10 Biggest Heisman Losses of All Time

Since 1935, college football’s most prestigious award has been a hot topic. Throughout the years, there have been several instances where we are still not sure that voters got it right.

Who were these players? Who should have won the prize? Why did it happen?

Here’s a look at the 10 Greatest Heisman Gaps of All Time.

1956: Paul Hornung over Jim Brown

Why it happened: Great program, race

Vulgar: With all due respect to Golden Boy, Jim Brown should have won the Heisman. Paul Hornung was a great player for Notre Dame at the time, but the Irish finished 2-8. Brown, meanwhile, finished with 986 rush yards and 14 TDs in Syracuse. He finished fifth in the vote. Ernie Davis became the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy five years later.

1967: Gary Beban over O.J. Simpson

Why it happened: Class classification

Vulgar: Simpson had all the cards in Beban. He had the best stats, including 1,543 yards and 13 TDs. It won Beban a head start in the USC-UCLA confrontation signing game with a touchdown square for a 21-20 victory. Beban, however, was superior. Simpson had to wait until the next season to win the Trophy Heisman.

1980: George Rogers over Herschel Walker

Why it happened: Class classification

Vulgar: Going strictly by numbers, Rogers (1,781 yards, 14 TDs) may have the small end on Walker (1,616 yards, 15 TDs). But they believe Walker extended Rogers 219-168 to Georgia’s 13-10 victory over the Gamecocks, which then led the Bulldogs to the national championship. The debate is running in the South today, but the bottom line is Rogers was superior. Walker, first appearing, finished third behind Pittsburgh’s Hugh Green.

1990: Ty Detmer over Raghib Ismail

Why it happened: Statistics, bias against Notre Dame

Vulgar: Detmer had great stats (5,188 cuts, 41 TDs), but Ismail had a reputation as the game’s most exciting playmaker and averaged 21.8 yards per reception. Ismail finished second in the vote with 305 votes. Detmer finished third in the Heisman, who voted next season.

1992: Gino Torretta over Marshall Faulk

Why it happened: Great program against small program

Vulgar: Torretta ends up on many of those Heisman lists, but led the Hurricanes to an 11-0 record before losing to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Faulk, meanwhile, led the state of San Diego with 1,630 stairs and 15 TDs. Even Georgia’s Garrison Hearst (1,547 meters, 19 TDs), who finished third, had a decent argument.

2000: Chris Weinke over LaDainian Tomlinson

Why it happened: Preliminary study with quarterly analysis

Vulgar: Weinke led the nation in 4,167 yards, but was also 28 years old at the time. The state of Florida also lost 13-2 to Oklahoma and sophomore Josh Heupel in the BCS championship game. TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson, who finished with 2,158 wings and 22 TDs, finished fourth behind Purdue’s Drew Brees.

2003: Jason White for Larry Fitzgerald

Why it happened: Bias, statistics

Vulgar: White carried the monster numbers for Oklahoma with 3,846 passing yards and 40 TDs, but was eventually exposed to a 21-14 loss to LSU in the BCS championship game. Fitzgerald, meanwhile, finished with 92 receptions, 1,672 yards and 22 TDs for Pittsburgh. White won the Heisman by 128 votes.

2004: Matt Leinart over Adrian Peterson

Why it happened: Class classification

Vulgar: Leinart has a strong argument. He had 3,322 yards, 33 TDs and six interceptions, and USC led Oklahoma 55-19 in the orange bowl. Peterson, however, rushed for 1,925 yards and 15 TDs. He finished second in the poll in front of Jason White, who won the Heisman in 2002. USC’s Reggie Bush finished fifth.

2005: Reggie Bush over Vince Young

Why it happened: No. 1 team bias

Vulgar: Bush led the nation with 2,218 yards from the scandal and 18 TDs, while Young was responsible for 4,086 yards and 38 TDs for the Longhorns. Of course, Young took his revenge on the 41-38 win over the Trojans in the BCS championship game. Bush later left Heisman as a result of sanctions against the USC football program.

2009: Mark Ingram over Ndamukong Suh

Why it happened: No. 1 team bias

Vulgar: Ingram beat Stanford’s Toby Gerhart with 28 points for the prize, but that’s not even the talk we’re back for. Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh emerged as the most dominant college football player of that season. He even had a signature game with the hammer blow of Texas general Colt McCoy in the Big 12 championship game.


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