It’s time for 1982 on MNC Wednesday this week, as we continue assessing Heisman Trophy history: In 26 seasons (as we started in 1956 when statistics were somewhat readily available), we have confirmed just 8 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” moniker … you betcha!

By the way, here is our MNC analysis from this season, too, for context.

1982 Heisman Trophy winner: Herschel Walker, RB, Georgia (original); Tom Ramsey, QB, UCLA (revised)

Georgia Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker won the Heisman vote, after finishing third in 1980 and second in 1981—showing the natural progression of voter thought processes of the time. Walker led his team to an undefeated regular season while compiling 1,841 yards and 17 touchdowns against a Top 30 schedule, statistics that were a little lesser than his 1981 efforts (1,975 yards and 20 TDs).

Uniquely, there are many other candidates to consider here. This is our final list of fully vetted Heisman candidates for the 1982 Heisman Trophy, which includes some very interesting names:

  • Eric Dickerson, RB, SMU: 1,677 total yards and 17 TDs (No. 73 SOS)
  • Tim Spencer, RB, Ohio State: 1,822 total yards and 15 TDs (No. 34 SOS)
  • Mike Rozier, RB, Nebraska: 1,790 total yards and 17 TDs (No. 38 SOS)
  • Tom Ramsey, QB, UCLA: 3,124 total yards with 28 TDs and 10 INTs (No. 8 SOS)
  • Alan Risher, QB, LSU: 2,036 total yards with 21 TDs and 8 INTs (No. 37 SOS)
  • Todd Blackledge, QB, Penn State: 2,218 total yards with 25 TDs and 14 INTs (No. 3 SOS)
  • Henry Ellard, WR, Fresno State: 1,653 total yards and 15 TDs (No. 99 SOS)

Okay, so clearly Dickerson and Ellard are out, because of those weak SOS ratings, and we also don’t have to deal with the eligibility questions for Dickerson as a result, either. That leaves us with three RBs and three QBs, which is a big pool of candidates! Walker does have the best numbers against the best SOS of the first grouping, so he advances to the finals against whichever QB we deduce is best here.

And that debate comes down to Ramsey and Blackledge, both of whom played excellent schedules and thrived. The key to us here, though, is that Ramsey led the NCAA in QB efficiency rating (151.5, 1st) while Blackledge was way down the list (134.2, 10th). For Ramsey to lead the country while playing that schedule is very impressive, and the Bruins reached the Rose Bowl as well. That’s just a stellar year.

Thus, it’s Ramsey versus Walker: The SOS edge for Ramsey is ginormous, of course, with Georgia’s specific SOS coming in at 28th. Walker did not lead the nation in rushing yards or scrimmage yards, either; that honor went to Oklahoma State RB Ernest Anderson. We like the fact Ramsey topped the nation in passing efficiency while playing a Top 10 schedule and still getting his team to the Rose.

Yes, Walker got his team to the Sugar, too, and expectations were probably greater for the Bulldogs than the Bruins. But that is psychological; what we have to deal with here is the on-the-field data. It seems to weird that Walker would not win this, but Ramsey’s excellent season against a much better slate of opponents is what is the deciding factor. Who would have thunk it?!

Congratulations to Tom Ramsey, the real Heisman Trophy winner from 1982.