We continue with our 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. This is our fifth column in the series, as a result.
By the way, here is our mythical national championship analysis from this season, too, for context.
1960 Heisman Trophy winner: Joe Bellino, RB, Navy (original); Jake Gibbs, QB, Mississippi (revised)
The Navy Midshipmen posted a 9-1 regular-season record and landed an Orange Bowl berth, thanks to the efforts of running back Joe Bellino, who posted 1,113 scrimmage yards while scoring 3 touchdowns. The scoring total is a little low, and we have to see how the yardage stacks up against other candidates, but we’re not sold (yet?) on Bellino’s vote win.
No traditional quarterbacks really stood out, although several QBs who doubled as runners show up in our perusal of the statistical sheets for the season. Here’s our list of vetted Heisman candidates:
- Tommy Mason, RB, Tulane: 1,039 scrimmage yards and 5 TDs
- Jake Gibbs, QB, Mississippi: 1,216 total yards with 17 total TDs and 5 INTs
- Billy Kilmer, QB, UCLA: 1,889 total yards with 16 total TDs and 8 INTs
- Tom Matte, QB, Ohio State: 1,419 total yards with 10 total TDs and 4 INTs
- Alan Rozycki, RB, Dartmouth: 1,013 scrimmage yards and 5 TDs
The Big Green only went 5-4 in the Ivy League, so we can move Rozycki to the side. The Buckeyes went 7-2, but they finished third in the B1G, which hurts Matte’s bid here a lot. The Bruins posted a 7-2-1 mark out west, but that was just good enough for third place in the AAWU. The Rebels went 10-0-1 with a Sugar Bowl win, and that’s the best team season above. We like Gibbs’ numbers, too.
With the Green Wave finishing under .500 for the season, this looks to come down to Bellino and Gibbs. Both teams had great seasons, and it just depends on what we’re going to value here. But SOS is also telling: Mississippi played a schedule ranked 20 spots higher than Navy did, in terms of strength. That’s a huge difference, and with the minimal INTs for Gibbs, we have to think he should have won this award.
He did finish third in the voting at the time, so this isn’t a dark horse … It’s hard for us to figure how a guy who scored just 3 times all season could win the vote. That is pretty weak, no matter how good of a runner you are. Top RBs bust off several long(er) TD runs a season, really. Why was Bellino not the first option near the goal line, either? It doesn’t matter know, but statistics do matter here.
Congratulations to Jake Gibbs, the real Heisman Trophy winner from 1960.