The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious award in all of sports. It is an award that is bestowed on the best college football player for that given year.
This is not always the case.
The Heisman is sometimes presented to the best player on the best team. Is that player always the best player in the country?
I would argue, no.
Eye-popping stats and gaudy numbers often give Heisman voters something to quantify performance. But do they always consider the level of competition or the system a player operates in?
Most often not.
Since researching this, I have also noticed that there was at one time an extreme bias against freshman and sophomores, as well as defensive players.
A few times the award was given to someone I believe on the merits of their career and not for their performance on the field that year.
I have followed the award and the game of college football religiously since I was six years old. That has been 30 years now. I find myself almost every year, disappointed in who is giving their acceptance speech at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York.
So I decided to make a list of the worst Heisman Trophy winners that I can remember.
I tried to keep this list as modern as a possible, I obviously cannot comment on players who I have never heard of or seen play. Unless it was egregious.
If there is a player I felt got outright jobbed that I can't ever remember watching them play, I took note of it and as you will see I incorporated it into my piece.
But for the most part this is a list, MY LIST of the worst Heisman winners that I have seen and grown up with over the years. 30 years now.
Winner: Reggie Bush (2541) votes
Who Should of Won: Reggie Bush
Who Finished Second: Vince Young (1608)
Third: Matt Leinart (797)
I have the 2005 award on here, because...well...Reggie Bush really did get robbed of the award.
Does anyone out there in the 49 other states that are not Texas feel that Reggie Bush was the best player on the field in 2005?
The Heisman is an award given to player on the merits of what they accomplished on the field.
And I know he gave the trophy back, but they were going to take it from him anyway.
Regardless of where the actual trophy sits right now, Reggie Bush was the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner and the best player in the country in 2005.
But he still makes the top 10 of my all-time worst because as of now the 2005 Heisman has been vacated.
Winner: Eddie George (1460)
Who Should of Won: Tommie Frazier (1196)
Who Finished 2nd: Tommie Frazier
Third: Danny Wuerffel (987)
This may come as a shock to some, because I am an Ohio St. fan. Putting George on this list is almost the equivalent of saying I love the Michigan fight song. (I don't)
While George had a great year in 1995, I just don't think he was the best player that year.
I don't even think he was the best player on his own team, Terry Glenn was.
In the biggest game of that year against Michigan, he was outplayed by his counterpart on the opposing sidelines, Tim Biakabatuka.
Tommie Frazier, who some consider the greatest QB in the history of college football, was the best player in the country in 1995.
Watch the tape of the Championship game against the Florida Gators. I know they vote beforehand, but Frazier was amazing.
Frazier is probably the greatest college football player I ever watched and he is certainly the best player never to win the award.
Winner: Ron Dayne (2042)
Who Should Have Won: Michael Vick (319)
Who Finished 2nd: Joe Hamilton (994)
Third: Micheal Vick
This miscarriage of justice is twofold:
1. Dayne won the award based on a great career.
2. Bias against freshman.
Ron Dayne was a great college running back at Wisconsin. In 1999, he became the Division 1-A all-time leading rusher with 6,397 yards, breaking the mark previously set by Ricky Williams in 1998.
In 1999, the best player in the country was a freshman quarterback in Blacksburg, VA.
Dayne won the award in a landslide, because he broke a record it took him 4 years to achieve.
Micheal Vick took the Hokies to the championship game against Florida St.
Can anyone tell me after watching that game that Ron Dayne was the best player in the country in 1999?
It's not even close.
If Vick would have been a junior, the award would have been his, probably unanimously.
Winner: Jason White (1481)
Who Should Have Won: Larry Fitzgerald (1353)
Who Finished 2nd: Larry Fitzgerald
Third: Eli Manning (710)
Jason White was a system quarterback on arguably the best team in the nation. He put up great stats, as did his predecessor Josh Heupel... and after him, Sam Bradford. The tradition continues in 2011 with Landry Jones.
He was not the best player in the country. Larry Fitzgerald was.
Fitzgerald was a one man gang at Pittsburgh. The problem was he was only a sophomore.
It didn't help that White was coming off a torn ACL the year before and was the feel good story of the year.
Don't get me wrong, White posted All-American numbers, 40 TD's 8 INT's.
But White and Oklahoma choked in the Big 12 championship game that year against Kansas St, and he still took home the award.
In retrospect, I bet a majority of Heisman voters wish they could have their vote back.
This one was easy.
Winner: Archie Griffin (1800)
Who Should Have Won: Chuck Muncie (730)
Who Finished 2nd: Chuck Muncie
Third: Ricky Bell (708)
Once again I want to clarify things, I am a Buckeyes fan. I also want to note that I was born in 1974. I never watched Griffin play for OSU.
I saw him play a handful of times with the Cincinnati Bengals, and I thought he was slow and not anywhere near what I had heard about him from a young age.
Griffin was the Heisman winner in 1974. And clearly was the best player in the country that year.
But in 1975, he scored only four TD's, and was outscored by his own teammate Pete Johnson by 22 TD's.
For Griffin to tally 1800 votes, basically doubling the second place finisher, tells me that...
A. 1975 was a weak year in terms of great individual performance.
B. Griffin won the award based on his career legacy and the fact that he won the previous year.
C. Heisman voters got lazy.
I am not sure who should of won the award in 1975, but not a player who only scored four TD's.
Winner: Eric Crouch (770)
Who Should Have Won: Rex Grossman (708)
Who Finished 2nd: Rex Grossman
Third: Ken Dorsey (638)
Maybe Heisman voters were trying to make up for the mistake they made with Tommie Frazier?
Crouch had a good year running and throwing for Nebraska, along with a solid career for Nebraska, but wasn't great.
Rex Grossman, a sophomore, played out of his mind. He threw for under 300 yards just once (295) in the SEC! The 295 yards came against Florida St.
Grossman has stunk in the NFL, but I know why the Bears took a chance on him. Crouch was drafted as a receiver by the Rams, and quit before the season started. As a Rams fan, I had to throw that in there.
This is another instance of voters bias against underclassmen and someone winning the award based on career achievement.
This one shouldn't have even been close.,
Winner: George Rogers (1128)
Who Should Have Won: Herschel Walker (683)
Who Finished 2nd: Hugh Green (861)
Third: Herschel Walker
1980 was a terrible year for the award.
Voter bias was never more apparent than it was in 1980.
George Rogers was a good college running back, but he was not the best player in the country, and played on an irrelevant South Carolina team.
Hugh Green was great, but played defense, voters didn't consider defensive players serious candidates for the award.
Herschel Walker was probably the greatest player in the country, (College or Pro) on a National Championship team, but was only a freshman.
Green and Walker were clearly better than Rogers. But the senior offensive star won out.
If they would have voted after the Bowl Games, Jim McMahon might have received serious consideration.
Winner: Andre Ware (1073)
Who Should Have Won: Darian Hagan (5th, 292)
Who Finished 2nd: Anthony Thompson (1003)
Third: Major Harris (709)
1989 may have been the worst year ever for the trophy in terms of worthy candidates.
Andre Ware, put up crazy stats at the helm of Houston's run and shoot offense. The 95 points the Cougars put on an SMU team, just coming off the "death penalty" certainly helped.
Anthony Thompson had a good career rushing the ball for Indiana, but was never considered great.
Major Harris, was the exciting Mountaineers quarterback on a team competing for the National Championship.
But Darian Hagan was electric.
Nobody was that deserving in 1989, but I would have voted for Hagan.
1989, ushered in the era of the inflated passing statistics and its influence over Heisman voters.
95 points against SMU? Give me a break.
Winner: Ty Detmer (1482)
Who Should Have Won: Rocket Ismail (1177)
Who Finished Second: Rocket Ismail
Third: Eric Bieniemy (798)
Ty Detmer set a bunch of NCAA records, and threw three TD's to lead the Cougars to an upset victory over defending National Champions Miami Hurricanes.
BYU quarterback's have always placed in the Heisman voting, because they throw the ball all over the field.
Rocket Ismail, was the best player in the country. PERIOD.
Everyone knew that.
Voters couldn't resist the gaudy numbers.
This one was dumb.
Winner: Gino Torretta (1400)
Who Should Have Won: Marshall Faulk (1080)
Who Finished 2nd: Marshall Faulk
Third: Garrison Hearst (982)
Gino Torretta is the worst player to ever go home with the award. He was the quarterback of a loaded Miami team.
Torretta won the award, because he played the most visible position on the nations best team. That's it!
He shouldn't have even been invited to New York.
Marshall Faulk was one of the most explosive players in the history of college football. Voters knocked his level of competition. But that didn't stop them from voting for Andre Ware and Ty Detmer in previous years.
Faulk was also only a sophomore in 1992. He ended up finishing fourth in 1993 in a loaded year for Heisman talent.
I am not basing my list on pro potential, but simply who I felt was the best player in the country.
1967 Gary Beban
Should Have Won: OJ Simpson
In a head to head match up, Simpson and the Trojans were the victors. I find it hard to believe that OJ wasn't the best player in the country.
2009 Mark Ingram
Should Have Won: Colt McCoy
While Mark Ingram was very worthy of the award, if anyone deserved the career achievement trophy that voters have given away in the past, it was McCoy. I would also argue that in 2008, Bradford and McCoy should have been co-winners.
2000 Chris Weinke
Should Have Won: Josh Heupel
Flip a coin on this one. Heupel won the National Championship at Oklahoma. But was a system guy who put up huge stats. Weinke was I think 28 years old and was the QB of a great team. These are two qualities Heisman voters love.