The Heisman Trophy is the most illustrious individual award in all of American sports. Despite this – or, perhaps, because of it – it generates countless debates on a yearly basis, some of which are hugely important.
The 2021 Heisman race is likely to be remembered as such, not only because it appeared to be wide open even in the later stages of the regular season, but also because some were considered absent from the final round. .
The favorite to bet on winning the title in 2021 is Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who many consider not even the most talented player on his team. That honor would go to quarterback Will Anderson Jr., who leads the country with 32.5 pointless tackles and 15.5 pitches. Those stats are also lower than that of Aidan Hutchinson, finalist Heisman, the only defender on the list.
Other detracts from the 2021 finalists note how Michigan State got back Kenneth Walker III and Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, one-time leaders of the Heisman discussion, were absent. in the final round. While that doesn’t take anything away from the four finalists (Young, Hutchinson, Kenny Pickett and CJ Stroud), it does illustrate the enthusiasm with which fans discuss Heisman.
However, the 2021 race is not the first to cause controversy. Not with a long shot. There have been some intense races in recent years, whether because of their lack of clear stars among their finalists, less inspiring competitors or simply just See who finally brought the hardware home.
That’s not likely to change any time soon – the voting process includes 870 voting members and regional bias, anyway. Since Sporting News can’t look to the future, we look to the past with keen insight to recall some of the worst Heisman Trophy races in the award’s illustrious history:
2009: Mark Ingram via Toby Gerhart, Ndamukong Suh
The 2009 Heisman Trophy will be remembered not only as the closest race in prize history (Alabama rerun Mark Ingram beat Stanford’s Toby Gerhart with 28 points) but also because Ingram failed to win the prize. top personal award for his position, Doak Walker. Gerhart actually outperformed the second in javelin and touches (Gerhart had 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns compared to 1,858 yards and 17 points for Ingram) to win the prize.
The most frustrating part of the 2009 race wasn’t Ingram beating Gerhart, but the Nebraska defense handling Ndamukong Suh, the top defensive player in the country and easily the dominant/excellent/have the most valuable, only coming in fourth in the final vote. He finished the season with 85 tackles, 24 lost balls and 12 cuts. He was unstoppable in the Big 12 championship game, but that wasn’t enough to ensure he became the first defensive-only player to win the award.
2004: Adrian Peterson’s freshman status costs him
Leinart was a Troy quarterback in the midst of their Pete Carroll reign, and made 3,322 yards and 33 touchdowns in six intercepts for the undefeated Trojans – a respectable decision, all in all. Consideration. But Leinart’s play is nothing short of groundbreaking, while a freshman running back from Oklahoma is proving to the world how dominant he will be for years to come.
Adrian Peterson put up incredible numbers in his first season at Norman, running at 1,925 yards and 15 touchdowns with 5.7 yards per attempt. That includes nine straight 100-meter matches and three of more than 220 metres. He is clearly different from the rest of his Heisman competition (Leinart, Oklahoma quarterback Jason White and Utah quarterback Alex Smith) and will go on to have the greatest professional career ever. But the voter’s determination to vote for the seniors made the award out of the hands of Peterson. An underclassman wouldn’t win the award until Tim Tebow of Florida in 2007. A freshman didn’t win it until Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M in 2012.
2003: Larry Fitzgerald’s brilliance is knocked out
DeVonta Smith in 2020 became the first person to win the Heisman Prize since Desmon Howard in 1991. But Larry Fitzgerald should have claimed that honor in the 2003 Heisman race after making 92 receptions with 1,672 yards. England and 22 touch the ball 8-5 Pitt.
White had 3,846 passes and 40 touchdowns to 10 interceptions for the Sooners ending the game for the BCS championship but, again, voters prioritized stats over plays when voting. In that sense, it is almost always a quarterback award, if no other player touches the ball more. At least, voters understood that Fitzgerald’s dazzling form was enough to put him in a not-so-distant runner-up position in 2003 (he was only 128 points behind White).
2000: LaDainian Tomlinson finished fourth
Tomlinson was not exactly an anonymous commodity as he dashed for 2,158 yards and 22 touchdowns as senior for 10-2 TCU in 2000; he ran 1,974 yards and 20 points the year before, when Ron Dayne won the Heisman Prize. However, despite dashing more than 4,000 yards in a two-season span, Tomlinson finished a silly fourth in the Heisman vote behind three quarterbacks (starting to see the trend?) It’s Florida State’s Chris Weinke , Josh Heupel of Oklahoma and Drew Brees of Purdue, respectively.
While those players certainly put up respectable numbers, again, they are hardly surprising. Meanwhile, Tomlinson’s single-season run total was the fourth-highest at the time he made it in 2000, and eight yards more than Heisman winner Tony Dorsett in 1976.
1992: Gino Torretta keeps Marshall Faulk away from Heisman
That year was 1992. Miami’s ’80s reign seemed to be in full swing, as the Hurricanes won the split national title in 1991 and were poised to compete for the bronze championship. approved in 1992. The Hurricanes topped the nation – offense led by Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta. But his numbers (228 finishes out of 402 attempts to run 3,060 yards and 19 touchdowns with 7 interceptions) look very pedestrian by modern stature.
History has not been kind to Torretta’s Heisman, especially after Alabama’s top defensive school beat a trash-talking storm at the 1993 Sugar Bowl to win the national championship. Meanwhile, back-running sophomore Marshall Faulk of San Diego State jumped 1,630 yards and hit the ground 15 times. Hindsight is 20/20, but voters should have seen that Faulk’s brilliance can be credited to himself, and not just to Aztec WAC opponents.
1980: George Rogers replaces Hugh Green, Herschel Walker
South Carolina’s George Rogers has better stats than his Georgia opponent, dashing 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns compared to Walker’s 1,616 yards and 15 touchdowns, despite the fact that Rogers 219-168 behind that rushed over Rogers 219-168 in their head-to-head match. Meanwhile, arguably the best player in the country, Hugh Green as Pitt’s goalkeeper, finished runner-up in 1980.
How dominant was Green in 1980? He had 123 tackles, 17 tackles, seven mandatory fumbles, four clumsy recoveries, six defensive passes and 17 hurdles in midfield. He won Sporting News Player of the Year, Maxwell and Walter Camp awards that season, although clearly didn’t impress Heisman voters enough to warrant being a defensive player. First to win this award.
1956: Jim Brown’s Unrecognized Greatness
Paul Hornung was a versatile player for Notre Dame in 1956 but still had more interceptions (13) than missed passes (three). Meanwhile, Syracuse rerun Jim Brown led all of the Heisman finalist teams with 986 yards of dash and 13 touchdowns, all well above the 6.2 yards/execution average. He is 5th behind Johnny Majors of Tennessee, Tommy McDonald of Oklahoma and Jerry Tubbs of Oklahoma.
It’s easy to see why Brown’s greatness isn’t recognized in college football. Five years after graduating, Ernie Davis of Orange became the first black player in college football history to win Heisman.