So I've been tasked by our advertising overlords (EA SPORTS NCAA 2013 BUY IT NOW) with discussing great football players who did not win the Heisman Trophy, and perhaps would have were I making such a decision. It's an interesting discussion, but it's unfortunately one which has little to do with Ole Miss. Still, if I were to suggest players who could have won the Heisman for Ole Miss, didn't (all of them, obviously), and perhaps should have, there are only two very obvious answers: Archie and Eli Manning.
In 1970, Archie Manning finished third in the Heisman voting behind Standford's Jim Plunkett and Notre Dame's Joe Theismann. Archie's career up to that point was a great one, arguably worthy of the Heisman. He started in the first national prime time broadcast of a college football game against Alabama in 1969, where he threw for 436 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 104 yards - setting the SEC record for most total yards in a game by an individual with 540. At Ole Miss, he threw for 4,753 yards and 31 touchdowns and ran for 823 yards. He was twice named to the all-SEC team and named SEC MVP once.
Still, Jim Plunkett's career at Stanford was just as remarkable. He set Pac 10 records in touchdowns and passing yards and led the Cardinal to their first Rose Bowl in 20-something years, where they, as underdogs, beat Ohio State 21-17. Considering Plunkett success, it's hard to say he wasn't a worthy Heisman winner.
Eli Manning also finished third in the Heisman voting, losing to Jason White and Larry Fitzgerald in 2003. Eli was, like his father, named the SEC MVP and set several records of his own. His team was the closest any Ole Miss team has come to the SEC championship since the 1960's, and he generally proved himself to be one of the best college quarterbacks of that season. Second place finisher Larry Fitzgerald was the most dominant receiver in college football, so he certainly deserved legitimate Heisman consideration as well. Jason White, though, was a wobbly-kneed, ugly faced system quarterback playing for a perennially prominent program. The fact that the Jason Whites of the world actually win this trophy demonstrates its flaws.
Neither of those snubs, though, compare to the greatest Heisman snub of all time, and that was Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier losing the 1995 Heisman to halfback Eddie George of Ohio State. Eddie George was great and all, but Tommie Frazier is perhaps the most dominant option quarterback to have ever played football, and he was the leader of a team which is considered one of the greatest college football teams to have ever played. He meant a lot to Nebraska and their 1996 National Title.
I mean, just look at this. Anybody who is capable of doing something like this - against the #2 ranked Florida Gators in a national championship game, no less - deserves a little bit of hardware, don't you think?
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