For the second half of our doubleheader today, we continue with our new miniseries on major college football history for MNC Wednesdays, as we go back and look at Heisman Trophy winners from the past—and whether or not they truly deserved the award. We started in 1956, as that was the most distant season where we have something resembling full statistics for offensive players.
By the way, here is our mythical national championship analysis from this season, too, for context.
1958 Heisman Trophy winner: Pete Dawkins, RB, Army (original, confirmed)
With 922 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns (and one interception thrown), Army Black Knights running back Pete Dawkins won the Heisman vote after leading his team to an 8-0-1 record and a No. 3 ranking in the final Associated Press poll. On the surface, that looks like a solid slate for the award.
Yet, who else can we consider? Here’s our list of vetted candidates:
- Randy Duncan, QB, Iowa: nation-leading 136.8 QB rating, 12 TDs passing, 9 INTs, 5 TDs rushing
- Dick Bass, RB, Pacific: 1,482 scrimmage yards, 16 TDs, 2 INTs
- Ron Burton, RB, Northwestern: 1,005 scrimmage yards, 4 TDs
That’s about it. The Wildcats finished just 5-4 in a tough B1G crowd, so we can drop Burton from consideration, really. Duncan compiled his numbers against the No. 2-ranked schedule in the country, while Bass—with the best stats—played for a 6-4 small school against a pretty mediocre schedule. As for Dawkins, he did his work against an above-average schedule.
So this comes down to Dawkins or Duncan: This was not a QB era, of course, and even though Duncan led all other qualified QBs by about 20 points in efficiency rating, those 9 INTs really stand out to us as being problematic. The turnover margin for Dawkins is better, even if it came against a weaker schedule. We do like Army’s overall slate, though, so even though it’s close in our minds, we will confirm the vote.
Congratulations to Pete Dawkins, the confirmed Heisman Trophy winner from 1958.