For the second season in a row, there was a split “national championship” in college football, but this MNC Wednesday miniseries evaluates only Heisman Trophy history: In 35 seasons overall now, we have confirmed just 12 winners—demonstrating that a lot of the voting process really came down to hype and mediots voting ignorantly. What will happen here?
1991 Heisman Trophy winner: Desmond Howard, WR/PR/KR, Michigan (original, confirmed)
Recently, we took away the Super Bowl MVP from Desmond Howard; will we revise his Heisman win, too? In this episode of football life, he was a wide receiver/returner for the Michigan Wolverines: Howard posted 1,859 total yards and scored 23 touchdowns. His team went 10-1 to win the B1G and earn a Rose Bowl berth, and they did it against the No. 4 schedule in the nation. That will be a tough season to beat!
Of course, there are always other candidates to consider. As a result, this is our final list of properly vetted Heisman candidates for the 1991 Heisman Trophy, which is not very long at all, in truth:
- Terrell Buckley, CB/KR, Florida State: 692 return yards, 12 INTs, 2 TDs (No. 22 SOS)
- Ty Detmer, QB, BYU: 4,031 passing yards, 39 total TDs, 12 INTs (No. 48 SOS)
- Elvis Grbac, QB, Michigan: 2,085 passing yards, 25 total TDs, 6 INTs
Detmer (168.5) and Grbac (161.7) were the only QBs to post 160-plus efficiency ratings, but it’s clear that Howard was making Grbac look good with his receiving skills (985 receiving yards, 19 TD receptions). Grbac evidently couldn’t throw to anyone else, so we can’t cancel them out as teammates. We drop the Michigan QB from consideration, as this is that rare case where the WR made the QB.
As for Buckley, it’s hard to measure his impact: Just for comparison, Howard managed 684 kick/punt return yards, and Buckley had 454 kick/punt return yards. His other stats came from INT returns. The INT total is very impressive, considering no one should have been throwing his way. The SOS is pretty good, too, and overall, the Seminoles went 10-2 with very narrow losses against Top 5 teams.
Strangely, Detmer was better in 1989 and 1991 than he was in 1990 when he won the vote. That shows you how dumb the voters were, really. But his SOS—and even that of Buckley—really cannot match the Michigan SOS, and this becomes a pretty simple exercise to put the stamp of confirmation on Howard’s vote win. He was very good on a very good team against a great schedule. Case closed.
Congratulations to Desmond Howard, the legitimate Heisman Trophy winner from 1991.