We continue gliding through the 1980s on MNC Wednesday today, as we keep re-evaluating Heisman Trophy history: In 30 seasons, we have confirmed just 10 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 … so, it’s clear why, at this point, because the award was so often given wrongly. But we never expected such a low confirmation rate, in truth. Nuts!
1986 Heisman Trophy winner: Vinny Testaverde, QB, Miami-FL (original, confirmed)
On their way to the de facto MNC title game, the Miami-FL Hurricanes relied a lot on quarterback Vinny Testaverde, and he won the Heisman vote over a field of underwhelming candidates. Playing against the No. 23 schedule in the nation, Testaverde threw for 2,557 yards (almost 700 less than his 1985 total, however), while putting together 30 total touchdowns and throwing only 9 interceptions. His 165.8 QB efficiency rating was a very good number—and the tops in the country.
By now, you know how this works; there are always other candidates to consider here. This is our final list of fully vetted Heisman candidates for the 1986 Heisman Trophy, which is long but relatively undistinguished:
- Jim Harbaugh, QB, Michigan: 2,847 total yards with 18 total TDs and 11 INTs (No. 17 SOS)
- Paul Palmer, RB, Temple: 2,666 total yards for 16 total TDs (No. 33 SOS)
- Bobby Humphrey, RB, Alabama: 2,016 total yards for 17 total TDs (No. 12 SOS)
- Gaston Green, RB, UCLA: 1,475 total yards for 17 TDs (No. 5 SOS)
- Brent Fullwood, RB, Auburn: 1,543 total yards for 11 total TDs (No. 61 SOS)
- Brad Muster, RB, Stanford: 1,759 total yards for 16 total TDs (No. 6 SOS)
Harbaugh won our nod here last year, but his numbers are a mixed bag this time around as he actually threw more INTs than TDs (10). But he did get his team to the Rose Bowl, and his QB rating was second in the nation behind Testaverde. Yet we don’t see his season as being better than Testaverde’s year, especially since Michigan lost a home game to Minnesota … and the Hurricanes went undefeated in the regular season.
Now, for the running backs: The Owls went just 6-5 under Head Coach Bruce Arians—yes, that Bruce Arians. Also, Palmer was later revealed as having signed with an agent before the season. Humphrey has the most impressive season, otherwise, with a lot of yards against a tough schedule. The Crimson Tide posted a 9-3 regular-season mark, on its way to a second-place SEC finish. But that still can’t match Testaverde’s double double: topping the nation in QB rating and leading the team to an undefeated season.
All the other RBs come up short for one reason or another, but we wanted to emphasize that the field was less-than-stellar in 1986. Testaverde was good, but he may have been better in 1985, oddly. But sometimes, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, and we’re confirming his vote win here.
Congratulations to Vinny Testaverde, the legitimate Heisman Trophy winner from 1986.