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Big 10 Countdown #45: Archie Griffin Doubles Up on Heismans

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76 Heisman Trophies.

75 Heisman Trophy winners.

After 76 years of handing out the award, there is still only one name that appears on the list more than once and that name is former Ohio State Buckeye, Archie Griffin, who took home the 13.5 inch, 25lb cast bronze prize in 1974 and 1975. 

The 1974 win was well-deserved as he easily outpointed Anthony Davis of USC and Oklahoma's Joe Washington who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. Griffin rushed for 1620 yards, scored 12 touchdowns and averaged 6.9 ypc for the 10-2 Big 10 champs. Davis got a measure of revenge as the Trojans defeated the Bucks 18-17 in the Rose Bowl, but with close to 300 more yards rushing and a yards per carry average that was over two yards better, there was no real controversy over the trophy itself.

That wasn't the case in 1975, however.

The 1975 choice still shows up regularly on lists of worst winners ever alongside such famous voting flubs as Hornung over Majors, Rogers over Walker, Torretta over Hearst/Faulk and Woodson over Manning. A look back shows that a 4th place finish for Griffin would not have been out of the question:

Griffin - 245 Att, 1357 Yds, 5.5 Avg, 4 TD

Chuck Muncie - 228 Att, 1460 Yds, 6.4 Avg, 13 TD

Ricky Bell - 357 Att, 1875 Yds, 5.3 Avg, 13 TD

Tony Dorsett - 228 Att, 1544 Yds, 6.8 Avg, 11 TD

For that matter, a case could made for teammate, Pete Johnson, who ran for 1059 yards and 26 TD's.

When the times are taken into consideration, however, there really never was any doubt as to what the result would end up being. First of all, the Heisman was an award that went to the best senior on offense.

Period.

The last junior to win before Griffin was Roger Staubach in 1963, but he was a good white military kid, so exceptions could be made. Before that, one had to go back to 1950 to find another, Vic Janowicz - also a Buckeye. Given that only three juniors in 26 years had been deemed suitable, it wasn't happening in back-to-back seasons, so Bell and Dorsett were basically eliminated right off the bat.

That left Muncie, and if you think there's an east coast bias in sports reporting now, you have no idea what it was like back then. Muncie was from a west coast school that wasn't called USC or UCLA. Even worse, wasn't Cal-Berkeley where all those hippies hung out and smoked weed and marched and protested? Well, there wouldn't be any of THAT during the acceptance speech.

Add to the above the fact that the media was warming greatly to the idea of a back-to-back winner and it becomes pretty clear why Griffin not only won, but won big (454 1st place votes to 145 for Muncie).

The 1975 voting aside, however, Griffin is deservedly remembered as one of college football's greatest running backs ever rushing for 5177 career yards and averaging over 6 ypc in an era not known for a good passing attack opening up the running game.

Little known fact: Griffin finished 5th in the voting as a sophomore.