Ranking the 10 Biggest Heisman Trophy Snubs in College Football History

Danny Flynn@FlynnceptionSenior Analyst IDecember 3, 2011

Ranking the 10 Biggest Heisman Trophy Snubs in College Football History

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    This year's Heisman trophy race was one of the most crowded ever, as Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III beat out a stellar group.

    Alabama RB Trent Richardson, Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Wisconsin RB Montee Ball and LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu had outstanding seasons as well. Some of them have a legit gripe as to why they didn't win -as do some who didn't even get invited- but Heisman snubs are nothing new.

    They've been happening for decades.

    Here's a look at 10 of the biggest Heisman snubs in college football history.

1. Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma (2004)

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    If former Oklahoma star running back Adrian Peterson hadn't been a freshman back in 2004, the Heisman Trophy likely would have been his that year.

    Peterson finished third in the country with 1,925 rushing yards, and he scored 15 touchdowns that season as he helped guide Oklahoma to a berth in the Orange Bowl, but Peterson was edged out by USC QB Matt Leinart.

    Leinart not only beat him for the Heisman, he also ended up coming away with the national championship trophy in the Orange Bowl a month later. But if you stack up their respective regular seasons, it's obvious that Peterson had the more Heisman-worthy campaign.

2. O.J. Simpson, USC (1967)

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    O.J. Simspson’s resume at USC should include two Heisman trophies, but Simpson got stiffed as a junior because he happened to play during a time when it was almost unheard of for an underclassmen to win the award.

    Even though USC beat UCLA in one of the most memorable games in the history of the rivalry, and even though Simpson scored the winning touchdown to give the Trojans the 21-20 victory over the unbeaten No. 1 Bruins, UCLA QB Gary Beban still won the award.

    Simpson got his proper due the next season, when he took home the 1968 award, but in a fair world, the 1967 trophy should have been his as well.

3. RB Johnny Majors, Tennessee (1956)

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    I have a pretty strong feeling that we'll never see another quarterback with a record of 2-8 win the Heisman Trophy, but that’s just what happened back in 1956, when Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung took home the award.

    Yes, Hornung had a great individual year as a two-way star for the Irish, but it's 55 years later and Tennessee fans are still upset that he beat out Volunteers running back Johnny Majors for the trophy.

    Majors walked away empty-handed in one of the worst crimes ever committed by Heisman voters.

4. QB Chuck Long, Iowa (1985)

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    It’s impossible to say that Bo Jackson didn’t deserve the Heisman trophy in 1985, but you can certainly make the case that Iowa QB Chuck Long deserved it just as much, if not more, which is why the race ended up being so close.

    That year, Long had two signature wins on his resume over Michigan and Michigan State, and he guided the Hawkeyes to the No. 1 ranking in the country before an upset loss to Ohio State late in the season.

    For his efforts, Long was showered with awards, including the Maxwell Award, the Davey O’Brien Award and the Big Ten Player of the Year Award. However, he never got a Heisman to put on his mantle.

5. RB Marshall Faulk, San Diego State (1992)

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    Marshall Faulk may have had one of the greatest careers for a running back in NFL history, but even after accomplishing so much in the pros, I bet there’s still a little part deep down inside of Faulk that still feels slighted for not winning the 1992 Heisman Trophy.

    Faulk had a dynamite sophomore season that year, but he was no match for “legendary” Miami quarterback Gino Torretta, who took home the trophy and then proceeded to disappear into thin air.

    Faulk took the loss like a man, though, and he used it as motivation to put together a Hall of Fame NFL career.

6. Vince Young, Texas (2005)

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    Reggie Bush may have won the 2005 Heisman trophy for his many highlight-reel runs and his big-time productivity, but it was Texas QB Vince Young who proved that he was truly the top player in college football that season.

    Young, who finished a distant second in the Heisman voting, had one of the greatest single-game performances in college football history against Bush and USC in the BCS national championship game.

    Bush had to forfeit his Heisman following an NCAA investigation years later, but the truth is, he never deserved it anyway.

7. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh (2003)

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    Former Oklahoma QB Jason White may have been the least physically talented player to ever win a Heisman trophy, but because he happened to be the quarterback for a national championship game participant, he got to hoist the award in 2003.

    White was far from the best overall player in college football, though.

    The best player in the nation was WR Larry Fitzgerald at Pittsburgh.

    Fitzgerald only suited up for two seasons for the Panthers, but in his 26 total games, he managed to catch 161 passes for 2,677 yards and haul in a whopping 34 touchdown receptions.

8. Peyton Manning, Tennessee (1997)

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    Peyton Manning returned to Tennessee for his senior season with the intentions of winning both a national championship and a Heisman trophy, but Manning came away with neither after he was edged out by Michigan CB Charles Woodson, the first-ever primarily defensive player to win the award.

    It’s hard to say Woodson didn’t deserve the trophy that year, given the type of impact he had for the national champion Wolverines, but at the time, there were definitely a few fans who felt that Manning deserved the award after all that he had accomplished in his career.

9. Jerry Rhome, Tulsa (1964)

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    Jerry Rhome was ahead of his time at Tulsa, as he broke numerous collegiate passing records for the Golden Hurricane during his collegiate career. But sadly for Rhome, he got jipped out of the award in 1964 because he didn’t happen to play for a nationally respected team like Notre Dame.

    The actual Heisman winner, Irish quarterback John Huarte, did, and therefore he got to take home the trophy.

10. Ed Marinaro, Cornell (1971)

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    Ed Marinaro was the pride of the Ivy League in 1971 when he led the country in rushing for the second straight season.

    Marinaro’s rushing exploits weren’t enough to overcome the stigma of playing for an Ivy league school, though, as the Cornell back ended up finishing second in the voting to Auburn QB Pat Sullivan in one of the closest races in Heisman history.


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