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Notre Dame Football’s faded Heisman Trophy glory

What was once synonymous with the Irish is now a distant memory.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Heisman Trophy used to be a thing. As a fan of the Irish, there’s no way you didn’t know that Notre Dame has 7 Heisman Trophy winners. You used to be able to say, “more than any other school in the country” but that certainly isn’t the case anymore.

  • The Oklahoma Sooners claim 7 Heismans after Kyler Murray’s win in 2018. It was an incredible 4th Heisman for Oklahoma since 2003. All four were Sooner quarterbacks.
  • The Ohio State Buckeyes claim 7 trophies with 6 different winners. Some Irish fans took solace in that “6” as if it actually meant something “less than” but that’s a pretty crude way to look at it as far as I’m concerned.
  • The USC Trojans also have 7 Heisman winners. Yes, yes... Reggie Bush gave the trophy back, but I am unable to unsee what I saw. It was an incredible season that resulted in a win per votes.

Over the past 31 years, Notre Dame has lost the aura that surrounded itself and the Heisman. It’s not as if the Irish have completely disappeared from the conversation, but that conversation is no longer dominated by their iron grip on the award.

2012 Heisman Trophy Presentation Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

When Cam Newton of the Auburn Tigers won it in 2010, it represented the longest stretch of years (23) that Notre Dame went without winning the award since their first Heisman winner Angelo Bertelli in 1943. During this current stretch of 31 years, Notre Dame has had two players finish #2 in the voting with Raghib Ismail in 1989 and Manti Te’o in 2012.

Maybe the Heisman doesn’t mean what it once did. Ever since the college football playoffs were introduced, there does seem to be less and less Heisman talk or hype or promotion. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but maybe it means that college fans were tired of debating the award in the first week of October, and are now more inclined to do something more insane in September and discuss “who’s in” for the playoffs.

Notre Dame has one Heisman in the past 55 years. The Irish can still boast the 7 Heismans as “tied for the most” quite proudly. The simple fact, however, is that the award that was synonymous with Notre Dame for a long stretch of time — simply isn’t the same as is once was.

It’s never easy to look back and see history slipping away, but that’s exactly what’s happening here with Notre Dame and the Heisman Trophy. If the Irish could somehow bring the award home over the next few years to finally get that 8th win (as long as Oklahoma, Ohio State, and even USC don’t win) then this whole article can be thrown in the trash. As it is however, there doesn’t appear to be many players on the roster that can or will rise to the occasion (which is pretty typical for even the best programs out there).

It’s a faded glory when it comes to Notre Dame and the Heisman. The trophies really do feel like ancient history in 2019. There is just enough recency for the empty years to sting a bit, but the Heisman race just doesn’t feel or look the same as it once did.


Notre Dame: 1993 National Champions

  • $28

Notre Dame ACTUALLY lays claim to 21 national championships. 1993 was the last one — celebrate it!

Navy and gold print on a super-comfortable gray tee.Premium, lightweight tri-blend crewneck (50% polyester, 25% combed ring-spun cotton, 25% rayon). Durable, yet ultra-soft. Unisex sizing with a snug fit. Men should size up; women should size down.

Designed by Nick Torres.

Screened in the USA.