5. Auburn QB Pat Sullivan over Oklahoma RB Greg Pruitt (1971)
This is a classic case of a great teammate costing someone the Heisman.
Sullivan had a good, not great season (2012 YDS, 20 TD, 11 INT) and stunk up the joint (121 YDS, 2 INT) in a 31-7 loss to Alabama in the Iron Bowl.
Pruitt? He was a statistical monster (1,665 YDS, 9.4 AVG, 17 TD) that was hurt by the fact his quarterback, Jack Mildren, finished sixth in the voting while he finished third. Forty years later, we’re still trying to figure out how someone who averaged nearly 10 yards per carry didn’t win the bronze statue.
4. South Carolina RB George Rogers over Pitt LB Hugh Green (1980)
The Heisman voters’ bias against defensive players was most-obvious in this instance, as Rogers – a South Carolina running back – won the award with a solid 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns.
That would be worthy if it weren’t for Green’s insanely dominant senior year at Pitt. The linebacker was a three-time First Team All-American after being selected on the second team as a freshman. He compiled an eye-popping 17 sacks and 77 solo tackles as a senior. ESPN ranked him the 14th greatest college football player ever, yet he has no Heisman to show for it.
3. Miami (FL) QB Gino Torretta over SDSU RB Marshall Faulk (1992)
Torretta had average numbers (3,060 yards, 19 touchdowns, seven interceptions) while Faulk was great (1,630 yards, 15 TDs) against defenses built to stop him after one of the top freshman seasons in NCAA history.
The ‘Canes’ QB benefited from the spotlight at Miami (FL), a.k.a. “Quarterback U,” which won its first 11 games before getting routed by Alabama in the national championship game – during a poor performance by Torretta.
But hey, Faulk got the last laugh after leaving San Diego State for a Hall of Fame career in the NFL while Torretta, well, didn’t. This vote needs a do-over. Badly.
2. UCLA QB Gary Beban over USC RB O.J. Simpson (1967)
This was a head-scratcher for many reasons. UCLA quarterback Beban had just fair numbers, throwing for 1,359 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions while losing a classic game to Simpson’s rival USC.
In addition, Simpson capped the victory over the cross-town rival with a 64-yard, go-ahead touchdown that has gone down as one of the great plays in college football history – the definition of a Heisman moment. It handed the Bruins their first loss en route to an eventual national title for the Trojans.
Oh yeah, and Simpson ran for over 1,400 yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Obviously, Simpson’s not getting a lot of sympathy these days despite the slight.
1. Notre Dame QB Paul Hornung over Syracuse RB Jim Brown (1956)
The “Golden Boy” led Notre Dame in passing, rushing, touchdowns, punting and as a reliable return man. But Hornung’s Irish finished 2-8 and he had three touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Let those numbers soak in for a second.
Brown, who finished fifth in the voting (Johnny Majors was second), put forth one of the most-impressive seasons for a college football player in history. He ran for 986 yards and amassed 14 total touchdowns in just eight games for Syracuse.
This wasn’t just another Notre Dame player being overrated, this was blatant racism by the voters. Legendary sports writer Dick Schaap was so outraged he vowed to never vote for the Heisman again.
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