Posted: 1:43 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, 2013
By Adam Waters
The Ohio State University has been playing football since 1890 and during that span they've have had some pretty good running backs come through. The Buckeyes have six Heisman winners (seven total trophies) in their storied history and out of those six winners, five come from the running back position. The tradition started back in 1944 with Les Horvath, who after gaining 1,200 all purpose yards received 412 points in the vote to earn the award. To this day, Horvath is the only winner to have not played college football the season before winning. Six years later Vic Janowicz won it as a junior followed by Hopalong Cassady five seasons after that. Since Cassady, the Buckeyes have won four more Heisman Trophies: 1995, by Eddie George, and the first ever Buckeye quarterback to win the award in Troy Smith. But out of all those winners, none are in the same class as Archie Griffin, who won the award in 1974 and 1975 making him famously the only two time winner in the award's history.
Griffin came to Ohio State out of nearby Eastmoor High School in Columbus, where as a senior rushed for more than 1,700 yards and 29 touchdown helping lead the Warriors to a City League championship. Griffin, who was thought to be too small for the college game almost picked Northwestern over the Buckeyes. As a freshman it didn't take long for Archie to put his stamp on Ohio State football; he rushed for a first year record 239 yards against North Carolina. As we all know greater things were yet to come for Archie as he finished his freshman year with 867 yards and his sophomore year with 1,577 yards and a fifth place finish in the Heisman voting. The next two season Archie would go onto rush for 3,145 yards along with 16 total touchdowns, earning the Heisman Trophy following the 1974 and 1975 seasons. To this day Archie remains the only two time winner, and one of two players to ever start in four Rose Bowls, the other being Southern Cal's Brian Cushing.
Archie would go on to play for the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL and the Jacksonville Bulls of the USFL, where he would rush for over 2,800 yards and 7 career touchdown. After Griffin's football days where over, he returned to Ohio State, and served as the assistant athletic directors. Today Mr. Griffin now serves as the President and CEO of The Ohio State University Alumni Association. Along with being the CEO of the Alumni Association, Griffin is also the spokesman for the Wendy's High School Heisman award program.
The High School Heisman celebrates high school seniors across the country not only for athletics, but community leadership and academic excellence as well. Each year there are two national award winners, one male and one female. The schools of those student-athletes receive a $10,000 monetary award and the two student-athletes themselves receive a $500 Wendy's gift card. The deadline for the high school seniors to apply is October 2nd. For more information about the program and application process, you can visit their official website.
I was lucky enough to sit down and talk with Ohio State legend and chat about the 2013 Buckeyes, and what the life of a Heisman Trophy winner is like.
You've been asked this probably hundreds of times but what is it like to still be the only two time Heisman winner in the history of the award?
It is an honor, it is a wonderful honor to have. But at the same time Adam, I understand and know that somewhere down the line someone else will win it twice. I have been saying that for a long time that someone else will win it twice; I'm not sure when it is going to happen, but it will happen. I feel fortune I was at the right place with the right people at Ohio State to make it happen. I played with some great teams during my time at OSU and under a great coach like Coach Woody Hayes, the whole team made it possible for me to win the award with the success we had as a team.
You have had a chance now to see the Ohio State newcomers. Are there any freshman that you think that have shown maybe flashes of potential to be Heisman type candidates down the road?
I think there is some truly outstanding young men playing at Ohio State right now, with our young backs in Elliott and Wilson. Getting to see so much of Elliot during the FAMU game last weekend, it was just a glimpse of what he is going to be able to do at Ohio State. And every time Wilson touches the ball we should all be thankful that he could take it all the way at any time. I am excited about what we have coming. It is going to be fun to watch these young men play the game.
With 24/7 social media/news cycles, what are the sentiments of fellow Heisman winners about some of the attention Heisman winner Johnny Manziel has been receiving off the field? Is it something where you guys will try to reach out and mentor him on and does that impact your perception of him as a possible candidate this season?
I am sure there is some sort of impact that it is going to have on him with the hiccups that he has had. But the fact is he is a great football player and has done a terrific job for Texas A&M; on the football field and some voters will just look at that. But there are also voters who will consider the full package and look at other things that go along with playing football. I personally have not had the opportunity to talk to Johnny this summer. I was able to have a good talk with him and his family last season at the ceremony. It is just different now with social media being what is it and the 24-hour coverage of sports on TV and radio. My advise would to him would be to really think about what you're doing; you not only represent yourself, but your family and the school you go to.
We are only through four weeks of college football, but has there been some guys that have stuck out and are making a strong case of consideration for the Heisman?
Well it looks like right now it's going to be one of the guys everyone was talking about. You have Manziel, Mariota, and the quarterback at Alabama in McCarron. There are several quarterback as well in Tajh Boyd and Bridgewater that are making their cases as well. One of the guys I have been really impressed with is Florida State's Jameis Winston. The times I have been able to watch him, the guy's completion percentage has been through the roof. It just really seems like it is going to be a quarterback race, with a running back possibly sneaking into the picture. Football is one of those games that anybody can come out of nowhere and win it like Johnny did last season.
We are now in year two of Urban Meyer era, what are your thought on the direction of the program under his stewardship?
You definitely can't criticize it because were are undefeated under Urban Meyer and its incredible that we have won 16 straight games and hopefully that will continue. When Urban Meyer came into Ohio State the expectations were extremely high, and he has lived up to that. He is a guy that has already won two national championships, and he came into Ohio State with fans wanting success and they have gotten that. The expectations are going to always be extremely high.
With EA Sports and CLC's settlement with the O'Bannon lawsuit, it once again raises the student-athlete/compensation issue. How do you see this matter playing out and what do you think is the best way for the NCAA and its member institutions to handle it?
Speaking personally, I think the NCAA and the member institutions really, really need to realize this is a new day. They need to realize athletes see what is going on around them. They see coaches getting the million dollar contracts, and they see the big Taj Mahals being built and they see the prices of a ticket to watch college football and basketball games. They are also getting the same injuries the pro players get and they do expect a little bit more. The least they should receive is the cost-of-attendance, which other students on scholarships do get. That would be a couple hundred dollars more a month they would get and I definitely don't have any problems with them receiving that.
With the Buckeyes off to a 4-0 start and the Badgers coming to town this weekend, what do you think it is going to take for the Ohio State to get the win and keep the hopes of a national title alive?
Well I think we are going to have to play tremendous defense. The Badgers are very strong with the running game they possess with White and Gordon. These guys are terrific running back. I watched them last year versus Nebraska in the Big Ten title game and they had three guys get over 100 yards. When it comes to offense, we need to put the ball in the end-zone. Wisconsin is a very physical team and they are going to pound you. I think it is a good thing we have Braxton Miller back this week. I think he's very excited about being back out there for a game, but it is also important that we have a quality player like Kenny G, just incase of an injury. Just hope Kenny keeps that same attitude that he has always had coming off the bench, and there is no reason to think that will change.
Could you please tell our readers a little more about the Wendy's Heisman Award and what is it like to be the spokesman for such a great organization?
First of all, I am delighted to be the spokesman for the Wendy's High School Heisman award. It started in 1994 and was started by Dave Thomas the founder of Wendy's because we wanted to recognize the outstanding accomplishments by high school seniors that were doing great things in the class room, on the field of play, and through community service. If you put all of those great things together, you have yourself a well rounded high school student-athlete, and that is what the award is all about. I want to urge teachers, coaches, counselors and even student-athlete to apply for the award or nominate someone at your school that is deserving. Over the 20 years we have been doing this, we have recognized over 400,000 student-athletes and I am truly honored to be part of this great program.
We'd like to again thank Archie Griffin for taking the time and talking about the 2013 Buckeyes and all things college football.