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:
- 1940: Tom Harmon
- 1991: Desmond Howard
- 1997: Charles Woodson (the first primarily defensive player to win it).