Dandy Dozen: In defense of the Heisman

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One of the greatest linebackers to ever put on pads, Butkus finished third in the Heisman voting behind a couple of quarterbacks, John Huarte from Notre Dame and Jerry Rhome from Tulsa, in 1964. He had finished sixth the year before. He didn’t get the Heisman, but now there’s an award named after Butkus that goes to the best college linebacker.

5) Rich Glover, dl, Nebraska.

Placed third behind teammate and winner Johnny Rodgers and Oklahoma tailback Greg Pruitt in 1972. Playing middle guard the for the Blackshirts, Glover also won the Outland and Lombardi awards as the best lineman in the country. Cornhuskers Hall of Fame coach Bob Devaney called Glover the best defensive player he ever coached.

6) Lee Roy Jordan, lb, Alabama.

Coach Bear Bryant said of Jordan that he “never had a bad day.” He was the cornerstone of some of the Bear’s best teams, including a national championship winner in 1961. The next season, the Tide fell short of another title, but Jordan was fourth in Heisman voting, and finished his career with 31 tackles in a 17-0 victory against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

7) Steve Emtman, dt, Washington.

The Huskie shared the national championship in 1991, voted No. 1 in the coaches’ poll while Miami held the top spot in the AP. Emtman was a huge _ literally, at 6-foot-4, 294 pounds _ force for that undefeated team. He finished fourth in a Heisman vote won in a landslide by Michigan’s Desmond Howard.

8) Brian Bosworth, lb, Oklahoma.

The brash-talking, mohawk-headed Boz gets remembered as an over-hyped media creation because he didn’t amount to much in the NFL, but as a Sooner he could really play. He won the first two Butkus Awards and in 1986 he finished fourth in the Heisman voting. Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde was the winner.

9) Chuck Bednarik, lb, Pennsylvania.

Little bit of a cheat because Bednarik played center and occasionally punted. But Bednarik now has an award named after him that goes to the nation’s best defensive player. In 1948, he finished third in the Heisman voting behind running backs Doak Walker of SMU and Charlie Justice of North Carolina. Bednarik won the Maxwell Award, college football’s other prestigious player of the year trophy.

Bednarik was one of several two-way stars to finish in the top five of the Heisman voting before two-platoon football became common. Oklahoma’s Kurt Burris (finished second in 1954) and Jerry Tubbs (fourth in 1956) were among the notable. Both played center on offense in addition to their duties on defense.

10) Ross Browner, dt, Notre Dame.

Browner had already won the Outland Trophy as a junior in 1976. In 1977, he added the Lombardi and Maxwell Awards, but he only managed a fifth in the Heisman voting, not even good enough for best on his title-winning team. Fighting Irish TE Ken MacAfee finished third behind Texas’ Earl Campbell and Oklahoma State’s Terry Miller.

11) Terry Hoage, db, Georgia.

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