Tonight, either Jayden Daniels, Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr. or Marvin Harrison Jr. will become the 86th young man to win the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious award in college football and arguably the biggest in all of North American sports. If you're declared the Heisman winner, your name is etched in college football history forever, but I'm here to tell you that the voters don't always get the vote right. Particularly, over the last 25 years, there are five instances where I strongly believe the voters snubbed the worthy winner. What are those five instances, you ask?

Hey, I'm glad you inquired!


Winner: Chris Weinke (QB, Florida State) 

Who Should've Won: LaDainian Tomlinson (RB, TCU – 4th Place) 

Yes, in 2000, Florida State Seminoles quarterback Chris Weinke led the NCAA in passing yards and was second in passing touchdowns. In addition, Weinke was coming off of a BCS Championship in 1999, and he had led the Noles to another BCS Championship Game in 2000. It even worked to Weinke's benefit that he was 28 years old during the 2000 season. It made his candidacy interesting and quirky and gave him a narrative boost that no other player on the ballot had because they were all nearly a decade younger. But all of this isn't enough for me to feel like Weinke is the player who should've won the Heisman Trophy.

That distinction belongs to TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who finished fourth in the voting. Tomlinson finished the 2000 season as the NCAA's leading rusher for the second consecutive year and was second in total touchdowns, and they weren't just empty stats. TCU finished the season with a 10-2 record, their first 10+ win season since 1938, and Tomlinson's fingerprints were all over it. Tomlinson ran the ball 369 times. All season long, TCU only attempted 183 passes. Do some quick math, and you'll see that Tomlinson ran the ball twice as many times as TCU threw the ball. But hey, why even throw the ball when you've got LT running it for six yards a pop.

Tomlinson didn't have the traditional “Heisman Moment” in a marquee game, but I just wanna give you a rundown of his biggest games of the year, because they look like video game numbers.

41-14 win vs. Northwestern – 39 attempts, 243 yards, 2 touchdowns

47-14 win vs. UTEP – 33 attempts, 303 yards, 3 touchdowns

41-21 win vs. Hawaii – 49 attempts, 294 yards, 4 touchdowns

49 rushing attempts!? What the hell even is that? I wouldn't give my running back 49 carries if I was playing Madden. It would feel almost inhumane. Not for Tomlinson. LT ran 40+ times in three different games in 2000.

TCU finished the regular season ranked 13th in the country and Tomlinson (and a solid Horned Frogs defense) was the reason why.


Winner: Reggie Bush (RB, USC) 

Who Should've Won: Vince Young (QB, Texas – 2nd Place) 

Reggie Bush and the USC Trojans were the NCAA's premier powerhouse in the mid-00's. In 2004, Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart won the Heisman Trophy and Bush finished 5th in the voting. Then, in 2005, as USC was vying for another National Title, Bush was 1st in the Heisman voting and Leinart finished third. Sandwiched between them was the rightful winner, Texas quarterback Vince Young.

Let me share with you one of my favorite things in the world to do: Just about once a year, I'll see a tweet where someone says that the NCAA should give Reggie Bush his Heisman Trophy back, which is a sentiment I would wholeheartedly support if I didn't believe that Bush won a trophy that belonged to Vince Young in the first place. And like a total jerk, I always quote tweet this and make my snarky comment, because I will go to the grave believing that Vince Young was absolutely robbed in 2005. VY finished the season with 3,026 passing yards, 26 passing touchdowns and an additional 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground for the team that was ranked 2nd from the opening AP Poll to the National Championship Game.

Of course, Young would get his redemption in the BCS National Championship Game, when he went into USC's backyard and put together a performance for the ages in the Rose Bowl. Texas beat USC 41-38, and Vince Young was rightfully named the game's Most Valuable Player after totaling 467 yards of offense and three total touchdowns. VY made damn sure that Reggie Bush wasn't going to steal that award from him too.


Winner: Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama) 

Who Should've Won: Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska – 4th Place) 

The 2009 Heisman Trophy race was like a high-stakes Presidential Election, only if there were four candidates and the fate of democracy wasn't hanging in the balance. But I do remember during the ESPN broadcast, one analyst standing by a board with the United States map, pointing out each of the regions of voters and speculating what player would win which specific region with the same level of focus that Lester Holt gives on election night. Maybe I made all of this up in my head, or maybe it was a Heisman vote worth devoting that sort of attention to.

It was the tightest vote in the history of the award, and there were four players who legitimately could've taken the trophy home. The winner, Alabama running back Mark Ingram, was one of those four players, and at the time, I thought he was the 3rd-most deserving of the distinction. Ingram was the best player on an Alabama team that won the BCS Championship, but that shouldn't have netted him the win when he was up against a more prolific running back (Toby Gerhart), the quarterback for the #2 team in the country (Colt McCoy), and the single most dominant defensive player I've ever seen at the college level, Ndamukong Suh.

Ndamukong Suh should've won the Heisman Trophy in '09, and I think that there's a good chance that had Nebraska managed to upset Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game, Suh would've ended up higher on the final ballot. Even without the win, that destructive performance against Texas made it feel like there was a real chance that an interior defensive lineman not only could, but should win the Heisman Trophy. In the end, Suh finished 4th in the voting, but finished with the highest vote total ever by a player who finished 4th in the Heisman voting.

LaDainian Tomlinson, Montee Ball and the Heisman Trophy


Winner: Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor) 

Who Should've Won: Montee Ball (RB, Wisconsin – 4th Place) 

The 2011 Heisman Trophy vote was really a two-man race between Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. I was always a Luck guy, but at the time of the vote, I didn't think it should've been RGIII or Luck. My non-existent vote went to Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, who put together one of the finest seasons you'll ever see from a running back in the NCAA.

Let's first remember that this was a great era of Wisconsin football. The Badgers were on their way to the Rose Bowl for the first of two consecutive seasons, and they rode Montee Ball all the way there. Ball finished the 2011 season with 1,923 rushing yards and 39 total touchdowns. At the time, Ball's 1,923 yards were the 24th most rushing yards in a single-season in NCAA history. He's since dropped to 40th on that list. But Ball's 39 total touchdowns are the most in a single-season in the history of college football.

We rightfully put Barry Sanders' junior season at Oklahoma State on a pedestal, so when someone comes along, as Ball did, and surpasses a record previously held by Sanders (37 touchdowns in 1988), he needs to be rewarded for that.


Who Will Win: Jayden Daniels (QB, LSU)

Who Should Win: Michael Penix Jr. (QB, Washington – Likely 3rd Place finish) 

You weren't expecting this one, were you? I'm doing a little bit of forecasting here, as I expect that in just a few hours time, the official Heisman Trophy vote will look like this:

  1. Jayden Daniels
  2. Bo Nix
  3. Michael Penix Jr.
  4. Marvin Harrison Jr.

And now allow me to be the first to say that on January 8th, when Washington wins the College Football Playoff, revisionist history will start to be written, and it will tell us that Michael Penix Jr. should've been the one to win the Heisman Trophy in 2023.