, easily worth over a million dollars in total.

  • Although not a Heisman winner, former Oklahoma back Buck McPhail helped block for 1952 Heisman winner Billy Vessels.  He passed away a week or so ago.  He was part of the first thousand-yard rushing tandem in college football history in '52, gaining 1,018 yards and 6.3 yards per carry.
  • Here is a Heisman link I have found and will add to our links section soon:
  • CNNSI Statitudes-From Heismans to bowls.  There is a theory out there that winning the Heisman is a bowl curse.  The link is a bit dated (January 1, 2001), but if anything, only the undeserving, or at least weaker winners, have struggled.  Examples-
Credible Heisman Winners-
Desmond Howard, Michigan 1991
1992 Rose Bowl Performance
35 Rec Yards, 95 Total Yards
Washington 34, Michigan 14

Charlie Ward, Florida State, 1993
1994 Orange Bowl
24 Comp/43 Att (56%) 286 Yards, 0TD/0 INT
FSU 18, Nebraska 16 (FSU wins national championship)

Rashaan Salaam, Colorado, 1994
1995 Fiesta Bowl
27 Carries, 83 Yards, 3 TD
Colorado 41, Notre Dame 24

Eddie George, Ohio State, 1995
1996 Citrus Bowl
25 Carries, 101 Yards, 1 TD
Tennessee 20, Ohio State 14

Danny Wuerffel, Florida, 1996
1997 Sugar Bowl
18 Comp/34 Att (53%) 306 Yards, 3TD/1 INT
Florida 52, Florida State 20 (Florida wins national championship)

Charles Woodson, Michigan, 1997
1998 Rose Bowl
1 INT, 4 Tackles, 7 Rec Yards
Michigan 21, Washington State 16 (Michigan wins national championship)

Ricky Williams, Texas, 1998
1999 Cotton Bowl
30 Carries, 203 Yards, 2 TD
Texas 38, Mississippi State 11

Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, 1999
2000 Rose Bowl
34 Carries, 200 Yards, 1TD
Wisconsin 14, Stanford 9

Questionable Heisman Winners-
Ty Detmer, BYU, 1990
1990 Holiday Bowl
11 Comp/23 Att (48%) 120 Yards, 1TD/1 INT
Texas A&M 65, BYU 14

Gino Torretta, Miami, 1992
1993 Sugar Bowl
24 Comp/56 Att (43%) 278 Yards, 0TD/3 INT
Alabama 34, Miami 13 (Miami loses national championship game)

Chris Weinke, Florida State, 2000
2001 Orange Bowl
25 Comp/52 Att (48%) 276 Yards, 0TD/2 INT
Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2 (Florida State loses national championship game)

To me, it appears the legend going around that Heisman winners have bad bowl games is false.  But, if you insert a simple qualifier before the initial theory, we have a new, well backed theory.

Before-Heisman Winners have bad bowl games
New-Dubious Heisman winners have bad bowl games; legitemate Heisman winners have solid or better bowl games.

Look at the data above; of the eight "legitemate" Heisman winners listed, three won a national championship, all had successful individual games, and only two participated on losing teams.

Yet looking at the "dubious" Heisman winners, two of them participated in and lost national championship games, both with terrible performances.  All three had bad games.

The story stops in 2001, but since then the following gentlemen have won the Heisman Trophy:
2001-Eric Crouch, Nebraska
2002-Carson Palmer, USC
2003-Jason White, Oklahoma
2004-Matt Leinart-USC

Again, the revised theory we have made, holds. 

Crouch and the Nebraska option were suffocated by Miami in the Rose Bowl, and he joined the ranks of dubious recent winners losing in a championship contest.  In retrospect, Crouch was a solid winner, but in a fairly weak Heisman candidate field.

Palmer had an incredible finish to the 2002 season, directing USC's revival and smashing an upstart Iowa in the Orange Bowl.

Jason White had a terrible Big 12 Championship game against Kansas State, but behind his 40 touchdown tosses won the award before losing in a championship match against LSU.  He won in much the same way that Ohio State's Archie Griffin won the award, with voters mailing in their ballots before the season finished, too late to recast their votes after a late-season change (White's collapse/USC's Anthony Davis' incredible performance against Notre Dame that forced a change in Heisman voting rules).

Last year, Matt Leinart beat a loaded field, albeit with a fairly boring season, then eviscerated Oklahoma in a championship game with 5 touchdown tosses and a 55-19 final outcome.

  • Who should have won the Heisman?
Heisman revisionism is always interesting, in much the same way people look back on the contributions of the various American Presidents.  Opinions and the standards by which we judge and determine are fluid and ever-fickle.  Here is a Statitudes piece taking a skeptical look back.

1992 winner: Gino Torretta, QB, Miami
Statitudes nominee: Garrison Hearst, TB, Georgia

1996 winner: Danny Wuerffel, QB, Florida
Statitudes nominee: Jake Plummer, QB, Arizona State

2000 winner: Chris Weinke, QB, Florida State
Statitudes nominee: LaDainian Tomlinson, TB, TCU

Can't say we agree with any of these, except perhaps the Plummer choice.  Did the Heisman voters get it right?  Who was your choice in 1992, 1996, and 2000?

  • Final thought-Is there any doubt right now that the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner will be one of the following three players-Reggie Bush, TB, USC, Matt Leinart, QB, USC, or Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma?  Injuries, and other unforseen situations can easily shake this up, but this thing has the feel of an incredibly hyped, yearlong battle among the superstar troika here, from two of the most prominent Heisman programs, including the defending award winner, and two backs from programs with a rich history of Heisman backs.
We have a lot more Heisman talk to address in the coming weeks, please continue to stop by.  Look for some kind of very early Heisman preview next week.  We'll float some names outside of the "Big 3".

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Reader Comments (1)

IF Texas beats OU somehow and Vince Young plays well, I think he's a strong darkhorse/contender.
March 19, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Kim

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