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Total Offense and the Heisman

One of the leading statistical indicators of late for determining the Heisman winner has been total offense — meaning, yards gained running and passing. As I talked about in my story today about Super Quarterbacks, the last four Heisman winning quarterbacks have piled up an average of 4,566 yards of total offense in their Heisman-winning seasons (these numbers include the bowls). Not surprisingly, those four winners are among the top 10 all-time among Heisman seasons for total offense.

Johnny Manziel is at 4,600 yards so far in 2012, which would put him fifth on this list. Given that he averages 383 yards of total offense per game, he has a chance to catch the overall leader with a big game in the Cotton Bowl.

Here’s the top 10 total offense totals among Heisman winners in the year they won the trophy:

1. Ty Detmer, BYU, 1990 — 5,022 yards

2. Robert Griffin III, Baylor, 2011 — 4,992 yards

3. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, 2008 — 4, 767 yards

4. Andre Ware, Houston , 1989 — 4,661 yards

5. Cameron Newton, Auburn, 2010 — 4,327 yards

6. Tim Tebow, Florida, 2007 — 4,181 yards

7. Chris Weinke, Florida State, 2000 — 4,070 yards

8. Carson Palmer, USC, 2002 — 3,820 yards

9. Jason White, Oklahoma, 2003 — 3,744 yards

10. Doug Flutie, Boston College, 1984 — 3,603 yards


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Heisman Photos of the Day

With Johnny Manziel poised to bring Texas A&M its second Heisman in school history, I thought I’d look back on its first winner, John David Crow, who won in 1957. Here he is accepting the Heisman at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City:

Crow’s trademark scowl was the result of an accident at birth (h/t to the comment section): 

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Thanksgiving Week in Heisman History

Thanksgiving weekend 1964, undefeated Notre Dame came to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum ranked No. 1 and led by eventual 1964 Heisman winner John Huarte. USC entered the game unranked at 7-3 (AP only ranked the top 10 teams in ’64) led by captain Craig Fertig and 1965 Heisman winner Mike Garrett.

Notre Dame took a quick 17-0 lead and maintained it until the break but USC coach John Mckay prophetically said to his troops in his halftime speech: “Keep playing your game, you’ll score”.

The Trojans came out roaring in the second half as Garrett scored on USC’s first possession. Notre Dame would score again in the fourth but have the touchdown nullified by a holding call. Trojan quarterback Craig Fertig would throw for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter including the game winning touchdown to Rod Sherman (on a play called 84 Z-delay) with just 1:33 to go in the game. USC beat Notre Dame 20-17, ruining the Irish’ bid for a perfect season.

First year Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian was photographed just as USC scored to take the lead in the fourth quarter, leading to this classic shot:



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Heisman Photo of the Day

Here’s a bit of Heisman whimsy for your Monday morning. This picture of the president was taken in 2009 in Mack Brown’s office. Any guesses whose Heisman he’s holding?

The president doesn’t seem to have the Heisman pose quite down in 2009 and its only gets worse; here he is in April of 2012 with the Air Force team.

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Heisman History: Terry Baker

I was looking back on 1962 Heisman winner Terry Baker of Oregon State this morning when I stumbled upon a Sports Illustrated article published in 1961. Here is the opening paragraph:

In an era of specialization, when few college undergraduates have time or energy to devote themselves to more than one campus activity, Terry Baker, a gaunt 20-year-old who plays quarterback for Oregon State University is that rare thing—the all-round man. Last year Baker, as a sophomore, was selected by both the Associated Pressand UPI as a first-team All-Coast back after setting an Oregon State total offense record of 1,473 yards. He is one of the best basketball players in the college, having averaged 17.8 points a game during his freshman year. Moreover, before he reached college. Baker pitched the Jefferson High School baseball team of Portland to the state championship. He is majoring in mechanical engineering, one of the toughest courses at Oregon State, and he has a scholastic average just under Phi Beta Kappa level. Although only in his junior year, Baker is the president of his Phi Delta Theta fraternity, an honor always previously reserved for seniors. In recent years probably only Army’s Pete Dawkins, whom Baker resembles, was a finer athlete, scholar and leader.

Baker, as the cover story in SI

The article is a fascinating look into the life of an early 1960′s dual sport student athlete (emphasis on student) that would go on to win the Heisman, play in the NCAA Final Four and be drafted as the first overall selection in the 1963 NFL draft (all three events took place within five months).

Baker on the 1962-63 Oregon State Basketball Team

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This Day in Heisman History

Twenty five years ago today on November 14th, 1987 eventual Heisman winner Tim Brown led the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to a 37-6 victory over Alabama in South Bend. The Irish out gained Alabama 465 yards to 185 thanks in large part to Brown’s efforts. Brown had 225 all purpose yards catching, returning and even rushing the ball.

Here’s a clip of an Alabama kick off return from that game that doesn’t end well for the returner:

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This Week in Heisman History: Rashaan Salaam runs over Oklahoma

Things aren’t so good for the Colorado football program right now. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Buffaloes were one of the nation’s elite teams.

An undefeated regular season in 1989 and a share of the national title in 1990 for Colorado resulted in a shakeup of the Big 8 during that time, with the Buffaloes challenging traditional powers Oklahoma andNebraska for conference hegemony.

Coach Bill McCartney was the main reason for this success. He was an excellent recruiter and he raided the talent-rich Southern California area for many of his best players. One of the biggest names he brought to Boulder was a running back from the San Diego area namedRashaan Salaam.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder was highly sought after by schools from all around the country despite the fact that he played on an eight-man football team for a small private school. It took a year for Salaam to adjust to the 11-man game, as he rushed for just 158 yards in his first season for the Buffaloes. But by his sophomore year, he was beginning to make his mark, rushing for 844 yards and eight touchdowns as a part-time back.

To term his 1994 junior season as a ‘breakout year’ would be an understatement. In his first five games, he rushed for 892 yards and 12 touchdowns as Colorado jumped out to a 5-0 start, including wins over No. 10 Wisconsin, No. 4 Michigan and No. 16 Texas.

The sixth game was a tussle with No. 22 Oklahoma. It came on Oct. 15, 1994 … this week in Heisman history.

Salaam rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries as the Buffaloes throttled the Sooners, 45-7. It was the most points that Colorado had ever scored against Oklahoma. It was such an utter domination, it caused Denver Post columnist Woody Paige to write “The last time I saw such an awful Oklahoma performance was at a dinner theater in Tulsa.” Salaam took over the nation’s lead in rushing from Washington’s Napolean Kaufman and, from that point on, he was the Heisman front-runner.

It all goes to show you how important it is to play well against a traditional power like Oklahoma. While the Sooners were going through a down period, their tradition still resonated with Heisman voters. Salaam’s mastery against Oklahoma helped give him the credibility to hold off his Heisman challengers the rest of the way.

Salaam became only the fourth player to surpass 2,000 rushing yards in a season, finishing with 2,055 and 24 touchdowns in 11 games. The Buffs finished 11-1 and third in the national rankings.

Salaam captured all six regions and won the Heisman over fierce competition from Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter and Alcorn State quarterback Steve McNair. He skipped his senior year to enter the NFL draft and became a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears.

He didn’t have a great NFL career but, on that Saturday in mid-October of 1994, there wasn’t a better back in the country than Salaam.

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