College Football: Heisman Trophy Legend Archie Griffin's Views and Activities

James WalkerAnalyst IIDecember 10, 2010

To date, there is only one college football player that has won the Heisman Trophy two times—Ohio State Buckeye legend Archie Griffin.  Today, I spoke with him about his life, viewpoints, and current activities.

Griffin is heavily involved in the Wendy's High School Heisman Award.  The program celebrates high school seniors across the country who excel in academics, athletics, and community leadership.  He has been involved with the program from the very beginning in 1994.

This Saturday, prior to college football's Heisman Trophy ceremony, two high school students, one male and one female, will be selected from 12 national finalists.  They will be awarded a $500 Wendy's gift card, a Wendy's High School Heisman Trophy, a Heisman patch and a $10,000 monetary award for their respective high schools.

We also talked about today's college football world and the Heisman Trophy.  Here are the highlights of the interview:

  • When asked who he voted for in this year's Heisman race, he declined to answer, stating that he never divulges to anyone whom he votes for.
  • Regarding Cam Newton, the Auburn Tigers quarterback who is heavily favored to win, he felt he was deserving and all the controversy surrounding him and his father should have nothing to do with his eligibility to win the award.
  • We discussed running back LaMichael James of the Oregon Ducks.  Griffin was very complimentary of James, and thinks he is a tremendous athlete who is deserving of the award.
  • Griffin described in detail the differences between the Heisman Trophy today and when he won it in 1974 and 1975.  He said that back then it was an end-of-season announcement, and the award was presented followed at a dinner where the finalists and families met and celebrated.  Today, the Heisman is scrutinized from the beginning to the end of the season with great coverage.
  • The transition from college to professional football was discussed, and he felt that opportunity played a part equal to skill and talent.  Furthermore, he recommends to all college football athletes that they take advantage of the ability to earn their degrees while in college.  Only a small percentage will ever go on to play in the NFL, and even then, it only lasts for 10 to 15 years at most.

The part of the interview that stood out most was when I asked him what influenced and inspired him to be the best he could be and win the Heisman Trophy in 1974 and 1975.  His answer was his family.  His mother and father wanted all their children (Griffin has six brothers and sisters) to get a college degree, and playing football for Ohio State was his means of doing so, just as track and field was for his sister Krystal.

Griffin would later return to Ohio State to earn his MBA and is currently the President and CEO of the Ohio State University Alumni Association.

Archie Griffin was a tremendous athlete on the field and continues to show his talents off the field even to this day.  The late great Woody Hayes said of Griffin: "He's a better young man than he is a football player, and he's the best football player I've ever seen".

In the brief time I was honored to speak to him, I could hear why Coach Hayes felt that way.