It it time for MNC Wednesday again, taking on the Heisman Trophy voting history, and what we have discovered is pretty shocking. In 22 seasons (as we started in 1956 when statistics were somewhat readily available), we have confirmed just 6 winners—demonstrating that a lot of the voting process really came down to hype and not much common sense or objective analysis. Hence, the “Hypesman” slang!
By the way, here is our MNC analysis from this season, too, for context.
1978 Heisman Trophy winner: Billy Sims, RB, Oklahoma (original); Charles White, RB, USC (revised)
The Oklahoma Sooners posted a 10-1 regular season record, “tying” for the Big 8 Conference title, suffering a road loss to main rival Nebraska. Star running back Billy Sims led the way with 1,797 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns against the No. 22-ranked schedule in the nation. He averaged an incredible 7.6 yards per carry, too, after gaining just 552 yards in his first three collegiate seasons.
As usual, there are other contenders to consider. This is our final list of fully vetted Heisman candidates:
- Rick Leach, QB, Michigan: 1,894 total yards with 29 TDs and 6 INTs for a 145.5 QB rating
- Charles White, RB, USC: 2,052 scrimmage yards and 14 TDs
- Steve Fuller, QB, Clemson: 2,164 total yards with with 17 TDs and 4 INTs for a 130.1 QB rating
Leach was very good in leading the Wolverines to a share of the B1G title, but Michigan faced just the 40th-hardest schedule in the nation. That’s not as impressive as what Sims did. Meanwhile, White led USC to the Rose Bowl, despite playing the No. 2-ranked schedule in the country. That’s probably more impressive than what Sims did, and the Trojans didn’t lose to their biggest rivals, either.
Meanwhile, Fuller led the Tigers to the ACC title and a 10-1 regular-season record, but the stats can’t measure up to Leach’s effort, and Clemson played a mediocre schedule, too (ranked 65th). So, in the end, this comes down to Sims and White, and we see the Trojans’ SOS here as being the deciding factor. White should have won this Heisman, and instead he finished fourth in the voting for some reason.
Obviously, Sims was amazing, but the SOS is huge, and we also have to consider the fact that the Trojans were a team that beat the eventual No. 1-ranked team in the country (Alabama) on the road. White is a huge factor in that reality, while Sims couldn’t get his team past Nebraska in the regular season with the potential MNC on the line (even if the Sooners did beat the Cornhuskers in a bowl rematch).
Congratulations to Charles White, the real Heisman Trophy winner from 1978.
Make sure to check back every Wednesday on the Daily McPlay for the next entry in our Heisman analysis!