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. 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 Volunteers 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.
3. 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.
2. Paul Hornung over Jim Brown et al (1956): Yes, I realize that Hornung’s ugly quarterbacking numbers don’t tell the whole story. He was an elite runner and defensive back during the 1956 season. But his performance certainly does not matchup with that of the awards other major contenders that season: Tennessee passer Johnny Major, the Oklahoma Sooners’ powerhouse tailback Tommy McDonald, his teammate Jerry Tubbs (who was a veritable human road grader at tackle), and Syracuse fullback Jim Brown, who dominated the East that season.