So Christian McCaffrey officially did not win the Heisman. While Derrick Henry is certainly a worthy winner, a lot of folks out West still think McCaffrey was more deserving, and I am one of those people.
McCaffrey is far from the first Pac-12 player to miss out on the award when he had a case to win it though. Looking through the history books, here are some Pac-12 players I think at least had a strong case to have won over the actual winner.
Here are questionable years in regards to Pac-12 candidates.
2011 - Winner = Robert Griffin III QB Baylor | Pac-12 candidate = Andrew Luck QB Stanford
Many thought Luck was a shoe in for the Heisman after coming close in 2010 to lose out to an epic campaign by Cam Newton but RGIII came out of nowhere to put together a year similar to Cam's and edge out Luck. Griffin had better stats, but Luck did lead his team to a better record and bowl and played in a system that didn't produce numbers as easily as Griffin's did.He also (fair or not) had some help from having a better overall career than Griffin.
My verdict: Fair - Luck to me simply got unlucky and put together deserving campaigns in years where other QBs simply put together better one-season statements like Griffin did here. Griffin had better numbers across the board and leading Baylor to nine-wins was bigger than Luck leading Stanford to 11 wins at the time. The hammering point for Griffin was playing lights out in his November showcase against a Top 5 team against Oklahoma while Luck had his worst game of the season in his November showcase against Top 5 Oregon.
2010 - Winner = Cam Newton QB Auburn | Pac-12 candidates = Andrew Luck QB Stanford & LaMichael James RB Oregon
Luck and James put together years that easily could have won the award a lot of years, but Newton simply put together an all-time great one-off season as he lead Auburn to an undefeated regular season and eventual national championship.I don't think there is much of a case for putting Luck or James ahead of Newton, but they did finish second and third and you could make the argument that maybe one of them should have won the award since there were so many questions about whether Newton had violated rules.
My verdict: Fair - No arguing with Newton's drop the mic season and ultimately there was never any official fallout from Newton's potential violations.
2009 - Winner = Mark Ingram RB Alabama | Pac-12 candidate = Toby Gerhart RB Stanford
Ingram won over Gerhart by a very narrow margin after running for a lot of yards and touchdowns while leading Alabama to an undefeated regular season. Pac-12/Stanford fans were pretty pissed as Gerhart's stats were substantially better than Ingram's.
My verdict: Unfair - Numbers aren't everything, but Gerhart's were better enough than Ingram's to warrant the award and his abilities were more important to Stanford having their breakout season than Ingram's were to Alabama running the table in the regular season.
2001 - Winner = Eric Crouch QB Nebraska | Pac-12 candidate = Joey Harrington QB Oregon
A really weird year that I think resulted in a lot of people tuning out the Heisman. Crouch won the award as an option QB (probably last time that happens) that led Nebraska to the national title game. He narrowly beat out Rex Grossman (ugh) and Ken Dorsey (eh) and fourth place Harrington. Harrington was the heart and soul of Oregon's Pac-12 champion squad and had great overall numbers.
My verdict: Fair - I don't know who exactly deserved the award this year, but Harrington not getting it was not an atrocity. Looking back, he was shockingly unproductive down the stretch for the Ducks (throwing less than 200 yards in 3 of his final 4 and throwing just one TD in those games) and never really had a signature moment against a top team.
1991 winner = Desmond Howard WR Michigan | Pac-12 candidate - Steve Emtman DT Washington
Howard easily won the award with a stellar year for a wide receiver in 1991. His stats were great, Michigan won the Big Ten and he was one of the most-exciting players in the country. Meanwhile, up in the Northwest, Emtman put together one of the best (if not the) best seasons ever put together by a defensive player in college football while leading one of the best defenses in college football history to an undefeated regular season. He finished fourth in the Heisman voting, which is unheard of for a defensive lineman or defensive player in general.
My verdict: Unfair - Emtman was the rare defensive player, let alone, defensive lineman who did enough to win the Heisman. Almost 25 years later, he is the player people remember, his team ended up dominating Howard and his team in the Rose Bowl and the Huskies even had a receiver, Mario Bailey, whose stats were just a hair less impressive than Howard's, but who didn't get a single Heisman vote.
1990 winner = Ty Detmer QB BYU | Pac-12 candidate - Eric Bienemy RB Colorado
Detmer beat out Rocket Ismail by a narrow margin and third place Bienemy by a healthy margin with a statistical monster season where he led BYU to a 10-win season. Bienemy was a workhorse for the Buffs, ran for more than 1,600 yards and scored 17 touchdowns while leading the Buffs to the Orange Bowl.
My verdict: Unfair - Not egregious, but I think Bienemy should have won the award over Detmer (who put numbers with a weak schedule) and Ismail (whose stats are insanely underwhelming).
1975 winner = Archie Griffin RB Ohio State | Pac-12 candidates - Chuck Muncie RB Cal & Ricky Bell RB USC
Griffin got his second Heisman with a 1,400-yard season that helped Ohio State go undefeated in the regular season. On the West Coast, Muncie ran for 1,400 yards as well and 13 touchdowns and Bell ran for more than 1,900 and 13 touchdowns yet were not close to Griffin in the voting.
My verdict: Unfair - Either Bell or Muncie should have won the award or Tony Dorsett. Griffin ran for a lot of yards, but both Pac-12 guys ran for more, but just four touchdowns compared to 13 each from Bell and Muncie. I think Griffin benefited from preseason hype, playing for a better team and not out West.