Last week, EA Sports asked us to write about one Heisman Trophy winner you'd like to have on your team. I went with Mark Ingram, while many of you had good suggestions in the comments. This week, we look at a snub.
MSU has never won a Heisman Trophy, but came close a few times. In 1957, running back Walt Kowalczyk finished third in the voting behind Texas A&M running back John David Crow and Iowa defensive back Alex Karras. In 1963, running back Sherman Lewis finished third in the voting as the top running back, behind Navy quarterback Roger Staubach and Georgia Tech quarterback Billy Lothridge.
But I'm going to go with a Spartan who finished fourth. Running back Lorenzo White finished fourth in the voting twice: 1985 and 1987. But it was his sophomore season of '85 where White was most-deserving.
1. Bo Jackson (RB, Auburn) - 1,509 points
2. Chuck Long (QB, Iowa) - 1,464 points
3. Robbie Bosco (QB, BYU) - 459 points
4. Lorenzo White (RB, MSU) - 391 points
Now, looking at how the voting broke down, it wouldn't appear that White was even close. At the top, it was the closest vote in history, at the time. But let's take a look at the stats.
Jackson - 278 att, 1,786 yards, 6.4 avg, 17 TD
Long - 231-for-351, 2,978 yards, 26 TD, 15 INT
Bosco - 338-for-511, 4,273 yards, 30 TD, 24 INT
White - 386 att, 1,908 yards, 4.9 avg, 17 TD
At the time, White's 1,908 yards were the fourth-most in NCAA history and most ever by a sophomore. The 173.5 yards per game were the seventh-most all-time. He rushed for at least 200 yards four times, including 286 against Indiana.
While Jackson had a much better yards-per-carry, the number of carries White had can be looked at as a good and bad thing. White still holds the record for total carries in consecutive games with 102 (53 vs. Purdue, 49 vs. Minnesota. Both were MSU wins by four and five points, respectively).
Of course, there are always outside factors. Jackson's Auburn team was ranked No. 2 to start the year and reached No. 1 at one point. Iowa began the season ranked No. 5, also reached No. 1 and won the Big Ten championship. BYU had an 11-2 regular season and was ranked No. 9. On the other hand, MSU finished with a 7-4 regular season, although it took a Long touchdown on fourth down with less than a minute to play for the No. 1 Hawkeyes to beat the Spartans.
Another factor: White was just a sophomore. Remember, Tim Tebow in 2007 was the first sophomore to ever win the trophy (followed by Sam Bradford and Ingram). Until recently, the award voters often took a player's career into account. The three players that finished ahead of White were seniors with spectacular careers. Long was a fifth-year senior.
You could argue that White's career and MSU's Big Ten championship were reasons he finished so high in 1987.
In the end, Jackson is remembered as one of the greatest athletes in sports history, and his Heisman Trophy is one of is many great accomplishments. But a strong case can be made that it should have been White and MSU's trophy that year.
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