We’re back after a short break on MNC Wednesday to continue taking on the Heisman Trophy voting history, and what we have discovered is pretty crazy. In 23 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.
By the way, here is our MNC analysis from this season, too, for context.
1979 Heisman Trophy winner: Charles White, RB, USC (original, confirmed)
We picked him last year for this award, but this season, so did the voters: USC Trojans running back Charles White posted 2,195 scrimmage yards and 19 touchdowns, and he averaged 6.2 yards per carry on the ground against the No. 13 schedule in the country as the Trojans posted a 10-0-1 regular season record and went to yet another Rose Bowl. It’s going to be a hard season for anyone else to top.
As usual, there are other contenders to consider. This is our final list of fully vetted Heisman candidates, and as quite often is the case, it’s a short list:
- Billy Sims, RB, Oklahoma: 1,548 scrimmage yards and 22 TDs (against No. 46 SOS)
- Art Schlichter, QB, Ohio State: 2,246 total yards with 23 TDs and 6 INTs (against No. 33 SOS)
Sims won the vote in 1978, although he probably should not have. The Sooners were a great team in 1979, winning the Big 8 and the Orange Bowl to finish No. 3, but his stats don’t hold a candle to White’s in terms of SOS, etc. Meanwhile, Schlichter led the Buckeyes to the No. 1 ranking at the end of the regular season with a strong season that included a 145.9 QB rating.
He was a unique QB threat for the time period, throwing for 1,816 yards and running for another 430 yards (which factors in sack yardage, of course). But in his stat profile, the SOS is still way weaker than that facing White with the Trojans. Overall, this really is an easy award to confirm, as a result. This makes three USC RBs to win our Heisman twice (O.J. Simpson: 1967, 1968; Anthony Davis: 1972, 1974).
Congratulations to Charles White, the legitimate Heisman Trophy winner from 1979.