Category Archives: College Football

Where Are They Now: The Heisman Trophy

heisman trophy

For the past year, the Washington Post‘s Kent Babb has been on an incredible mission: To track down all 78 Heisman trophies that have been awarded to college football’s top performer each year and learn the story behind every single one.

The result is an incredible piece of work that was published today, ahead of the 2013 ceremony that will take place this Saturday in New York City.

Hockey’s ultimate prize, Stanley Cup spends time on yachts, in swimming pools, and serving as a bowl for cereal or other foods and beverages, but has to be returned and reissued each year to the new champion. The Heisman trophy, on the other hand, is just as storied, but it’s the winner’s to keep. As awesome a read as Babb’s article is, the accompanying online component—the actual Heisman by Heisman tracker—is equally as fascinating.

Here are some of the standouts from the 78 trophies, forged at a shop in Del City, Oklahoma and introduced to the spotlight on a stage in New York (blurbs from Babb’s article):

Johnny Manziel, 2012, Texas A&M

Manziel, the first freshman to win college football’s top individual award, traveled often and engaged in frequent adventures during his first offseason as a Heisman winner. As for the trophy itself, it leads a far more peaceful existence, Texas A&M associate athletic director Alan Cannon says. The trophy is on display at Manziel’s grandparents’ home in Tyler, Tex.

Tim Tebow, 2007, Florida

Tebow said his trophy is at his parents’ home in Jacksonville, behind family pictures and photographs from his sister’s wedding — symbolizing, he says, that individual achievements are less important, no matter their significance, than family milestones.

Reggie Bush, 2005, USC

In 2010, Bush agreed to forfeit his Heisman Trophy after details emerged that Bush received improper benefits. USC returned its copy soon after the Heisman Trust sent a custom shipping container to Heritage Hall. Bush, though, took his time, not returning his trophy until late 2011 or early 2012, Heisman coordinator Tim Henning said. The Trust no longer acknowledges Bush as a Heisman winner and is secretive about the trophy’s location. Henning said the trophy has neither been destroyed nor reissued—rather, it’s in a storage unit in the New York City area, alongside portraits and valuables the Trust no longer had room for.

Jason White, 2003, Oklahoma

Years after his trophy was buried under clothes in a closet during his last year at Oklahoma, White’s Heisman now has renewed meaning. Not only does he display the trophy that made him a Sooners legend, White’s Heisman also has a different kind of sentimental value. He said his daughter, Tinley, once steadied herself on the large trophy, standing on her own for the first time.

Danny Wuerffel, 1996, Florida

After Hurricane Katrina badly damaged Wuerffel’s Louisiana home, ruining his furniture and destroying most of his belongings, he says, the only furnishings in his new home were a desk, a chair and the 1996 Heisman — which had been at his parents’ home, away from the storm. He now keeps it on a shelf at his home outside of Atlanta.

Eddie George, 1995, Ohio State

On his way home from the Heisman ceremony, a determined LaGuardia airport security officer stuffed the trophy through the scanner, breaking off one of its fingers. George returned the trophy to the Heisman Trust (which still has the damaged trophy in a storage unit in New York), which sent him a replacement — which rarely leaves George’s home in Nashville.

Ty Detmer, 1990, BYU

Detmer said his Heisman is at his home outside of Austin, where he is now the football coach at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School.

Tim Brown, 1987, Notre Dame

When Brown met with an architect to design his home in DeSoto, Tex., near Dallas, he wanted his Heisman Trophy to be a focal point. So together, they drew up a showcase near the front entrance; past the doorway on the right would be a lighted space for the 1987 Heisman. Then again, most times the showcase is empty. Usually, Brown said, his trophy is in a cabinet at his mother’s house in nearby Duncanville. If Brown hosts friends or important visitors, he retrieves it and adds it to the showcase, but for most of the past 15 years, that custom-designed Heisman alcove has contained no Heisman.

George Rogers, 1980, USC

Rogers’s Heisman has been dropped, scratched, chipped and bent. Before South Carolina games, Rogers stands outside Williams-Brice Stadium, posing for dozens of pictures and allowing anyone with a $5 donation—intoxicated or not—to hold his Heisman. “They always seem to think they can handle it,” he says now. The donations, he said, go to his foundation, which helps first-generation college students pay for school. Shortly before kickoff, Rogers loads his trophy into a large case, lifts it into his SUV, and after the game, returns it to his home in nearby Irmo, where it sits on a shelf near the fireplace.

Charles White, 1979, USC

In 2000, according to reports, White auctioned his Heisman for $184,000 to settle tax debts. The trophy was later resold, reportedly to actor Charlie Sheen, and then to an Arkansas memorabilia collector named John Rogers. Along with several Southern California alumni, Rogers offered to return White’s Heisman if he could make his money back. But learning that White had sold the trophy, Rogers said, the alumni lost interest. Rogers, who admits the effort to return the Heisman was as much a publicity stunt as anything, instead sold the trophy to a buyer who insisted he sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Archie Griffin, 1975, Ohio St.

The ’74 Heisman was Griffin’s first, but the ’75 trophy is his favorite, he said, because no other winner won a second Heisman. Every few years, he sends his trophies to be refinished, where the bronze is polished and the base and nameplate are detailed. “It’s like a good pair of shoes,” Griffin says. “You want to keep them shined and looking good.” Griffin’s second Heisman Trophy is on display at the Ohio State student union, he said. The ’74 trophy, which he occasionally travels with, is on display at the Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill in Columbus.

Johnny Rodgers, 1972, Nebraska

Rodgers and his Heisman travel so often together that he designed a case for the trophy, protecting its most fragile parts and allowing him to carry it on — never with the checked bags—on commercial flights. Other winners noticed, and Rodgers has since presented cases to other members of the Heisman fraternity. When the 1972 Heisman isn’t traveling to South Africa, Canada or points in between, Rodgers keeps it in the case—ready to go at a moment’s notice—at his home in Omaha.

O.J. Simpson, 1968, USC

In 1999, a man named Tom Kriessman, the owner of a small steel company, bid $255,500 for O.J. Simpson’s 1968 Heisman Trophy, which was being auctioned to settle civil-suit debts following the deaths five years earlier of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Kriessman admits now that he made the winning bid to try to impress his then-girlfriend. “It sort of snowballed,” he said. Fourteen years later, Kriessman said he has matured past such impulse and showmanship; he now keeps the Heisman in a safety deposit box at a bank in Philadelphia. It’s not only far out of view; he says many of his closest friends have no idea he owns one of the most infamous trophies in American sports history.

Gary Beban, 1967, UCLA

Although Beban keeps his original trophy in the study of his Northbrook, Ill., home, alongside several other trophies and business materials, years ago he requested that the Heisman Trust have a duplicate cast and sent to Kennedy Middle School in Redwood City, Calif., where Beban once attended. The school has a Wall of Fame, and the duplicate copy of Beban’s Heisman is the display’s centerpiece.

Steve Spurrier, 1966, Florida

When Spurrier won the 1966 Heisman, he donated it to the University of Florida. Although the story goes that Spurrier left the trophy in Gainesville as a show of thanks to the program that made him a legend, in truth, the notoriously honest Spurrier said, he just didn’t want to lug the heavy trophy from stop to stop during his NFL career. Decades later, the national-title-winning coach keeps his Heisman in his office in the Floyd Football Building, an annex at the University of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium.

John Huarte, 1964, Notre Dame

Huarte’s wife, Eileen, said they decided years ago that they didn’t want the Heisman Trophy in their home, so they loaned it to Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., where Huarte is an alumnus. Eileen Huarte said her husband hoped it might inspire other children to chase their dreams.

Ernie Davis, 1961, Syracuse

After Davis’s death at age 23 following a fight with leukemia, his mother donated his Heisman Trophy — historic as the first awarded to an African American — to Syracuse. Although it was stolen and then returned in 1976, assistant athletic director Sue Edson said it’s now on display at the Carrier Dome, where the Orange plays football and basketball.

Paul Hornung, 1956, Notre Dame

Hornung said he sold his Heisman years ago, adding that he uses the money to put two students through Notre Dame each year. After all, he says, the trophy had been just sitting in his garage for most of the its lifetime. The buyer of Hornung’s trophy also bought Larry Kelley’s 1936 Heisman, and they’re both on display at The Stadium, a roadside restaurant and sports museum in Garrison, N.Y.

Howard Cassady, 1955, Ohio St.

Cassady’s wife, Barbara, said the 1955 Heisman Trophy is at their home on Davis Islands, Fla., often under close watch. In the early 1980s, the trophy was stolen along with several other awards. Apparently unaware of the Heisman’s value, the burglar was melting down the gold and silver in Cassady’s other trophies, and had tossed the Heisman in a garbage can. A sanitation worker noticed a bronze arm sticking out the bin and alerted authorities, Barbara said. Despite minor damage, the trophy was returned to Cassady, and as a result, it now spends part of its time in a safe.

Johnny Lattner, 1953, Notre Dame

The most mobile Heisman, Lattner loans his trophy—the second one he was issued after his original was destroyed in a fire—to raise money for charities. Although its permanent residence is the Oak Park, Ill., home of Lattner’s daughter (a short walk from the winner’s Melrose Park home), his Heisman is just as likely to be on temporary display in a bar, restaurant or school, or whomever is willing to bid the highest to live for a few days or weeks like a Heisman winner.

Doak Walker, 1948, SMU

The 1948 Heisman has spent its years on the move, first in a Denver sports bar, then at a ski shop in Steamboat Springs, hidden among the sweaters. Customers often suggested the trophy was a fake, and Walker—who worked at the shop part-time—jokingly told the unsuspecting customers that Walker occasionally visited the shop, never letting on that he was the former SMU legend. The Heisman later wound up on the mantel, behind skiing trophies, in the shop owner’s home. After Walker’s death, it moved to a nearby library. It has since returned to Dallas, and, according to Walker’s daughter, Laurie, is now on display at the Old Red Courthouse Museum near Dealey Plaza.

Frank Sinkwich, 1942, Georgia

Decades ago, Sinkwich donated his Heisman Trophy to the University of Georgia, a move senior associate athletic director Claude Felton says led in part to the Heisman Trust issuing two trophies: one to the winner and another to his school. After Georgia received its copy, Sinkwich retook possession of his original. The winner’s grandson, Frank Sinkwich III, says the family maintains possession of his late grandfather’s Heisman, in Athens, Ga.

Larry Kelley, 1936, Yale

In 2000, Kelley removed his Heisman Trophy from its longtime perch on his mantel, turning it over to its new owner after selling it for $328,100. Kelley said at the time that he planned to divide the proceeds among his 18 nieces and nephews. Four months later, Kelley committed suicide. In the years since, according to a 2009 story in the Newark Star-Ledger, Kelley’s widow, Mary Ruth, has decorated the mantel with pictures of family and holiday cards—including each year a Christmas card from the family of James Walsh, who bought Kelley’s Heisman and says he now displays it at The Stadium, his restaurant and memorabilia museum in Garrison, N.Y.

Jay Berwanger, 1935, Chicago

Years after using the first Heisman Trophy as a doorstop—its rectangular base and nameplate are smaller than those awarded today, but the bronze statue is identical—the first of what became sports’ most prestigious award now sits in a more appropriate location. It is displayed in the center of the rotunda foyer at the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center on the University of Chicago campus.

Video

Les Miles Loves Thanksgiving

Bring on the feast.

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The Ohio State Marching Band Celebrated ‘Murica On Saturday

osu marching band

I love these guys and gals.

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ESPN’s Surprise-Returns Video Speaks for Itself This Veterans Day

In Defense of the Bandwagoner

Let's not be so hostile to those trying to climb aboard.

Let’s not be so hostile to those trying to climb aboard. (Photo via Gridiron Goddess)

Any good sports fan can spot one, even if they were a mile away, wearing an eye mask, five sheets to the wind, and having just finished a game of dizzy bat (though none of that sounds like a good idea in any sort of way). Bandwagon fans stand out like a black eye. But why all of the hate?

In just the last 24 hours I’ve seen such harsh things written on the Twitters and Facebook about fair-weather fans—namely those in Boston (after the Red Sox clinched their 3rd World Series in the last decade) and the Philly (the upstart 76ers knocked off the Miami Heat last night). True, die-hard, loyal fans went above and beyond their “call of duty” to put down anyone who showed any amount of excitement about either team winning, and who they were absolutely positive was not a “real fan” of either team.

For anyone who partook in those shenanigans, I hope you’re reading, and listen closely: Stop it. Ripping on bandwagon fans makes you look like a jackass. Just let those “fake fans” enjoy whatever moment it is they want to revel in, and look the other way. They’re not hurting you. They’re not hurting your team. They should have little to no impact on your daily life as a fan, and how invested you are in your team. If anything, you should be proud and excited that other people—especially those born and raised in the same town as you—want to support and throw some passion behind the same thing you do (that sounded dirty, but I’m alright with it, and you catch my drift).

A few things to consider about bandwagon fans, that maybe could change how maliciously you act towards them.

1. Just because they don’t post social media updates after every inning, or bucket, or goal, or huge hit, doesn’t mean they’re not as big of a fan as you.

Lots and lots and lots of people use social media in lots and lots and lots of different ways. Some go way overboard with the things they post or how frequently the share things (I’m usually guilty of this), and others will make an update once in a blue moon. The Red Sox winning the World Series might’ve given people in the latter group cause to come out of the wood works and share in the moment of celebration. A huge win over the defending NBA champs might’ve given people in Philly a reason to get excited for a hot minute about the Sixers. I haven’t said much about the Flyers on Facebook, Twitter, or this blog during the first few weeks of the season—frankly because there hasn’t been much of anything nice to say—but that doesn’t make me a fair-weather Flyers fan. Every time I get a text from ESPN about a blown lead and eventually a loss, it still hurts. It hurts because I’m a fan. Bottom line: Don’t judge someone’s level of fandom by their social media engagement.

2. Yes, there absolutely are different levels of fandom, and as long as a bandwagoner isn’t a “bad fan” then I have no problem with them.

Every team in every city throughout the globe has a wide range of fans. You’ve got your die-hards who literally live and slowly die with their teams and show up to 90-100% of the games (home and away), and can recite the team’s entire roster down to the 7th bench player’s height, weight, wing span, where he went to school, what he majored in, and what his shooting percentage is in the 4th quarter with his team down by 1 with less than 10 seconds left on the clock. (These are mostly your beat reporters, retired old men, and the unemployed.) Then there’s your passionate fans who stay in tune with a team and follow them throughout the season, occasionally go to games and can hold a conversation. Casual fans (where most “bandwagoners” probably legitimately fall) know who the all stars are, they understand the game for the most part, and know how to have a good time if and when you take them to a game—but they don’t pretend to know everything about everyone like you, you die-hard Yankees-addict. Then we all know what a true bandwagoner is—the guy (or gal) who goes out and buys the championship t-shirt, their first piece of team apparel, and wears it for the next week. But hey, that’s more money to the organization, and as long as they aren’t showing up to games and causing a scene (like intentionally vomiting on people, or kicking girls in the face) who cares what they do? Embrace those folks, catch them up to speed, and convert them to die-hards.

We all had to become fans at some point. Sure they’re late to the party, but why are you going to try and shun them away and prevent them from having a good time? I’m a fan of that cliche, ‘The more the merrier.’ A packed Citizens Bank Park filled with 45,000 bandwagoners is a much better atmosphere than barely 10,000 unhappy, pissed off, grumpy ass die-hards. Invite those people into the “in” crowd and celebrate the fact that your team has a whole host of new fans.

3. Can bandwagoners be annoying? Sure. You know, deep down, that you were there through thick and thin, but crying about it only makes you seem like a douche.

Not much more I can say beyond that. Just know that whenever you complain about fair-weather fans, you’re just making yourself look like a fool. If you know in your heart that you are a real fan, that’s great for you. There’s no need to act all tough behind a keyboard (no, the irony is not lost on me here). You just sound all whiny and childish. “This was my team first! I love them more than you, and there’s no way you’ll ever be as big a fan as me! I have a different jersey I can put on for each day of the month. And they’re all authentic replicas that I spent my last seven paychecks on. How many jerseys do you have, (and t-shirt jerseys count for negative one)? Huh? HUH!?!? How many losses did you agonize through? How many dates with real girls did you pass up on so you could make it to each game of that big weekend series against the Mets? How many times have you sat in the 700 Level with the real fans? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Go back to being a fake fan, you fake fan, you.”

You with me?

I get that people are going to get passionate and want to act all macho about big of a fan they are, and they want to prove to themselves and others that they are, by far, the biggest fan in the world, but who are you really benefiting? Your ego? Maybe, but that’s all. People are going to be their own kind of fan at their own pace that they’re comfortable with, and everyone else should learn to respect that.

At the very least, learn to ignore those who you think are fair-weather in nature, and refrain from making yourself look ridiculous.

[Steps down from soapbox.]

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Ohio State’s Marching Band is Going Viral, Again

If you haven’t seen this already, please take the time to treat yourself to Ohio State’s marching band paying tribute to Michael Jackson during halftime of the school’s game against Iowa on Saturday. The entire thing is a great, but if you’re crunched on time, the real fun starts at around the 4:15 mark.

The video is already up around 400,000 views at the time of this posting, and should climb higher as it’s been featured on news sites all across the interwebs.

This isn’t the first time the group has been able to grab a slice of internet fame with their halftime performances, either. Earlier this year the group paid tribute to Disney at halftime during their game against Buffalo…

…and back in October of 2012, the group put on quite the spectacle, playing video game music and getting into some incredible formations.

And who says being in a marching band isn’t cool as shit? Dorky? Absolutely, but cool. as. shit.

Government Shutdown: Please, God, Not the Kids!

Sports are holy ground for many. But that doesn’t make them immune from the unholy, dysfunctional mess that is the U.S. Government.

When Congress failed to act and pass a budget continuing resolution to keep the government running, Washington was forced to shut its doors. National parks, monuments, museums, the whole kit and kaboodle. And for those who thought sports would be a place where they could turn their attention to forget about the giant steaming pile of feces on top of the Hill, well, think again.

The Defense Department announced on Tuesday that it has suspended travel for the intercollegiate athletic competitions (i.e. college sports programs) at the nation’s service academies (i.e. Army, Navy, and Air Force) for the duration of the government shutdown—however long that may last, no one really knows.

While the gravity of cancelling a few sporting events pales in comparison to the some 800,000 federal workers who are being furloughed, the message that this sends to the student-athletes is not so different. (I’m not going to turn this into a political blog, so I’ll let you determine that message for yourself.)

With the college football season in full swing, this obviously has an immediate impact on several games that were scheduled months ago. The first is the Navy-Air Force game that was scheduled for this weekend in Annapolis, Maryland. The game was to be the first of the season that goes toward the academies’ quest for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, and was sold out well in advance.

A statement on Navy’s athletics site reads: “The Naval Academy will cancel contests as appropriate and notification on Saturday’s football game against Air Force will be made public prior to 12 noon on Thursday. Tonight’s soccer game against Howard has been cancelled. It is not known at this time if the game will be made up or not.”

Also impacted is the Army-Boston College game scheduled for this weekend. No decision has been made there either, and in a statement to ESPN, BC athletic director Brad Bates said the schools are exploring every possible avenue to avoid a cancellation. “We have been in close communication with Army athletics officials regarding the potential impact of the government shutdown on this Saturday’s football game. Obviously our intention is to exhaust all possibilities to play the game and we will communicate the information promptly as soon as we have resolution.”

Also, according to ESPN, the Air Force Academy said it would try to play all of its home games,  but that it was working with the Mountain West Conference officials and other schools to reschedule games that were away from the school. Meanwhile, the Defense Department has said that no games will be played while the government is shut down.

A complete and total disgrace.