MNC Wednesday has been taking on the Heisman Trophy voting history in this second miniseries, and what we have discovered is pretty shocking. In 19 seasons (as we started in 1956 when statistics were somewhat readily available), we have confirmed just 4 winners—demonstrating that a lot of the voting process really has come down to hype and not much common sense or objective analysis.
By the way, here is the MNC analysis from this season, too, for context.
1975 Heisman Trophy winner: Archie Griffin, RB, Ohio State (original); Chuck Muncie, RB, California (revised)
Ohio State Buckeyes running back Archie Griffin won his second straight Heisman vote as his team posted a perfect regular-season record against the No. 27-ranked schedule in the nation. He posted 1,620 scrimmage yards and 4 touchdowns, as generally this was the worst of his three seasons as a starter in Columbus. We gave him the Heisman in 1973, although we took it away from him last year.
On that note, there are always other contenders to consider—and there were some great RBs in this bunch we had to exclude because their teams just weren’t good enough (too many losses, etc.). Here’s our final list of fully vetted Heisman candidates:
- Chuck Muncie, RB, California: 1,995 total yards and 17 total TDs against 34th-ranked SOS
- Gordon Bell, RB, Michigan: 1,485 total yards and 15 total yards against 21st-ranked SOS
USC RB Ricky Bell topped 2,000 scrimmage yards, but he did so for a 7-4 team that didn’t contend in the Pac-8 Conference. Oklahoma RB Joe Washington, one of our final contenders in 1974, had a down season (927 yards and no TDs), so even though he got a lot of Heisman—er, Hypesman—support, we didn’t include him here, even though his team went undefeated.
Now, we picked Muncie and Griffin in our conference-MVP miniseries, but Michigan’s Bell is an interesting case: He was arguably better than Griffin, even though both players had a lot of team support, including backfield mates who complemented their skill sets quite impressively (Pete Johnson for Ohio State and Rob Lytle for Michigan).
Either way, we see Griffin having too much support here, and his stats are underwhelming next to Muncie’s numbers. Who did Muncie have supporting him at Cal? He was more than 1,000 scrimmage yards ahead of the next guy on his team (wide receiver Wesley Walker). The Golden Bears’ only conference loss was to league champion UCLA, and Muncie’s statistics are incredible.
Cal’s SOS was a little bit behind Ohio State’s SOS, but the Buckeyes were an All-Star team, of course, The Golden Bears roster was not full of the same level of talent. So for Muncie to carry his team to within one game of the Rose Bowl was an incredible feat. We look at the vote totals, and it’s clear that unless Griffin really stunk, voters were just going to reward him again. He was not twice as good as Muncie.
Yet, that’s what the voters suggested as Griffin totaled 1,800 points to Muncie’s 730 points. Muncie was more valuable as well as the better player, combining running and receiving most effectively for a team that leaned on him the whole way. Griffin always got to share the load in Columbus. Muncie had no such luxury in Berkeley. That’s why he is our pick here.
Congratulations to Chuck Muncie, the real Heisman Trophy winner from 1975 … for reals.