Ralph D. Russo wrote a story for AP this week where he lists the top 12 players who didn’t deserve the Heisman Trophy. The anti-Irish sentiment just oozes out of this list. (BTW, no Reggie Bush, no push in the back and Irish beat USC – and maybe, just maybe – Charlie Weis is still the coach?)
So the criteria is: It's OK to be an inferior player as long as you are a member of the national champion, stats mean nothing …
And the conventional wisdom is: Questionable Heisman winners are mocked when they become lousy pros.
How about this for great Heisman winners.
Chris Weinke, who was member of AARP after his failed pro baseball career. He led Florida State to a national title and has had a bangup career as a backup. Not on the list.
Eric Crouch, perhaps the most undeserving of them all. Below average stats at Nebraska, couldn’t even throw the ball. Ran first and often. No career in pros, was even switched him to defensive back. Not on the list.
Charlie Ward. Heckuva point guard. Got whacked at Notre Dame in game of the century. Still want the T-shirt (2XLT, please). NOTRE DAME 31, National Champions 24
Danny Wuerffel. Another Florida fraud. The country fell in love with the Gators' flashy style. But he was ordinary.
Hornung and Brown are Hall of Famers. Huarte was a phony-holding-call-on-the-goalline-against-USC away from a national championship. Johnny Lujack and Johnny Lattner were too old for anyone alive to take shots at them. And what about Leon Hart, heck, he was a lineman and a tight end.
Make it a clean aweep, no Irish player ever deserved it.
Here is the AP rhetoric disguised as a legitimate analysis:
Here are 12 nominees for the most undeserving Heisman winners, with some help from the AP Top 25 voters. Notice that Michigan’s Charles Woodson, who beat out Peyton Manning in 1997, is NOT on the list?
1. Paul Hornung, qb, Notre Dame, 1956. The Notre Dame hype machine has produced a few unworthy Heisman winners but none more so than Hornung. He was a great player, but the Irish went 2-8. Any of the next four players in the voting — Johnny Majors from Tennessee, Tom McDonald and Jerry Tubbs from Oklahoma or Syracuse’s Jim Brown, who finished FIFTH — would have been more deserving.
2) Archie Griffin, rb, Ohio State, 1975. The only two-time Heisman Trophy winner never should have won his second. Griffin’s numbers were down across the board compared to 1974 and three other tailbacks — Cal’s Chuck Muncie, USC’s Ricky Bell and Pitt’s Tony Dorsett — had better seasons.
3) Gino Torretta, qb, Miami, 1992. Good quarterbacks on great teams tend to get too much support from Heisman voters. Torretta is not the only one on this list who falls into that category, but the most glaring. He beat out Marshall Faulk, who was a one-man show at San Diego State, running for 1,630 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“Torretta only threw 19 touchdown passes that season. There’s no way a quarterback could win the award with those kind of numbers today.” John Shinn, The Norman (Okla.) Transcript.
4) Tim Brown, wr, Notre Dame, 1987. Brown was a tremendous player, but he won the Heisman by being a great decoy. He had 990 yards from scrimmage and scored all of seven touchdowns, three of those on punt returns. Meanwhile, quarterback Don McPherson led Syracuse to an undefeated season and Pitt’s Craig Heyward ran for more than 1,600 yards.
5) Andre Ware, qb, Houston, 1989. Ware put up crazy numbers in the run-n-shoot (4,699 yards and 44 TD passes). And the Cougars were not afraid to run it up — remember 95-21 against an SMU program in its first season back from the so-called death penalty? The numbers overwhelmed Heisman voters — and NFL scouts — but Indiana’s Anthony Thompson ran for 1,793 yards and scored 25 touchdowns and would have been a better pick.
6) John Huarte, qb, Notre Dame, 1964. Considering the era, Huarte’s numbers were good: 2,062 yards and 16 touchdown passes for a Notre Dame team that went 9-1. But the guy who finished third, you might have heard of him: Illinois linebacker Dick Butkus.
“That one needs to be revoted.” Bob Asmussen, the Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette
7) Jason White, qb, Oklahoma, 2003. Good quarterback, great team. White had a huge season, but when he bombed in the BCS title game against LSU, it became very clear that Pitt receiver Larry Fitzgerald, the runner-up, or Mississippi’s Eli Manning, who finished third, should have won the award.
8) George Rogers, rb, South Carolina, 1980. Rogers was a standout college running back and ran for 1,781 yards, but Herschel Walker was a freshman at Georgia in 1980 and just as good. He finished third in voting behind the guy who really should have won it: Pitt defensive end Hugh Green, the Ndamukong Suh of his time.
9) Matt Leinart, qb, USC, 2004. Better than White and Torretta, but he had so many weapons at his disposal: Bush, LenDale White, Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett. Adrian Peterson was the runner-up that season as a freshman. Being a frosh surely didn’t help Peterson. Nor did White finishing third and pulling some of the Oklahoma vote away from Peterson.
10) Pat Sullivan, qb, Auburn, 1971. Sullivan and Ed Marinaro, the Cornell running back and future “Hill Street Blues” star, finished one-two in a fairly close race. Oklahoma tailback Gregg Pruitt ran for 1,665 yards, averaged 9.4 yards per carry, and scored 17 TDs, and really should have won the Heisman.
11) Ron Dayne, rb, Wisconsin. Dayne had a big year, 1,834 yards and 19 touchdowns, but this was really a career achievement award for breaking the NCAA record for yards rushing. Third-place finisher Michael Vick led Virginia Tech to the national championship game and was truly the best player in the country.
12) Les Horvath, qb, Ohio State, 1944. He led the Buckeyes to an undefeated season, but two sophomores for Army — Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard — finished second and third and had to wait to win their Heismans so the senior Horvath could win his.