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.
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 HEISMAN VOTING
- 1938 – Whitney Beinor, 9th (1st Davey O’Brian, TCU Horned Frogs)
- 1943 – Angelo Bertelli, 1st, Creighton Miller, 4th, Jim White, 9th
- 1944 – Bob Kelly, 6th (1st Les Horvath, Ohio State)
- 1945 – Frank Dancewicz, 6th (1st Doc Blanchard, Army Black Knights)
- 1947 – Johnny Lujack, 1st
- 1949 – Leon Hart, 1st, Bob Williams, 5th, Emil Sitko, 8th
- 1950 – Bob Williams, 6th (1st Vic Janowicz, Ohio State)
- 1953 – Johnny Lattner, 1st
- 1954 – Ralph Guglielmi, 4th (1st Alan Ameche, Wisconsin Badgers)
- 1956 – Paul Hornung, 1st
- 1958 – Nick Pietrosante, 10th (1st Pete Dawkins, Army Black Knights)
- 1959 – Monty Stickles, 9th (1st Billy Cannon, LSU Tigers)
- 1964 – John Huarte, 1st, Jack Snow, 5th
- 1965 – Bill Wolski, 11th (1st Mike Garrett, USC)
- 1966 – Nick Eddy, 3rd, Terry Hanratty, 6th (1st Steve Spurrier, Florida Gators)
- 1967 – Terry Hanratty, 9th (1st Gary Beban, UCLA Bruins)
- 1968 – Terry Hanratty, 3rd (1st O.J. Simpson, USC)
- 1969 – Mike McCoy, 6th (1st Steve Owens, Oklahoma)
- 1970 – Joe Theismann, 2nd (1st Jim Plunkett, Stanford Cardinal)
- 1971 – Walt Patulski, 9th (1st Pat Sullivan, Auburn)
- 1974 – Tom Clements, 4th (1st Archie Griffin, Ohio State)
- 1975 – Steve Niehaus, 12th (1st Archie Griffin, Ohio State)
- 1977 – Ken MacAfee, 3rd, Ross Browner, 5th (1st Earl Campbell, Texas Longhorns)
- 1979 – Vagas Ferguson, 5th (1st Charles White, USC)
- 1983 – Allen Pinkett, 16th (1st Mike Rozier, Nebraska Cornhuskers)
- 1985 – Allen Pinkett, 8th (1st Bo Jackson, Auburn)
- 1987 – Tim Brown, 1st
- 1989 – Tony Rice, 4th, Raghib Ismail, tie 10th (1st Andre Ware, Houston Cougars)
- 1990 – Raghib Ismail, 2nd (1st Ty Detmer, BYU Cougars)
- 1992 – Reggie Brooks, 5th (1st Gino Toretta, Miami-Florida Hurricanes)
- 2005 – Brady Quinn, 4th (1st Reggie Bush, USC)
- 2006 – Brady Quinn, 3rd (1st Troy Smith, Ohio State)
- 2009 – Golden Tate, 10th (1st Mark Ingram, Alabama Crimson Tide)
- 2012 – Manti Te’o, 2nd (1st Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M Aggies)