Heisman Winners and the National Championship

Trivia question: How many players have won the Heisman Trophy and an Associated Press or Bowl Championship Series title in the same season? Think about this one for a moment. By definition, the Heisman is meant to reward college football’s most outstanding player, not the best player on the nation’s best team. And, by and large, the Heisman has maintained that separation throughout its history — though critics of the award’s recent history may claim otherwise (see below).

In support of the Heisman, only 11 recipients have ever finished their season undefeated and untied; in comparison, the trophy has once been awarded to a player with a losing record (Paul Hornung, 2-8 at Notre Dame in 1956) and five times been given to a player whose team finished with four losses (Jay Berwanger, 4-4 at Chicago in 1935; Steve Owens, 6-4 at Oklahoma in 1969; George Rogers, 8-4 at South Carolina in 1980; Bo Jackson, 8-4 at Auburn in 1985; and Tim Brown, also 8-4 at Notre Dame in 1987).