Welcome to another Wednesday, and that means it is MNC Wednesdays time, as we go back to look at Heisman Trophy winners in the past—and whether or not they truly deserved the award. We have confirmed just 4 winners in the 13 seasons of analysis so far, and that tells us much 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.
1969 Heisman Trophy winner: Steve Owens, RB, Oklahoma (original); Clarence Davis, RB, USC (revised)
The Oklahoma Sooners posted just a 6-4 record against the No. 6 schedule in the nation, and their star running back, Steve Owens, won a relatively close Heisman vote on the basis of 1,555 scrimmage yards and 23 touchdowns. His statistics were basically the same as the year before (1,630 scrimmage yards and 21 TDs), when he did not make the Top 10 voting for the award, which makes us wonder … why?
Of course, there are other contenders to consider. Here’s our final list of fully vetted Heisman candidates:
- Jim Plunkett, QB, Stanford: 2,786 total yards with 21 total TDs and 15 INTs
- Dennis Dummit, QB, UCLA: 1,992 total yards with 21 total TDs and 10 INTs
- Clarence Davis, RB, USC: 1,377 scrimmage yards and 9 TDs
- Carlos Alvarez, WR, Florida: 88 receptions for 1,329 yards and 12 TDs
The Indians posted a 7-2-1 mark against the 21st-hardest schedule, while Plunkett’s 136.2 QB efficiency rating was the sixth-best in the nation. But the best QB in the Pac-8 was actually UCLA’s Dummit (148.3 rating, best among power-conference QBs), although his 8-1-1 Bruins only played a Top 45 schedule. The two teams tied, which leaves us with a bit of a conundrum there.
As for Davis, he led the Trojans to a 9-0-1 mark with a spot in the Rose Bowl, and he was more effective on the ground, in terms of a per-carry average, than Owens was for his 6-4 team. The Trojans also played a Top 8 schedule themselves. Owens has the volume edge here, but that’s about it. Who cares if you’re padding your stats on a middling team? Davis carried his offense to a Rose Bowl berth.
Meanwhile, the Gators posted an 8-1-1 mark against the 32nd-toughest schedule, so Alvarez got his team places, albeit against weaker competition than either RB faced. So we start, then, by picking one of the QBs, and we go with Dummit for the higher efficiency rating and the better team, overall, that he was leading. We think Davis is superior to Owens, for obvious reasons stated above.
That leaves us with disassociated triplets: Davis has the SOS edge, by far, but how did this trio fare with their support crews? UCLA did not have a skill player gain over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, but the Bruins did have four players with at least 665 yards. That’s a lot of weapons for Dummit, but he still couldn’t beat USC with Davis, its two mediocre QBs, and no other player within 900 yards of Davis.
What about Alvarez, then? Florida had both a solid QB (almost 2,900 yards passing and 25 total TDs with a 127.9 rating) and a solid RB (over 1,060 scrimmage yards). The combo of leadership and SOS here leaves us with no other choice than to crown another USC RB here for the Heisman … the third in a row, and to a player who we think should have been a Super Bowl MVP, too. Tailback U., for sure.
Considering Davis did not finish in the Top 10 of the Heisman voting, this is a shameful oversight that we’re righting 50-plus years later. Maybe USC’s defense was the dominant dynamic of its 10-0-1 team that won our MNC nod, but this team would have gone nowhere without Davis—and the Trojans didn’t even have to overuse him. Maybe they should have run up his statistics, though, to impress voters?!
Congratulations to Clarence Davis, the real Heisman Trophy winner from 1969.