We have reached another landmark season on MNC Wednesday today, as we continue assessing Heisman Trophy history: In 28 seasons (as we started in 1956 when statistics were somewhat readily available), we have confirmed just 9 winners—demonstrating that a lot of the voting process really came down to hype and not much common sense or objective analysis. They call it the “Hypesman” after all …

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

1984 Heisman Trophy winner: Doug Flutie, QB, Boston College (original, confirmed)

It is quite possible that one play won the Heisman for Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie: a Hail Mary touchdown pass on the final play of the Eagles’ game against the defending mythical national champions from Miami-FL. Contemporary accounts labeled Flutie as “the most exciting player” in the game before the contest that was aired on national, prime-time television, so … maybe it was fate?

Flutie’s numbers: 3,833 total yards for 30 TDs and 11 INTs with a 152.9 QB efficiency rating. That’s a great season, although nothing specifically jumps off the page at you. As an independent, BC played the No. 34 schedule during the season, so it wasn’t a cupcake walk, but it wasn’t a gauntlet, either. Maybe it was just right for the moment, however.

Yet you know how this works; there are other candidates to consider here. This is our final list of fully vetted Heisman candidates for the 1984 Heisman Trophy, which is not long:

  • Keith Byars, RB, Ohio State: 2,441 total yards and 24 TDs against the No. 56 schedule
  • Robbie Bosco, QB, BYU: 3,932 total yards with 35 TDs, 11 INTs, and a 151.8 QB rating (No. 82 SOS)

That’s about it. Byars had an incredibly strong season for the Buckeyes, who won the B1G and advanced to the Rose Bowl, albeit against a very middling schedule. Bosco’s numbers aren’t appreciably better than Flutie’s stats, though, despite the very weak schedule the Cougars played—which already cost them the MNC in our minds (and changed the course of college football going forward, too).

The SOS comes into play here, as Flutie obviously played a better schedule than the B1G champs did. He was second in the country in passing efficiency, and the signature play/win against the Hurricanes probably won him the Heisman over Byars, who finished second in the voting without such a “moment” on national TV. Ohio State concluded its regular season on November 17, a week before the Hail Mary.

Flutie then had another regular-season game against weakling Holy Cross on December 1 to augment his candidacy, with Byars’ efforts fading from memory in the kind of “what have you done lately” mentality that sadly affects voters with short-term memories. This is not to say Flutie doesn’t deserve this; he does, based on output and SOS. But this was the beginning of that voter mentality, for sure.

Congratulations to Doug Flutie, the legitimate Heisman Trophy winner from 1984.