Top 10 All-Time Heisman Trophy Snubs
As college football heads toward its bowl season, the winner of the prestigious Heisman Trophy will be announced Saturday night at Times Square.
This year, it’s a wide-open race - Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Alabama’s Trent Richardson and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III are among the top candidates - with no clear-cut winner out there.
But that hasn’t always been the case. In some years, it’s obvious who should have won - which is in contrast with who actually did. As such, we take a look at the Top 10 Heisman Trophy snubs of all-time.
10. Notre Dame RB Johnny Lattner over Minnesota RB Paul Giel (1953)
Lattner was a very good two-way player. He even was a dual threat on offense - but he didn’t lead Notre Dame in rushing or receiving the year that he claimed the Heisman. The luck of the Irish? No, it was more about Notre Dame’s visibility. Lattner helped lead the school to a 9-0-1 record that season, a mark that carried heavy weight with voters. Scout.com ranked Lattner the second worst Heisman winner ever.
The All-American Giel, for his part, ran for 749 yards and threw for 590 to lead Minnesota’s attack - big numbers back in those days.
9. Texas A&M RB John David Crow over Iowa DT Alex Karras (1957)
Crow was a two-way player who ran for 562 yards with six touchdowns as a running back and had five interceptions on defense for Texas A&M. But he played in just seven games thanks to injuries.
Karras won the Outland Trophy that season and was the nation’s most-dominant defensive force. A First Team All-American in 1957, he led a defense that allowed just 12.4 PPG. But it wasn’t enough to sway voters toward a defensive tackle.
8. Ohio State RB Archie Griffin over Cal RB Chuck Muncie (1975)
This snub was a strict numbers game between two running backs. Griffin had 1,357 yards and four touchdowns, while Muncie had 1,460 and 13 scores. Yet, Griffin was the winner? Hmm.
Well, it’s likely that Griffin was rewarded for the Buckeyes’ undefeated 1975 regular season; they fell to Dick Vermeil’s surprise UCLA team in the Rose Bowl. Plus, it was special to see Griffin become the first - and still the only - two-time Heisman winner. As for Muncie’s Cal Bears, they finished 8-3 after an 0-2 start and played in relative obscurity.
7. Nebraska QB Eric Crouch over Florida QB Rex Grossman (2001)
Crouch was given the nod most likely for his senior status - and as a career achievement - by setting numerous Nebraska records. He also had an awesome run vs. Missouri. Yes, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and 19 TDs but he also had more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (7).
We can’t believe we are saying this but Rex Grossman was robbed. That’s some positivity toward Rex for a change. He cleaned up in the award season - winning numerous player of the year honors but not the big one despite 34 TDs and nearly 4,000 yards passing in the SEC.
It was one of the closest Heisman races in history, decided by just 62 votes.
6. Oklahoma QB Jason White over Pitt WR Larry Fitzgerald (2003)
White had the advantage of playing in an Air Raid system at Oklahoma, where he threw for 3,846 and 40 touchdowns in his final season. Plus, he was the quarterback for the Sooners - definitely a prominent perch. White was exposed in the Big 12 title game when he threw two picks and no touchdowns in a blowout loss to K-State.
Fitzgerald was easily the best player. He amassed 92 catches for 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns as a sophomore at Pitt - earning an All-American selection and eventually leaving for the NFL draft.
We all know what has happened since.
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.