Once again, we’re here with 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 3 winners in the 9 seasons of study so far, so that tells you a lot about … well, many things. What will happen today? We never know in advance, which makes it all the more fun!
By the way, here is our mythical national championship analysis from this season, too, for context.
1965 Heisman Trophy winner: Mike Garrett, RB, USC (original); Steve Sloan, QB, Alabama (revised)
Southern California started earning its reputation as Tailback U this season, as running back Mike Garrett won the Heisman vote, after compiling 1,534 scrimmage yards and 14 scrimmage TDs. The Trojans played a Top 25 schedule, too, so he did the dirty work for a 7-2-1 team against pretty good competition overall.
Yet, as always, we examine the field for other contenders. Here’s our final list of fully vetted Heisman candidates:
- Howard Twilley, WR, Tulsa: 1,779 receiving yards and 16 TDs against middling competition
- Donnie Anderson, RB, Texas Tech: 1,502 scrimmage yards and 17 TDs against above-average schedule
- Floyd Little, RB, Syracuse: 1,313 scrimmage yards and 15 TDs against average opponents
- Bob Griese, QB, Purdue: 1,934 total yards with 17 TDs and 8 INTs against Top 20 schedule
- Steve Sloan, QB, Alabama: 1,499 total yards with 16 TDs and 3 INTs against Top 12 schedule
- Clinton Jones, RB, Michigan State: 1,214 scrimmage yards and 12 TDs against Top 3 schedule
Let’s start with the two QBs: Sloan threw the ball less, but he led the nation in QB rating (153.8) by a large margin, and his team went 8-1-1. We think that’s a better season than Griese’s season (128.9 rating) on a 7-2-1 squad. That narrows this down a little bit. Twilley played against the softest schedule, which explains his statistics, although like Tulsa QB Jerry Rhome last year, he clearly was pretty stellar.
As for the RBs, can anyone top Garrett’s season? Jones has the best combo of stats and SOS, but we think Garrett’s numbers still top the crop. Therefore, for us, it comes down to Garrett or Sloan: The fact Alabama won the AP title is irrelevant, since this is a regular-season award. But he did pull more strings for his higher-achieving team, as USC wasn’t in contention for the MNC. That is a lot of pressure.
For that reason, we’re going to go with Sloan here, which may not be a popular decision for hard-line purists and traditionalists, but to lead a team through a very hard schedule to the precipice of the MNC while performing at a high level says a lot to us. Remember, we didn’t even give Garrett the league MVP for his conference, either, so at least we’re consistent.
Congratulations to Steve Sloan, the real Heisman Trophy winner from 1965.