It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s time for MNC Wednesdays, as we go back and look at Heisman Trophy winners in the past—and whether or not they truly earned the award. We have confirmed just 3 winners in the 11 seasons of revision so far, and that tells us a lot about … well, many things. We never know in advance what will happen, and that makes it all the more fun!
By the way, here is our mythical national championship analysis from this season, too, for context.
1967 Heisman Trophy winner: Gary Beban, QB, UCLA (original); O.J. Simpson, RB, USC (revised)
UCLA Bruins quarterback Gary Beban won the vote, although he wasn’t very good—he only threw 8 touchdowns passes versus 7 interceptions, and his 227 yards rushing were the lowest of his career, as was his 1.6 ypc average, too. He did run for 11 TDs, though, but the Bruins lost their final two regular-season games to finish 7-2-1. Beban’s 136.9 QB rating was 8 points lower than his 1965 mark.
Beban had that outstanding sophomore season, and then he struggled as a junior. When his senior season started off so well for UCLA, it’s almost as if the voters decided he would win the award no matter what. This is one of many examples where we see flawed logic in the Heisman voting process. It’s one of the reasons why we’re here, as we did not even name Beban the conference MVP for this year.
So, as we do, there are other contenders to consider. Here’s our final list of fully vetted Heisman candidates:
- O.J Simpson, RB, USC: 1,652 scrimmage yards and 13 TDs
- Leroy Keyes, RB, Purdue: 1,744 scrimmage yards and 19 TDs
- Kim Hammond, QB, Florida State: 2,072 total yards with 17 TDs and 10 INTs
Now, before we go any further here, UCLA did play a great schedule (11th in SOS overall), so Beban did face great competition. That being said, we do think that Hammond was a better QB, after leading FSU to a 7-2-1 record against the 3rd-toughest schedule. The Seminoles QB also had a higher QB rating (139.7), so then we have to assess the two star RBs above, both juniors.
Keyes has better numbers than Simpson, but Purdue dropped its regular-season finale to lose out on the Rose Bowl berth, and the Boilermakers finished 8-2 against the No. 15-ranked schedule. As for the Trojans, they finished 9-1 and atop the Associated Press poll, playing the No. 17-ranked schedule. This creates an interesting dilemma.
How much emphasis can we put on Simpson leading his team to a conference title with a big win over Beban and UCLA in the regular-season finale? How much emphasis can we put on Keyes failing to get Purdue to the same position? It’s a team sport, but these two guys were clearly men among boys in this context. Hammond cannot hold a candle to either RB, and we think Simpson was the real star here.
Congratulations to O.J. Simpson, the real Heisman Trophy winner from 1967.