Our second MNC Wednesday miniseries evaluates only Heisman Trophy history: In 40 seasons overall, we have confirmed just 14 winners—demonstrating that the voting process really came down to hype and shallow-thought 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 another Hypesman analysis on the house!
1996 Heisman Trophy winner: Danny Wuerffel, QB, Florida (original); Corey Dillon, RB, Washington (revised)
The Florida Gators went 11-1 against the No. 17 SOS on their way to the eventual voted MNC, led by quarterback Danny Wuerffel. He totaled 3,625 passing yards with 41 total touchdowns and 13 INTs, although his 170.4 QB rating was lower than his prior season’s effort. That mark was second best in the country, overall, behind BYU QB Steve Sarkisian.
But, of course, there are always other candidates to consider. As a result, this is our final list of properly vetted Heisman candidates for the 1996 Heisman Trophy, which is complicated and dense:
- Warrick Dunn, RB, Florida State: 1,545 total yards and 14 TDs (No. 13 SOS)
- Byron Hanspard, RB, Texas Tech: 2,192 total yards and 14 TDs (No. 30 SOS)
- Darnell Autry, RB, Northwestern: 1,664 total yards and 18 TDs (No. 45 SOS)
- Corey Dillon, RB, Washington: 2,185 total yards and 23 TDs (No. 12 SOS)
Dunn helped the Seminoles to an undefeated regular season as a senior against a slightly better schedule than the one Wuerffel faced. Meanwhile, Hanspard carried a team to a second-place finish in its Big XII division, even though the SOS is merely good. Last year’s winner, Autry, just doesn’t measure up to the other RBs in this discussion, despite another B1G title for his team.
As for Dillon, he goes to the top of the RB list based on output and SOS, not to mention his team’s second-place finish in the Pac-10, only 1 game behind undefeated, top-ranked Arizona State. Therefore, in our minds, this comes down to Wuerffel and Dillon: There’s only a one-game difference between the team performance, and we can attribute that to the tougher SOS for the Huskies.
What about teammates? The Gators had three skill-position players with over 900 yards from scrimmage, which provided a nice balance for Wuerffel, although the team wasn’t very strong in the rushing category. However, that was more due to playcalling than anything else: Florida still averaged 4.6 ypc on about 37 carries per contest, so the Gators were loaded with playmakers.
As for Washington, Dillon was the only person on the Huskies to gain more than 620 yards from scrimmage, and his QBs posted ratings in the 120s while barely completing 50 percent of their passes. What we see here is that Dillon was a lot more integral to his team’s success than Wuerffel was to his team’s success. The UW RB is by far the superior player here in comparison.
Congratulations to Corey Dillon, the real Heisman Trophy winner from 1996.