Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Heisman Day

No, today is NOT the day that the Heisman trophy is awarded to some very successful NCAA football player. To day is the birth date of John Heisman, after whom the trophy is named. John Heisman was born this day wa~ay back in 1869. He started coaching in 1900 at Clemson University, and moved to Georgia Tech four seasons later. He also coached at University of Pennsylvania for one season and one season in Washington and Jefferson College before completing his final four seasons at Rice University.

So, why is John Heisman so famous? It wasn't only because of the now-coveted trophy that bears his name. John revolutionized the game during his career, creating many of the things we take for granted today including the backward hike (it was originally rolled or kicked backward, like in rugby) and was a major proponent of legalizing the forward pass (yes, it had originally been illegal, like in rugby). However, what we remember him most for today is his name and that trophy. However, throughout the majority of John's coaching career, the "Heisman Trophy" didn't exist.

The Heisman Trophy started out as an award given out by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City (to where John had retired) to the best football player east of the Mississippi River. Two months after John Heisman's death in 1936, the trophy was renamed the Heisman Trophy in his honor. It is now awarded to the best NCAA football player in a season.

Now, as of this writing, Michigan has only won the trophy three times:
The University of Michigan's major rivals (Ohio State University and Notre Dame University) have each won the trophy seven times. This year, however, UMich has a very strong candidate in Mike Hart.

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