John Shearer: The Heisman By The Numbers

Saturday, January 7, 2012 - by John Shearer

While watching the nighttime Valero Alamo Bowl game between Baylor and Washington on Dec. 29 and before dozing off despite the bowl record 123 total points scored, I started pondering some historical facts about the Heisman Trophy.

During the times I was able to make out Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III’s jersey number of 10 before he made some dazzling and blurring runs and passes in leading Baylor to victory, I began wondering how many other Heisman winners had worn that number. I could not recall any off hand.

And since Baylor was behind at the half when I went to bed, I also started wondering if the Heisman Trophy winner’s team has lost its bowl game more than it has won. Thinking back to Georgia’s loss in the Sugar Bowl after Herschel Walker’s Heisman accomplishment in 1982 and a couple of Miami bowl losses during Heisman-winning years, I assumed winning the trophy put kind of an extra crutch on the team.

Those two questions were still in my mind the next day, so I began searching an ESPN college football encyclopedia I own as well as the Internet over the next few days and I eventually had every one of my questions answered. In fact, I have not felt so satisfied and relieved after dealing with numbers since I finished the math section of the SAT test back in high school.

For the record, Heisman Trophy winners - including Robert Griffin, who had seriously considered attending Tennessee back when Phil Fulmer was the coach - have now led their teams to 26 victories in bowl games. And amazingly, the winners have also led their squads to 26 losses as well in the 77 years the prestigious trophy for the best college football player in America has been given.

And 25 times – mostly in the early years – the winner’s team has not played in the bowl games. Fewer bowl games formerly existed in those days, and Notre Dame and Army – who produced a number of early winners -- did not participate in bowl games for years.

The last time a Heisman winner’s team did not participate in a bowl was in 1989, when Houston’s Andre Ware won.

Chronicling the jersey numbers was the most fun part of the experience. Luckily, I found a site that had photographs of the players in college. And for those early ones shown with no numbers, the College Football Hall of Fame website was helpful.

It turned out I was wrong about Griffin III being the only one who wore No. 10. 2006 winner Troy Smith of Ohio State also wore it, but those were the only two.

Two jersey numbers – 14 and 20 – have the distinction of being worn by five different trophy-winning players, the most of any jersey numbers, while Nos. 7, 11, and 22 have been worn by four different players each.

Nos. 16, 21, 33, 34, and 35 have been worn by Heisman winners three times each, while Nos. 2, 5,12, 19, 24, 27, 32 and 44 have been worn twice.

Some 22 players, including two-time winner Archie Griffin (No. 45), have been the only winners to wear their numbers.

Jersey numbers that have never been worn by a Heisman winner to date include 1, 4, 6, 9, 23, 25, 26, 28, 29, 39, 43, 46, 47, and 49. Others are all the numbers in the 50s, 60s and 70s except for 54, and all but 81 and 82 in the 80s. And in the 90s, the only jersey numbers worn by Heisman winners were 98 and 99.

Several players wore different college numbers from what they wore in the pros.

For those who cannot get enough college football with the season finally winding down following Monday’s Alabama-LSU matchup in the national championship game, here is a rundown of all the winners, their jersey numbers and the team’s results in their bowls.

See if you can find the one bowl in which Tennessee – which had no Heisman winners but several runner-ups – beat a team featuring a trophy winner.
1935 – Jay Berwanger, Chicago (jersey No. 99), no bowl: 1936 – Larry Kelly, Yale (No. 19), no bowl; 1937 – Clint Frank, Yale (No. 14), no bowl; 1938 – Davey O’Brien, TCU (No. 8), beat Carnegie-Mellon, 15-7, in the Sugar Bowl; 1939 – Nile Kinnick, Iowa (No. 24), no bowl.
1940 – Tom Harmon, Michigan (No. 98), no bowl; 1941 – Bruce Smith, Minnesota (No. 54), no bowl; 1942 – Frank Sinkwich, Georgia (No. 21), beat UCLA, 9-0, in the Rose Bowl; 1943 – Angelo Bertelli, Notre Dame (No. 48), no bowl; 1944 – Les Horvath, Ohio State (No. 22), no bowl.
1945 – Doc Blanchard, Army (No. 35), no bowl; 1946 – Glenn Davis, Army (No. 41), no bowl; 1947 – John Lujack, Notre Dame (No. 32), no bowl; 1948 – Doak Walker, SMU (No. 37), beat Oregon, 21-13, in the Cotton Bowl; 1949 – Leon Hart, Notre Dame (No. 82), no bowl.
1950 – Vic Janowicz, Ohio State (No. 31), no bowl; 1951 – Dick Kazmaier, Princeton (No. 42), no bowl; 1952 – Billy Vessels, Oklahoma (No. 35), no bowl; 1953 – Johnny Lattner, Notre Dame (No. 14), no bowl; 1954 – Alan Ameche, Wisconsin (No. 35), no bowl.
1955 – Howard Cassady, Ohio State (No. 40), no bowl; 1956 – Paul Hornung, Notre Dame (No. 5), no bowl; 1957 – John David Crow, Texas A&M (No. 44), beat Southern Miss, 10-9, in the Tangerine Bowl; 1958 – Pete Dawkins, Army (No. 24), no bowl; 1959 – Billy Cannon, LSU (No. 20), lost to Ole Miss, 21-0, in the Sugar Bowl.
1960 – Joe Bellino, Navy (No. 27), lost to Missouri, 21-14, in the Orange Bowl; 1961 – Ernie Davis, Syracuse (No. 44), beat Miami, 15-14, in the Liberty Bowl; 1962 – Terry Baker, Oregon State (No. 11), beat Villanova, 6-0, in the Liberty Bowl; 1963 – Roger Staubach, Navy (No. 12), lost to Texas, 28-6, in the Cotton Bowl; 1964 – John Huarte, Notre Dame (No. 7), no bowl.
1965 – Mike Garrett, USC (No. 20), no bowl; 1966 – Steve Spurrier, Florida (No. 11), beat Georgia Tech, 27-12, in the Orange Bowl; 1967 – Gary Beban, UCLA (No. 16), no bowl; 1968 – O.J. Simpson, Southern Cal (No. 32); lost to Ohio State, 27-16, in the Rose Bowl; 1969 – Steve Owens, Oklahoma (No. 36); no bowl.
1970 – Jim Plunkett, Stanford (No. 16), beat Ohio State, 27-17, in the Rose Bowl; 1971 – Pat Sullivan, Auburn (No. 7), lost to Oklahoma, 40-22, in the Orange Bowl; 1972 – Johnny Rodgers, Nebraska (No. 20), beat Notre Dame, 40-6, in the Orange Bowl; 1973 – John Cappelletti, Penn State (No. 22), beat LSU, 16-9, in the Orange Bowl; 1974 – Archie Griffin, Ohio State (No. 45), lost to Southern Cal, 18-17, in the Rose Bowl.
1975 – Archie Griffin, Ohio State (No. 45), lost to UCLA, 23-10, in the Rose Bowl; 1976 – Tony Dorsett, Pittsburgh (No. 33), beat Georgia, 27-3, in the Sugar Bowl; 1977 – Earl Campbell, Texas (No. 20), lost to Notre Dame, 38-10, in the Cotton Bowl; 1978 – Billy Sims, Oklahoma (No. 20), beat Nebraska, 31-24, in the Orange Bowl; 1979 – Charles White, Southern Cal (No. 12), beat Ohio State, 17-16, in the Rose Bowl.
1980 – George Rogers, South Carolina (No. 38), lost to Pittsburgh, 37-9, in the Gator Bowl; 1981 – Marcus Allen, Southern Cal (No. 33), lost to Penn State, 26-10, in the Fiesta Bowl; 1982 – Herschel Walker, Georgia (No. 34), lost to Penn State, 27-23, in the Sugar Bowl; 1983 – Mike Rozier, Nebraska (No. 30), lost to Miami, 31-30, in the Orange Bowl; 1984 – Doug Flutie, Boston College (No. 22), beat Houston, 45-28, in the Cotton Bowl.
1985 – Bo Jackson, Auburn (No. 34), lost to Texas A&M, 36-16, in the Cotton Bowl; 1986 – Vinny Testaverde, Miami (No. 14), lost to Penn State, 14-10, in the Fiesta Bowl; 1987 – Tim Brown, Notre Dame (No. 81), lost to Texas A&M, 35-10, in the Cotton Bowl; 1988 – Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State (No. 21), beat Wyoming, 62-14, in the Holiday Bowl; 1989 – Andre Ware, Houston (No. 11), no bowl.
1990 – Ty Detmer, BYU (No. 14), lost to Texas A&M, 65-14, in the Holiday Bowl; 1991 – Desmond Howard, Michigan (No. 21), lost to Washington, 34-14, in the Rose Bowl; 1992 – Gino Torretta, Miami (No. 13), lost to Alabama, 34-13, in the Sugar Bowl; 1993 – Charlie Ward, Florida State (No. 17), beat Nebraska, 18-16, in the Orange Bowl; 1994 – Rashaan Salaam, Colorado (No. 19), beat Notre Dame, 41-24, in the Fiesta Bowl.
1995 – Eddie George, Ohio State (No. 27), lost to Tennessee, 20-14, in the Citrus Bowl; 1996 – Danny Wuerffel, Florida (No. 7), beat Florida State, 52-20, in the Sugar Bowl; 1997 – Charles Woodson, Michigan (No. 2), beat Washington State, 21-16, in the Rose Bowl; 1998 – Ricky Williams, Texas (No. 34), beat Mississippi State, 38-11, in the Cotton Bowl; 1999 – Ron Dayne, Wisconsin (No. 33), beat Stanford, 17-9, in the Rose Bowl.
2000 – Chris Weinke, Florida State (No. 16), lost to Oklahoma, 13-2, in the Orange Bowl; 2001 – Eric Crouch, Nebraska (No. 7), lost to Miami, 37-14, in the Rose Bowl; 2002 – Carson Palmer, Southern Cal (No. 3), beat Iowa, 38-17, in the Orange Bowl; 2003 – Jason White, Oklahoma (No. 18), lost to LSU, 21-14, in Sugar Bowl; 2004 – Matt Leinart, Southern Cal (No. 11), beat Oklahoma, 55-19, in the Orange Bowl.
2005 – Reggie Bush, Southern Cal (No. 5), lost to Texas, 31-28, in Rose Bowl (trophy award later vacated for recruiting violations); 2006 – Troy Smith, Ohio State (No. 10), lost to Florida, 41-14, in national championship game; 2007 – Tim Tebow, Florida (No. 15), lost to Michigan, 41-35, in Capital One Bowl; 2008 – Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (No. 14), lost to Florida, 24-14, in national championship game; 2009 – Mark Ingram, Alabama (No. 22), beat Texas, 37-21, in national championship game.
2010 – Cam Newton, Auburn (No. 2), beat Oregon, 22-19, in national championship game; and 2011 – Robert Griffin III, Baylor (No. 10), beat Washington, 67-56, in Valero Alamo Bowl.

Jcshearer2@comcast.net


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