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The 4 Biggest Heisman Snubs in College Football History

Heisman snubs
© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Heisman Trophy, given to the nation’s most outstanding player, is the most prestigious award in college football. If you win the Heisman, your name will go down in history, but the voters don't always vote for the right player.

Here are the four biggest Heisman snubs in college football history. The snubs are in chronological order from when they were handed out.

1967 Heisman Trophy: Gary Beban Over OJ Simpson

Archie Griffin is the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy, but OJ Simpson should've won two before Griffin won his first. Simpson won the Heisman as a senior in 1968, rushing for 1,880 yards and 23 TDs. He was just as good in 1967, with 1,543 yards and 13 TDs. The Heisman winner in 1967 was UCLA quarterback Gary Beban, who threw for 1,359 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions while adding 11 scores on the ground.

OJ Simpson
© Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

USC would end up as the Pac-8 Conference champions that year because they beat UCLA in one of the most memorable games in college football history. Simpson's 64-yard touchdown run in the final minutes of the fourth quarter gave the Trojans a 21-20 victory over unbeaten No. 1 UCLA. During this time, it was highly unusual for underclassmen to win the Heisman, so Beban took home the award.

1975 Heisman Trophy: Archie Griffin Over Chuck Muncie

As stated earlier, Griffin is the only two-time Heisman winner, but while his 1974 Heisman was justified, his 1975 win was not. Griffin had 1,450 yards and 4 TDs which was 245 fewer yards and eight fewer TDs than the previous season.

Chuck Muncie
© Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cal’s Chuck Muncie ran for 1,460 yards and 13 scores for a Golden Bears team that would claim a share of the Pac-8 title. Although Griffin played for the team that would win the Rose Bowl, Muncie had a better season and was robbed of the hardware to prove it.

1990 Heisman Trophy: Ty Detmer Over Eric Bieniemy

BYU quarterback Ty Detmer and his coach LaVell Edwards were one of the first pioneers of the "Air-Raid" offense, and the sheer volume of Detmer's passing stats was likely the reason he won the Heisman in 1990, even though he threw 28 interceptions, including nine in the final two games of the regular season.

Eric Bieniemy
© RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy ran for 1,628 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. Bieniemy was the most electrifying player on a team that would win the national championship. Usually, that's all the criteria needed for winning the award, but he finished third in Heisman voting. This is another example of voters looking at raw numbers rather than how valuable a player is to their team.

2005 Heisman Trophy: Reggie Bush Over Vince Young

The USC Trojans were college football’s premier school throughout the 2000s. In 2005, as USC was vying for a third straight national title, Reggie Bush would win the Heisman trophy, with his teammate, 2004 Heisman winner Matt Leinart, finishing third. Second place was Texas quarterback Vince Young. I’m glad the NCAA gave Reggie his Heisman back, but the award should've been given to Young anyway.

Young finished the season with 3,026 passing yards and 26 passing touchdowns. He added 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, making him the first quarterback in college football history to have 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season.

Of course, Young would get his redemption in the 2005 National Championship Game, when he put together a game for the ages in perhaps the greatest college sporting event ever. Bush might have won the trophy for his many highlight-reel runs and big-time productivity, but Young's performance throughout the season and in the title game proved he was the best player in college football.



Great read!



Blasphemy 😉 Vince Young had a great year and did get his redemption, as you note — after Bush won the Heisman. Bush was far and away the most electric, dominant and outstanding player in college football in the early 2000s. He was even voted team MVP the year Leinert won the Heisman. Young was tremendous, but he was no Bush. I’m pretty sure the Heisman voters overwhelmingly picked Bush — not even close. Sorry, I respectfully disagree. That year doesn’t count as a snub.

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