On with the show for major college football history on 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 have confirmed just 2 winners in the 7 seasons of study so far, so that tells you a lot about … well, many things.
By the way, here is our mythical national championship analysis from this season, too, for context.
1963 Heisman Trophy winner: Roger Staubach, QB, Navy (original, confirmed)
Navy Midshipmen junior quarterback Roger Staubach won the vote, as his team finished the regular season ranked No. 2 after a 9-1 march through a middling schedule. The future NFL star posted 2,073 total yards, with 16 total touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He won this award with his legs, for sure, as he ran for 9 TDs on the year; Staubach’s passing was barely … passing, with 7 TDs and 7 INTs.
So, of course, we have to examine the field for other contenders. Here’s our very short list of vetted Heisman candidates:
- Sherman Lewis, RB, Michigan State: 890 total yards, 9 total TDs against Top 10 schedule
- Bob Berry, QB, Oregon: 1,733 total yards with 19 TDs and 7 INTs, against a middling schedule
That’s it, really, in terms of quality players on quality teams producing quality numbers against “quality” schedule strength. The Spartans finished No. 9 in the country with a 6-2-1 record, as Lewis finished third in the Heisman vote. The Ducks finished 7-3 before earning a Sun Bowl victory, by the way, playing as an independent as Oregon didn’t join the AAWU until the following season.
In the end, we see Lewis’ statistics just not being impressive enough to overcome Staubach’s better numbers on a better team, despite the schedule weakness for Navy. Yes, the Midshipmen lost the de facto title game against Texas by a lot, and Staubach was contained by the Longhorns defense in a way that maybe reflects the weak schedule he played throughout the year.
But that’s not part of this analysis: We still don’t like the mediocrity of Staubach’s passing numbers, but he was quarterbacking for Navy—not Notre Dame. His supporting cast probably wasn’t that good, and he carried them so far. If Lewis had added another 300 yards to his total and some more TDs, with MSU winning one more game, then we may have been inclined to go his way here. But that’s not the case.
Congratulations to Roger Staubach, the legitimate Heisman Trophy winner from 1963.