The Heisman Trophy! Fun Facts and More!

So, this isn't so much about Boise State, but I looked up some stuff about the history of the Heisman Trophy. I do explain why Kellen Moore should have won it, and I decided to share what I learned with my fellow Boise fans! So if you need a conversation starter at your next tailgate party, or have nothing better to do, read on! Plus I'll throw in some historical facts, so you can share them with other college football fans and seem smarter.


You could even rival his knowledge!

For those of you who don't know, the Heisman is named after John Heisman. If you could pick one guy to credit with the creation of football, it's this guy. The sport was already around, but he was the biggest factor into making it an official sport, with official rules and leagues. He played all along the offensive line, even though he was only 158 lbs. I know people were smaller then, but really? If a 158 lb guy played offensive line today, he would get bull rushed once and literally get knocked out of his socks! Despite almost being blind, he was a great coach, winning 33 straight games at Georgia Tech. So, since this guy is basically the reason we have football, he gets the most prestigious award named after him!


John Heisman, at age 56.

The award started in 1936, the first winner being Jay Berwanger. If you already knew that, you deserve a cookie. If you can pronounce his name correctly, please let me know, cause I'm not sure.

I was talking with my dad a while back, who said he heard from somewhere that the Heisman Trophy has changed, in terms of who wins it. He said the Heisman used to be more about a players career, rather than a season. So instead of just taking that as absolute fact (like I did when I heard the new Alice in Wonderland movie was great), and because I got really bored over the weekend, I decided to see exactly how it changed!

When looking at players who received votes back in the day, the vast majority were seniors. Of the first 13 heisman trophy winners, 12 were seniors. It took 7 years until the first underclassmen was even a finalist. That was sophomore Angelo Bertelli, who did win the Heisman eventually as a Senior. While there is no requirement for being a Heisman nominee (other than playing college football), the majority of the voters originally considered it a career award. The current season did matter most, but if you didn't have any major achievements before that season, you basically and no chance of winning it.


This is Angelo Bertelli. Back when quarterbacks could have any number they wanted! And I think this is the only pose quarterbacks did in the 40's.

Felix Blanchard and Glenn Davis (also known as "Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside") won the Heisman in back to back years, in 1945-1946. There were a lot of great players those two years, such as future NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Bobby Lane. and future Heisman Quarterback John Lujack. Even though Lane and Lujack put up good numbers for quarterbacks and had great seasons both of those years, what separated them was Blanchard and Davis had combined for 6,037 yards and 97 touchdowns in their careers. And winning 3 straight national championships and only 3 losses sorta helped. And why did Lujack win the Heisman? Because he already won 2 championships before leaving for WW2, and then had a great season to earn the award. Also, Angelo Bertelli beat out future NFL Fall of Fame Quarterback Otto Graham for the Heisman. Graham had better numbers and more impressive wins that year, but Bertelli basically won it because he played 1 more year than Graham. Before 1991, 76% of players who received votes were seniors. (Why was 1991 used? I'll explain in a little bit). Since then, that number decreased to 51%.

In the first 55 years of the Heisman Trophy, less than 25 underclassmen were even semi-finalists (semi-finalists finished in top 10). The underclassmen who did get votes are almost all college legends, like Doak Walker and Herschel Walker. But since 1991, that number has almost doubled. The first sophomore won the Heisman 71 years after it started, in 2007, who was Tim Tebow. You probably already know that, but I'm sure there are a few stupid people non-football fans reading this, for whatever reason. Now, why has it changed so much? How did it go from a career achievement to a single season award? I don't know if there is an exact reason, but I did find out roughly when people's perception of the award seemed to have changed.

In the first 55 years of the Heisman trophy, a good chunk of the winners had been finalists the year before, and a couple were nominee's 3 straight years. The ones who were dark horses at first, but ended up winning, barely did so; hardly any were consensus winners. No Heisman winner had a huge lead over everyone else AND be a preseason dark horse until.........Desmond Howard in 1991! Of the final possible points, Howard won 51% of the final points. He was the 3rd to receive over half the points, Vinny Testaverde and Tony Dorsett were the other 2, but both of those players finished in the top 5 for Heisman votes the year before they won it, so they had a career to earn votes off of. Howard, the year before he won the Heisman, had 10 touchdowns and less than 1000 scrimmage yards. Yet, in one season he went from a decent player to one of the best seasons in recent memory, winning the Heisman with 85% of the first place votes, something no one else has done.

I am NOT saying Desmond Howard didn't deserve it, because he did fit the Heisman's official definition: "the most outstanding player in collegiate football" The 2 runner-ups that year were Casey Weldon and Ty Detmer. Weldon was the starting quarterback for the #1 ranked Seminoles heading into the year, and Detmer was the reigning Heisman winner. Detmer started the year 0-3, something too big to overcome to win the Heisman. Casey Weldon had 1 more touchdown than Howard that year, and Weldon was a quarterback! So really, no one played well that year, except for Howard. After that, it's shifted to more of a seasonal thing. A sign of that is since 1991, only 5 Heisman trophy winners were a semi-finalist the year before (I'm including Reggie Bush, because he did have the trophy for a couple of years. But officially, it's only 4). The last Heisman winner who was even considered the year before was Reggie Bush, or Matt Leinart, depending on how you see it, which happened 5 (or 6) years ago.

Sorry if your brain is fried by now, so how about a short intermission?


Would you like some popcorn, or perhaps a carbonated soda?

Welcome back! Recently, you can see how your career no longer matters. Hardly anyone knew Robert Griffin before he won it, Cam Newton didn't even play FBS football in 2009, and Tebow only rotated at quarterback the year before he won the Heisman. Even this year, out of the Heisman hopefulls on ESPN, only Matt Barkley was considered last year, and he'll probably drop out after loosing to Arizona.

If the Heisman voting was the same as it used to be, Kellen Moore would have won the award easily, probably the first 2 time winner since Archie Griffin. A little side note, Moore is one of 17 players to be a nominee 3 times. Sadly, he didn't win it. But, the same thing happened to Marshal Faulk and Payton Manning. Matt Leinart was also a 3 time nominee and DID win the trophy. So it terms of an NFL career, history shows Kellen Moore will be in the Hall of Fame.

What I would like to see is the Heisman go back to a career award, because there are already 4 awards that are basically the same. Both the Heisman and the AP Player of the Year are for "the most outstanding player", and both the Walter Camp and Maxwell award are for the "Best player". Really, what's the difference between "outstanding" and "the best"? If the Heisman is the most prestigious, shouldn't it have the most prestigious requirements? Personally, I think that it should be for upperclassmen only, who have at least 2 years of starting experience (who actually played GOOD those 2 seasons). No sophomores or freshman, they can earn the other 3 awards. But the Heisman should be exclusive, because it is the biggest honor in all of football.

Yes, I know a lot of players leave early to go on to the NFL, so it might be harder to have a great career. To that I say too bad! You can get the other awards, but you'll have to have more than 1 good year to win something as prestigious as the Heisman. Even then, there are still a ton of great players who could make those qualifications. Landry Jones and Matt Barkley will more than likely finish the year in the top 10 all time for passing touchdowns. Montee ball has 74 career touchdowns, 5 away from being college's all time leader. Manti Te'o has over 400 career tackles, 32 for loss, 8 sacks, and now 5 interceptions. Those 4 right there are who I think the Heisman could be between, if it was a career thing.

Back to this year, if you want to know who I think should win it, I'd go with Te'o. I know Collin Klein is doing great, but if you say he should win it because he can run well for a quarterback and claim that's rare, I'll just ask you about Robert Griffin, Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, Colin Caepernick, Denard Robinson, or any of the other 16 quarterbacks that had 1000 yards and/or 15 + touchdowns from the past 5 years. Plus, those guys were all better passers than Klein anyway. If you take away Te'o from Notre Dame, that defense, as well as the team, would not be nearly as good. Really, it's been a while since we've seen a defender THAT dominant.

So that's what I found and think. Did you find it interesting? Or did you just skip down to the comments so you don't have to read the whole thing? Either way, I'm interested to hear what you all think. Even if it's random thoughts like how the heck is Yoggi Berra still alive.

This content was not created by OBNUG and therefore may not meet our standards. On the contrary, it probably exceeds them.

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