Our wonderful second MNC Wednesday miniseries evaluates only Heisman Trophy history: In 37 seasons overall, we have confirmed just 13 winners—demonstrating that a lot of the voting process really came down to hype and ignorant voting. We’re trying to correct that (post de facto, of course), as we have done with all sports, really, over the past 2.5 years running now. Enjoy!
1993 Heisman Trophy winner: Charlie Ward, QB, Florida State (original, confirmed)
Remember when the voted Heisman winner spurned the NFL and played in the NBA instead? We do! Oh, how times have changed … regardless, Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward won the Heisman vote, in leading his team to a one-loss regular season and a berth in the Orange Bowl on the way to a voted national championship that we revised. What a fun season to review!
Either way, Ward’s numbers came against the No. 21 schedule: a 157.8 QB rating, bolstered by 3,381 total yards with 31 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. Off topic, did you know that Ward served as FSU’s punter during his freshman season in 1989? We’d forgotten ourselves, as he averaged just 37.1 yards per punt while going 0-for-5 with an INT as a backup QB. Fun facts for the day!
Regardless of Ward’s incredible athleticism that translated just fine to the NBA, there are always other candidates to consider. As a result, this is our final list of properly vetted Heisman candidates for the 1993 Heisman Trophy, which is a bit odd, if not outright eclectic:
- J.J. Stokes, WR, UCLA: 1,181 receiving yards and 17 TDs (No. 3 SOS)
- Johnnie Morton, WR, USC: 1,520 receiving yards and 14 TDs (No. 6 SOS)
- Brent Moss, RB, Wisconsin: 1,661 scrimmage yards and 16 TDs (No. 32 SOS)
- Errict Rhett, RB, Florida: 1,560 scrimmage yards and 11 TDs (No. 25 SOS)
We don’t often see wide receivers here, but Stokes carried a moribund Bruins offense to a Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl berth, without a QB of decent repute or a running back shouldering the load. That’s impressive, even if Stokes did punk out his senior season (1994) in order to preserve his NFL Draft status. He was seventh in the Heisman vote, too.
Ironic, then, to see Morton on our list, as his numbers were somewhat better than Stokes’ stats, for the Trojans tied the Bruins for the Pac-10 lead at 6-2 in conference play (but lost the head-to-head matchup and the Rose Bowl berth). Morton had a better supporting cast and lesser overall team success, so that means we can keep Stokes safely as our top challenger to Ward here.
Moss was the first in what has been a long line of dominant Badgers running backs, and he led Wisconsin to the B1G title and the Rose Bowl bid. The schedule strength isn’t stellar, but it’s still in the “good” category here—albeit less than both Stokes and Ward. Yet Moss had a lot of help in Madison, too, with a solid QB and a fellow RB who topped 1,100 scrimmage yards and double-digit TDs, as well. Hmm.
Likewise, Rhett played with two solid QBs—including a future Heisman vote winner—although he was the primary running back, by far, on the roster of a team that won the SEC and advanced to the Sugar Bowl. The SOS is comparable to Ward’s pathway, but it falls short of the load-carrying burden that Stokes had in his back at UCLA. We never thought we’d utter that sentence, for sure.
To us, this comes down Ward, Stokes, and Rhett, but we know Stokes’ singular effort tops that of Rhett. What about Ward’s supporting cast? He had no 1,000-yard rusher, no 1,000-yard receiver, and only one 1,000-yard scrimmage guy—who managed just 1,009 yards at that. So, Ward was the maestro of the top-scoring offense in the country, without any star help around him, really.
Shouldering loads is the key here, and Ward did a better job at it than Stokes, in terms of team performance, although that has something to do with the position. If Stokes had gained at least 1,500 yards through the air, we might be re-thinking this considering the SOS. But in the end, Ward will keep his Heisman because he put his team in a better national position, although this may be positional bias.
Congratulations to Charlie Ward, the legitimate Heisman Trophy winner from 1993.