The South and the Heisman Trophy

Washington apparently isn’t the only place where a Republican-dominated South has run short of juice.

This from today’s Wall Street Journal — the sports section — on college football’s Heisman Trophy:

College football fans are famous for holding grudges. Sometimes it’s a blown call, a turncoat coach, a phantom touchdown or an old water jug that wasn’t promptly returned.

But in some parts of the country—and especially in the South—there’s one old grievance that still burns hot. When it comes to the Heisman, they say, the South gets a raw deal.

While the voting is designed to be egalitarian—the 870 media members who vote on the award are equally divided among the nation’s six major regions—for whatever reason, Heisman voters have not been kind to Southern football. Since 1935, the year of the first award, individuals from the Midwest have won 22 Heismans overall while the Southwest has claimed 16 and the West 11.

The total for the South, as defined by the Heisman, is 12; and outside the state of Florida, it’s five—the last being Auburn’s Bo Jackson in 1985. Alabama, which owns the second-most consensus national championships among major schools behind Notre Dame, has never won. Tennessee, which is the eighth-winningest major college team, hasn’t either.

Bear in mind that the Southeastern Conference didn’t just become football’s dominant force. The SEC has won the most national titles of any conference since the award began.

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17 comments Add your comment


August 25th, 2009
1:00 pm

I’m no Vol fan but anyone with an ounce of sense knows that P. Manning got the shaft big time the year Charles Woodson won the award. You want evidence of regional bias? Champ Bailey shortly followed that season up with an even better year (offensively and defensively) than Woodson and didn’t even get within spitting distance of Heisman consideration.

National awards will always be slanted to Big 10 / Notre Dame area schools. It’s a fact and the only thing we can do about it is prove them wrong on the field. Guess which conference and region of the country is most dead-set against a playoff system? You got it.


August 25th, 2009
1:14 pm

Amen GeoffDaqg. As a Vol fan, it was disgusting the ABC/ESPN bias towards Charles Woodson that year. I understand Peyton didn’t beat Florida, but a lot was not his fault. I think in three of the losses, Florida scored something like 40 points (his jr year it was 63). The man doesn’t play defense. Unlike QBs, defense players don’t have any negative stats so when Charles Woodson gets smoked for a TD (which happened a few times), its not recored as any stat.

I hate Florida, but Tebow not winning the heisman last year was a joke. When some of the Texas and Oklahoma voters don’t even have him in the top 3, you know it’s crap. At least the Southern voters seemed to vote based on who they think actually deserves it.


August 25th, 2009
1:15 pm

Joe Hamilton got screwed as well. He finished second to Ron Dayne from Wisconsin who received the award based on his career not the 1999 season.


August 25th, 2009
1:36 pm

I’m a Georgia grad and utterly despise Florida. I loved every minute of Tebow balling on national television after the loss to Old Miss. He said that no one would play harder than he would after that loss and then DID IT. I don’t seem to remember Sam Bradford putting himself out on a line like that. It’s a sad joke that Tim got passed over, though I still can’t wait for him to graduate.

Big Ten

August 25th, 2009
1:41 pm

Don’t hate! Tebow shouldn’t have won the Heisman his sophomore year, but he did. Darren McFadden had a far better year in 2007. Get over it. Maybe the SEC schools can use trickle down and get some money to the southern states so they can improved their education systems. Talk about Heismans, where do SC, MS, GA, AL, TN, AR, and KY rank in education? That seems a more political topic than football Galloway.


August 25th, 2009
1:42 pm

I’m no Florida fan by a long shot but Tebow is the real deal. He’s a leader, a playmaker and a winner. He deserved the Heisman at least twice as much as either of the other guys.


August 25th, 2009
2:05 pm

Big Ten – why didn’t Tebow deserve it his sophomore year? Can you put together a tad more compelling argument than that? Speaking of McFadden, he should’ve won it in 2006 over noodle armed Troy Smith. Off the top of my head, other SEC sophomores who got the Heisman shaft include Herschel (of course) and Rex Grossman (as much as I hate to give a Gator any credit).

Going back a bit in time but if we pull the UT card again, didn’t Paul Hornung win it on a horrible Notre Dame team win it over Johnny Majors who had far superior stats?


August 25th, 2009
2:15 pm

In my humble opinion, the south runs from the southeastern coast out to Texas and everything in between. Those “3 yards and a cloud of dust” Big 10 years are forever gone along with the Heisman Trophy winners from that era. About the only midwest team that has anything going for it is Ohio State. Perhaps Notre Dame some years and not many other schools at anytime. The run and gun offenses, along with good defenses, are the fan’s favorite these days. Kids are going to school where they can have some fun playing the best sport there is.


August 25th, 2009
2:15 pm

Yes, Johnny Majors also got screwed. Paul Horning’s Notre Dame team went a whopping 3-8 and he won it over Majors.


August 25th, 2009
2:18 pm

All SEC fans know Johnny Majors, SEC MVP on a 10 – 0, team was the best player in the US; but Paul Hornung on a 5 – 5 Notre Dame team won the Heisman.


August 25th, 2009
2:36 pm

If you look back more than a few years, the voting was NOT distributed nationally. Publicity made all the difference. One year when Archie Griffin won, he wasn’t even the best running back. A fellow at Jackson State was.


August 25th, 2009
2:37 pm

Thanks to all who gave Tim his due.
Last year’s Heisman should have gone to him as well.
Everyone ooohed and ahhhed over Bradford’s numbers, but he didn’t play against the defenses Tebow did.
And let’s not even bring up intangibles.
Timmy’s a better leader, on or off the field, than any other QB in contention, including the eventual winner.
Poetic justice prevailed when #15 willed UF to victory in the BCSCG’s fourth quarter against the Sooners.
As good a QB as you could hope for, but a better person you will never find.

T'ville Dawg

August 25th, 2009
3:03 pm

Herschel probably had one of the 10 best seasons ever in leading UGA to that 1980 national championship and of course the excuse given for him not winning was that he was a freshman. Betcha if he played for the condoms of USC he would have won it easily.


August 25th, 2009
5:01 pm

“Big Ten” where do they rank? I think that you may be suprised to find out how good they are. Vandy, Georgia Tech, Duke, Emory, Wake Forest, Davidson these schools are at the top of the list so don’t be so arrogant.

Jim Callihan

August 26th, 2009
12:31 am

Good point, Jimbo! On a related note, look how many Heisman winners went bust in the NFL, or (Charlie Ward) never even played a down. And props to the readers – the Johnny Majors snuff was epic!

Trivia? Who’s the only college player to run for a score, throw for a score, catch a score and kick for a score (all in the same season)? Yep. It won him the hardware.



August 26th, 2009
12:04 pm

Lol Jim – I think you mean snub, not snuff. I don’t think the Heisman committee literally killed Johnny Majors.

Interesting piece of trivia and I can honestly say that I have no clue other than that it was probably back in the forties or fifties.


August 27th, 2009
4:28 pm

the answer to Jim’s trivia is Spurrier…