I’ll hand it to the Heisman voters. Usually, they pick the right man to walk that aisle at the Downtown Athletic Club and hoist college football’s most coveted honor.
But sometimes, they don’t get it right. In hindsight, there are 10 instances when the voters handed the trophy to the wrong man. Today, we will be looking at three more of those instances.
4. Larry Kelley over Sammy Baugh (1936): Yale end Larry Kelley was the nation’s premier pass-catcher in 1936, averaging better than 21 yards per reception. His victory, though, can be more attributed to his familiarity to the Eastern media establishment, which dominated the award’s voting in its early years, than his status as the nation’s top college player. TCU’s “Slingin” Sammy Baugh, who finished fourth in the vote, was not only the nation’s best passer in 1936. He was also an All-American as a punter and a top-notch defensive back.
3. Dick Kazmaier over Hank Lauricella (1951): Dick Kazmaier had a fantastic season for Princeton in 1951, posting 861 yards against the fading competition of the long-dominant Ivy League. Nevertheless, “Mr. Everything” Hank Lauricella deserved the trophy that season. The Tennessee back, who was both the primary rusher and passer in Robert Neyland’s vaunted T-formation offense, led the Vols to back-to-back National Championships in 1950 and 1951. Heisman runner-up Lauricella averaged nearly 8 yards per carry in the 1951 season.
2. John David Crow over Alex Karras (1957): Texas A&M’s John David Crow was the only Heisman Trophy winner ever coached by Bear Bryant. Crow led the Aggies to a number nine ranking in the polls and was the sledgehammer in Texas A&M’s power running game. Despite Crow’s accomplishments, Iowa defensive tackle Alex Karras was clearly the most unstoppable force in college football that season. In an era before the sack statistic was kept formally, Karras harassed quarterbacks throughout the Big Ten and blew up all attempts to run the ball on the Hawkeye’s defensive front.