The Story of the Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Trophy is an annual award given to the college football player who is voted the top in the nation by a combination of former Heisman winners and members of the media.
Named for pioneering George Tech coach John Heisman, the award was created in 1935 at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York. (It was named the Downtown Athletic Club trophy the first year but was renamed in 1936, after Heisman's death.)
The Heisman Trophy is not the only top award given to college football players. Other annual awards include the AP Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award, and the Walter Camp Award. The Heisman, however, is the most well-known.
The 25-pound, 13.5-in-tall bronze statue is a replica of a real person, Ed Smith, who was a top player for New York University in 1934. Smith was a high school classmate of Frank Eliscu, the sculptor who designed the statue.
Technically, all college football players are eligible to win the award. However, a list of previous winners reveals that the vast majority are offensive players who play for the most populous and most well-known college programs. In addition, the Heisman winner is almost always a member of a team that has spent the season in contention for the national championship.
Voters state their preferences for first place, second place, and third place. Each first-place vote garners the candidate three points. Second-place votes equate to two points, and third-place votes equal one point. The player who gains the most points wins. The top three vote-getters are invited to a New York ceremony, at which the winner is announced.
Ohio State running back Archie Griffin is the only player to win the award twice, in 1974 as a junior and in 1975 as a senior.
Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson is the only defensive player to win the award, in 1997, although he played in several games as a wide receiver and punt returner and so is considered an offensive and defensive player.
The first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy was Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, in 2007, starting a three-year string of sophomore winners.
Far and away, running backs (41) and quarterbacks (31) are the most prevalent Heisman winners. Two tight ends and two wide receivers have won the award.
Notre Dame and Ohio State boast the most trophies by any one school, with seven. USC is second, with six. (Reggie Bush won the award in 2005, but the school returned it as part of sanctions for breaking rules.) Oklahoma players have won five times.
The Downtown Athletic Club served as the gathering place for the awards ceremony for many years. The club was damaged in the September 11, 2001, attacks, and the ceremony was moved to various locations on Times Square. The location since 2005 is the Best Buy Theater.
The ceremony was first televised in 1977, as a feature during a college football game. Since 1995, the ceremony has been a one-hour televised special.