MNC Wednesday has been taking on the Heisman Trophy voting history in this second miniseries, and what we have discovered is pretty shocking. In 20 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.

1976 Heisman Trophy winner: Tony Dorsett, RB, Pittsburgh (original, confirmed)

The Pittsburgh Panthers won the MNC vote at the time, led by their Heisman-winning running back Tony Dorsett (2,217 scrimmage yards and 23 touchdowns). But the Panthers’ SOS was barely above average, at best (rated 56th of 137). This waters down what Dorsett accomplished a little bit, and it could leave the door open a crack for another candidate to sneak through.

On that note, there are always other contenders to consider. Here’s our final list of fully vetted Heisman candidates:

So, all three teams were positioned to win the MNC, based on bowl performances yet to come. We see Bell’s season as being better than Lytle’s season, mostly because of the SOS rating. It’s irrelevant here that the Trojans beat the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl, but it does reinforce the point that Bell was a more-valuable player during this season than Lytle.

Is Dorsett’s big statistical edge over Bell due to the weak(er) SOS? Partially, yes. Pitt played just three ranked teams during the year, and none of its opponents finished higher than No. 10 in the country. Meanwhile, USC played a better slate of opponents, including Michigan, which finished No. 3 in the nation after the bowl games.

Yet, overall, we know Dorsett’s team was not as good as Bell’s, and not only was Dorsett’s usage rate higher—he touched the ball 84 more times than Bell did—his per-touch average was higher, too. What we have here is a player who was needed more, played at a higher level more often, etc., even if the competition was weaker. That 699-yard edge in the statistics is just too hard to ignore.

Congratulations to Tony Dorsett, the legit Heisman Trophy winner from 1976 … for reals.

Make sure to check back every Wednesday on the Daily McPlay for the next entry in our Heisman analysis!