What is the Heisman Trophy in College Football?

What is the Heisman Trophy in College Football

In college football, the Heisman Trophy is their form of the MVP award. It goes out to the highest performer at the end of each year at a special ceremony. Throughout history, they have frequently come from FBS schools like Stanford, higher ranking schools like the crimson tide, or power five conferences like the big ten. Some of the best players in college football, like Tim Tebow, Ernie Davis, and Desmond Howard have won the Heisman.


So, why do they call it the Heisman? How is the Heisman Trophy Winner Determined? Can a player win multiple Heisman Trophies in their College Football Career? Has a true freshman ever won the Heisman? What school has the most Heisman winners? Who is the youngest person to win a Heisman? How much is a Heisman trophy with, and why do so many Heisman trophy winners fail in the NFL?


Below we will discuss the Heisman trophy and the history behind it.


Why is it Called the Heisman?

Why is it Called the Heisman

The Heisman trophy acquired its name from the late John Heisman, a man who not only coached college football but brought a lot of innovation to the game that has stuck since. He helped create the center snap, the handoff, a scoreboard, pre-snap shift, the hike-hut cadence, broke the game into four quarters, introduced the forward pass, and coached college football for 27 seasons.


These attributes and his popularity within the Downtown athletic club of New York(the organization that gave out the Heisman trophy before closing for good in 2001) contributed to them choosing his name for the award.


How Do They Determine the Heisman Trophy Winner?

How Do They Determine the Heisman Trophy Winner

Selecting of the Heisman Trophy winner is handled by the Heisman trophy trust, which gives out ballots to 870 media members who have close ties to college football, every previous living winner, and one fan selection. These media members and former players are from a diverse range selected by representatives in six designated regions, the northeast, southwest, South, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and the Far West. The voters can then select up to three players, each getting a certain number of points based on their position. 


For example, their first selection gets three points, second place gets two points, and third place gets one. The points are then tallied up, with three to six finalists announced before the ceremony, where the overall winner will win the Heisman.


Can a Player Win Multiple Heisman Trophies in their College Football Career?

Can a Player Win Multiple Heisman Trophies in their College Football Career

A player can win a Heisman trophy more than once, but it is rare. Most players will either make their way to the NFL or get outperformed by someone else in the next year. The only person in college football history to win the Heisman trophy twice was Archie griffin in 1974 and 1975, playing for Ohio State.


Has a True Freshman Ever Won the Heisman?

Has a True Freshman Ever Won the Heisman

A true freshman is often a player who shows extreme promise coming out of high school. While most players may have to wait a year or two to get on the field, they begin playing right out the gate. However, even with this promise, it is hard for anyone to win the Heisman trophy.


To date, no true first-year student has won the Heisman trophy. Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and Jameis Winston of Florida State won the Heisman as freshmen but were considered redshirt freshmen meaning that within the academic school system, they were sophomores. However, in the athletic department, they were technically freshmen.


What School has the most Heisman Winners?

What School has the most Heisman Winners

Three schools have the most Heisman Trophy winners: Oklahoma, Notre Dame, and Ohio State have had seven winners from their programs as of 2022. This group would have included USC, but one of their Heisman Trophy winners, Reggie Bush, gave back the award in 2010 over an allegation he received money during his playing days.


Oklahoma also holds the honor of being the only school to have a Heisman trophy-winning quarterback in two consecutive years, with Kyler Murray winning in 2018 and Baker Mayfield winning in 2017. Alabama was the first to have two consecutive Heisman winners of different positions when quarterback Bryce young and wide receiver Devonta smith went back to back in 2020 and 2021.


Who is the Youngest Person to win a Heisman?

Who is the Youngest Person to win a Heisman

The youngest player to ever win the Heisman trophy was Lamar Jackson in 2016 at 19 years and 338 days. Not too much older than the second oldest, Jameis Winston, who was 19 years and 342 days, or the third oldest, Mark Ingram, who was 19 and 356 days old.


How Much is a Heisman Trophy Worth?

How Much is a Heisman Trophy Worth

If a player were to win the Heisman trophy, they would receive a reward of $800,000.


Regarding the actual hardware, it is unknown how much it cost to make the trophy, but former players have sold their Heisman, and the most expensive one was Tim browns trophy which went for $435,763.


Why Do So Many Heisman Trophy Winners Fail in the NFL?

Why Do So Many Heisman Trophy Winners Fail in the NFL

Winning the Heisman trophy does not always mean a player will have a great career in the NFL for various reasons. For starters, some would say the award does not always go to the best college player but to the player who puts up the best stats. In a game like a college football, where there is often a massive gap in talent on a field, it can be easy for a slightly talented quarterback or running back to rake up touchdowns.


Matt Leinart won his Heisman in 2004 and was arguably one of the best quarterbacks in college football, but he faced off against cornerbacks and linebackers straight out of high school. Not to mention USC was such a popular school at the time that they could recruit some of the best running backs and wide receivers in the nation, giving him a distinct advantage. Once he made it to the NFL, he played against top-tier defensive players. So, in a game, his team and opponents played on a similar level, showcasing his shortcomings as a quarterback now that he did not have the dominant team.


The NCAA is a different game than the professional level. For example, NFL players are facing a top-tier player who get the best coaching, conditioning, etc. Even being a slightly above player in the NCAA but playing for teams like Texas, Georgia or Pittsburgh could make it appear like you are the best player in the country. Players like Marcus Mariota, Sam Bradford, or Steve Spurrier were never able to make it big in the NFL.


Conclusion: What is the Heisman Trophy in College Football?

The Heisman is a way for the NCAA to honor its best players. They hold the Heisman memorial trophy ceremony on ESPN each year. Along with that, they invite the family and friends of the players, and make it a memorable experience for everyone. The close to 1000 members who vote pay attention to the season to make sure they pick the best players.


Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors have won the award and taken the cash price with it. John Heisman could never have imagined what the award would become today. Even though the trophy does not guarantee NFL success, there have been outliers. Bo Jackson of Auburn, O.J. Simpson of USC, Derrick Henry of Alabama, and Charles Woodson of Michigan all had great college and professional careers.


For many college football players, it is a dream to one day win the Heisman. Winning the Heisman puts that player into a special group that is unlike any other accolade.


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