Marshall Faulk, Jim Brown Among Top 5 Heisman Trophy Snubs Of All-Time

By Ryan Bergman
December 02, 2011 8:28 am
7,437 Views 11 Comments
For 76 years the Heisman Trophy has been awarded to college football's most outstanding player and over that time many of football's greats have claimed the trophy for their collection. However, when looking at college football's Mount Olympus, some of the greats of the game are missing, replaced by mere mortals who stepped up for 1 season before descending back into pigskin obscurity. This list for those the voters forgot, the top 5 snubs in Heisman history!

5) Derrick Thomas, LB Alabama 1988:  The reason I'm starting with Mr. Thomas is because it's hard to argue he got snubbed in 1988, after all that was the season when Barry Sanders single handedly rewrote the rushing record books, amassing 2,628 yards rushing, 3,249 all purpose yards, and 39 touchdowns. No, my beef with Derrick Thomas in the Heisman vote is that he finished 10th. This was the season in which Thomas set the NCAA record for most sacks in a season with 27, a record which stands today. Again, the Heisman is to go to the most outstanding player, regardless of what side of the ball they play on. To think that Thomas finished behind such players as Tony Mandarich, Major Harris, and Timm Rosenbach is saddening really. When you consider Deion Sanders finished 8th that year, also behind those three players mentioned earlier, it becomes a downright shame.

4) Byron Leftwich, QB Marshall 2001: Surprised to see Byron here? Don't be. Leftwich didn't finish in the top 10 in the Heisman vote in 2001, yet finished 6th in 2002, when he played at a lower level on the field! Don't believe me, here's the numbers.

2001: 67.0% completion, 4,132 yards, 38 touchdowns, 7 ints, 164.6 efficiency rating
2002: 67.4% completion, 4,268 yards, 30 touchdowns, 10 ints, 156.5 efficiency rating

Sure, the yardage was slightly better in 2002, as was the completion percentage, but to think that Eric Crouch won the 2001 Heisman as the best player in the country when Byron put up those numbers and didn't even finish in the top 10 in the vote tells me some voters were sleeping on the Thundering Herd's best player.

3) LaDainian Tomlinson, RB TCU 2000: Stop me if you've heard this one before, player at a non BCS school puts up crazy numbers, finishes below good, but not great player from BCS conference who plays for the national title. Yeah, hard to tell what year that is by that description, but 2000 was the closest thing the Heisman trophy ever had to a highway robbery. Tomlinson lead the nation in rushing for the second straight year, amassing 2,158 yards and 22 touchdowns , but lost out to Chris Weinke, a minor-league baseball flameout who became a good quarterback at Florida State. What's worse is that Tomlinson finished 4th that season, finishing behind Josh Heupel of Oklahoma and Drew Brees, future teammate. Of those 4 men two will go into the football hall of fame, two will not.

2) Marshall Faulk, RB San Diego State 1991, 92, 93: Ah, but before there was LT2, there was Marshall Faulk. Faulk holds the distinction of finishing in the top 10 on 3 separate occasion with Heisman voting, yet never winning the trophy. His freshman year Faulk has 218 touches, gaining 1,630 yards from scrimmage and scoring a mind boggling 23 touchdowns. He finished 9th in 1991, far behind winner Desmond Howard. In 1992 he improved to 283 touches, gaining 1,758 yards from scrimmage and dropping his touchdowns to 15. He finished runner-up that year to Miami's Gino Toretta. Then in 1993, Faulk had his best season, getting 347 touches for 2174 yards from scrimmage and 24 touchdowns. Shocking he dropped in the voting to 4th behind winner Charlie Ward, Heath Shuler, and David Palmer. Truly Faulk was the best mid-major player never to win the Heisman.

1) Jim Brown, RB Syracuse 1956: Complete no brainer that Jim Brown missing out on the Heisman in 1956 in the biggest snub of all time. Let's face facts, Brown didn't win the award that year because he was an African-American. His 986 yards on 158 carries in ten games led him to rank third in the nation for yards per game and also adding 14 total touchdowns. Add to that he played on the other side of the ball and was second on the team with 3 interceptions and kicked 23 extra points for the Orange and you have a man who should have easily defeated Paul Hornung and his 3/13 td to int ration for a 2-8 Notre Dame team. This isn't to say that Hornung wasn't a great player, he was and had great seasons, but 1956 wasn't that at all, it was the year of Jim Brown. It's sad to think that a man who lettered in 4 sports while at Syracuse doesn't have a Heisman trophy to his name, but that's the way it was in 1956.

So there you go, the top 5 Heisman snubs of all-time. Did I miss you favorite snub or do you just want to discuss this more? Leave a comment below and let's get the debate going!

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By Ryan Bergman
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Previous Comments (11)

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3 years ago
Great topic! Any consideration for Peyton Manning on this list? SEC diehards are still miffed he lost out on the Heisman to Charles Woodson.
3 years ago

Manning would be on here around 6-8. His 1997 season was fantastic, but third place Ryan Leaf put up similar numbers. Another thing that could have swung it for Woodson was that he played and was effective on both sides of the ball. Heck, if anything the fact I left out Randy Moss for the 97 vote might be more egregious. 90 receptions for 1647 yards and 25(!) tds
3 years ago
Ive been waiting for a forum for this topic for a LONG time. Though I agree with your list for the most part, you missed the greatest snub of all time. Peyton Manning (no I am not a UT fan at all), was entire raped and robbed of his trophy his senior year. After his snub, I have barely given the award a momentary thought because that was purely a political vote for Michigan. The winner that year(what was his name anyway)never could have been considered the best player in college football!!!!!!!!!!
3 years ago

That man is Charles Woodsen and I addressed Manning above. If anything, the fact that Randy Moss finished 4th is more of a snub.

Manning had the lowest completion percentage of his college career that season (60.37)while putting up a solid TD/Int ration of 37/11.

I do agree that this might have become the year where it became a best player on the best team award, but to dismiss Woodson's season isn't wise. It probably should have been closer than it was in the final vote (1815-1543), You blame lies with the midwest voting block, which gave Woodson the biggest vote difference over Manning (355-218)
3 years ago

Yes, Peyton was robbed. Champ bailey played both ways the next season for UGA (with similar stats to Woodson) and didn't get close to the Heisman. ESPN/ABC overhyped Woodson that whole season.
3 years ago
No. Charles Woodson Rules. Where is Manning's National Championship? Nowhere..that's where. GoBlue!!
3 years ago
One that seldom get mentioned, but I think was a huge snub, perhaps the biggest of all time, was Tommie Frazier in 1995. I know Eddie George was good, but as some have said of Manning's snub in favor of Woodson, it was political. George, like Woodson, was from the Big 10. Frazier, ran one of the most dominant offenses in college football history that season, and although part of the problem was the number of amazing atheletes he had around him, OSU had no shortage of other talent on offense as well. Frazier's 70 yard TD run against #2 Florida, where he broke something like 7 tackles, was just an example of the incredible talent he was. He played for three national titles (winning two), only lost three games he started in his career, and was absolutely dominant in 1995 when his team made a very tough schedule look easy. He clearly should have won the award.
3 years ago
Emmitt "if I had gone to Notre Dame I would have won the Heisman" Smith.
3 years ago
Not so much a comment on who is missing but it is rediculous that Hornung won the year that he did. His stats were not impressive and the team was terrible. He won because he went to Notre Dame. It was a total joke.
3 years ago
Count me as another who thinks Peyton Manning was the biggest snub ever. The man epitomized greatness, college, and excellence. Woodson was very good, but after years of a slow groundswell of support growing for the award to go to a "non-traditional" player, it was just bad luck that Manning was the best candidate on the year that the voters finally decided to give it to a non-traditional position.
3 years ago
If you'll remember, a few years before that you had Orlando Pace supporters suggesting it go to a non-traditionl position player, that idea grew and grew until it eventually went to Woodson. Woodson was the right player at the right time, but he was not the most deserving, that was Manning.

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