Our second MNC Wednesday miniseries rolls on, as we look retroactively at Heisman Trophy winners in college football history—and whether or not they truly deserved the award. As a result, we have confirmed just 4 winners in the 18 seasons of analysis so far, and that tells us much about … well, many things. Maybe we are missing out on the “in the moment” element, but we’re also objective in that way.
By the way, here is the MNC analysis from this season, too, for context.
1974 Heisman Trophy winner: Archie Griffin, RB, Ohio State (original); Anthony Davis, RB, USC (revised)
Ohio State Buckeyes junior running back Archie Griffin won the vote at the time, and remember, we gave him our unofficial nod for 1973 already. This season, he posted 1,772 scrimmage yards and 12 TDs for the Buckeyes, as they won the B1G again and reached the Rose Bowl—although the SOS was middling this season (46th overall). That may leave the door open for others to sneak through it.
On that note, there are always other contenders to consider. Here’s our final list of fully vetted Heisman candidates, which in recent seasons has been very short and is so once again:
- Anthony Davis, RB, USC: 1,517 scrimmage yards and 16 total TDs against the No. 40 schedule
- Joe Washington, RB, Oklahoma: 1,392 scrimmage yards and 14 TDs against the No. 26 schedule
So, keep in mind that the Sooners were on probation in 1974, as we emphasized in our MNC analysis. That lends a shadow of doubt over the entire team, and while that probably is not fair to Washington, individually, it is what it is. You never know how a team gains by cheating, and as a result, all statistics are dubious in this sort of analysis.
Thus, it comes down to Davis and Griffin: the latter has the better stats, but the former may have had a bigger impact on the MNC chase. Remember this? A 17th TD for Davis, which is not reflected in official stats above, came on perhaps the biggest play of the season: his 100-yard kickoff return TD against Notre Dame. Davis almost single-handedly saved USC’s season and MNC hopes in this one game.
Because USC went on to win the consensus MNC, Davis’ efforts in the Notre Dame game stand out as the most significant of the year, and yes, that is some retrospective analysis which hurts Griffin—but the Trojans did play an overall better schedule than the Buckeyes, too, and Ohio State had a more balanced offense than USC did, in terms of depth and production. Therefore, we’re going with Davis here.
Congratulations to Anthony Davis, the real Heisman Trophy winner from 1974 … shockingly enough.