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Episode 157 – Archie Griffin on the Heisman Trophy and Andy Coppens on Wisconsin’s surprise coaching search

Just a couple of weeks ago I was pleased to be joined by a former Heisman Trophy winner, Doug Flutie. Today I was honored to have the opportunity to speak with the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy in its storied history. Ohio State legend Archie Griffin, winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1974 and 1975 joined me for a chat about the Heisman Trophy and to help spread the word about the Wendy’s High School Heisman Program.

This year’s Heisman Trophy race is down to three finalists; Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. The popular belief is Mariota will be the winner in New York City on Saturday night, but I wanted to get Griffin’s opinion on whether or not the role of runnings backs has become a thing of the past or not. It was interesting to hear Flutie, a quarterback at Boston College, share his opinion on the evolution of the game and how it leans on the passing game and then compare that to what Griffin had to say about how a good running back can still have a key role on a winning team.

This episode made possible with help from the Wendy's High School Heisman.

This episode made possible with help from the Wendy’s High School Heisman.

Griffin won his two Heisman Trophy awards in a span that saw a running back win the award every year from 1972 (Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers) threw 1983 (Nebraska’s Mike Rozier). Throw in Auburn’s Bo Jackson in 1985 and Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders in 1988 and you can start to see the shift in Heisman Trophy momentum shifting toward the quarterbacks starting in 1989 with Houston’s Andre Ware. It is not impossible for running backs to still win the award (Ohio State’s Eddie George, Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne, Alabama’s Mark Ingram and USC’s Reggie Bush all did it), but the quarterbacks today seem to have the edge with the award and that momentum may not be slowing down this season with Mariota the likely winner again this year.

Griffin also talked to me about how young players have a chance to step right in and play a big role with teams. This was still a new concept in Griffin’s days at Ohio State. He was the first freshman to play for the Buckeyes once the rules changed, and he took great pride in being able to win a starting job. We all know he went on to win the Heisman Trophy twice, but as a sophomore Griffin also finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting. In a way, Griffin was a trailblazer for future young stars of the game in college football, including Georgia’s Herschel Walker (“My God, a freshman!”).

(Moving) On (from) Wisconsin

With recent news coming out of the Big Ten on Wednesday with Gary Andersen leaving Wisconsin to accept a coaching offer at Oregon State, I had to reach out to a frequent guest on the podcast for his takes on the Badgers. Andy Coppens of Talking 10 (Facebook, Twitter) and Madtown Badgers (Facebook, Twitter, Fancred) is kind enough to spend some time looking at the recent Big Ten Championship Game and how it helped send Ohio State to the College Football Playoff, why Andersen would leave Wisconsin and where the Badgers go from here.

This episode of the podcast was made possible with the help from the Wendy’s High School Heisman Program. For more information about the program, please visit the program’s official website or check it out on Facebook or Twitter. My thanks to Rachel Brueno of Ketchum Sports & Entertainment for arranging the interview, and of course to Archie Griffin for his insights. Thanks also to Andy Coppens for checking in once again.

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About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.