It’s Close Call, but Jackson Survives, Wins Heisman
At one point Saturday, Bo Jackson wasn’t sure he would survive the Heisman Trophy announcement.
Survive he did, however, winning the 1985 award in the closest vote in the 51-year history of the trophy, which is awarded by the Downtown Athletic Club.
“I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my shirt,” said Jackson, the Auburn tailback who beat Iowa quarterback Chuck Long by only 45 points in the balloting.
“It’s the first time since I’ve been in college that I’ve been nervous. I think the people in the next row could hear my heart beating.”
Jackson, who has been projected by National Football League scouts as the top pick in next spring’s draft, had 317 first-place votes and finished with 1,509 points. Long, who led the No. 3 Hawkeyes to this season’s Rose Bowl, received 286 first-place votes and 1,464 points.
“I’m honored to be so close,” Long said. “People will remember this race. I never expected to win. I was happy to be invited. It’s been kind of fun.”
Previously, the closest vote was in 1961, when fullback Ernie Davis of Syracuse beat running back Bob Ferguson of Ohio State by 53 points.
Jackson and Long split as winners of the six regions in the voting. Jackson was first in the Mid-Atlantic, South and Southwest, while Long won in the Northeast, Midwest and Far West.
Jackson will receive the trophy at a dinner here Thursday.
Brigham Young quarterback Robbie Bosco was third with 459 points, Michigan State sophomore running back Lorenzo White was fourth (391) and quarterback Vinny Testaverde of Miami (Fla.) came in fifth (249).
The remainder of the top 10 included: Purdue quarterback Jim Everett, Navy running back Napoleon McCallum, Notre Dame running back Allen Pinkett, running back Joe Dudek of Plymouth (N.H.) State, a Division III school, and, tied for 10th place, quarterback Brian McClure of Bowling Green and running back Thurman Thomas of Oklahoma State.
Ohio State running back Keith Byars and Jackson were early favorites to win the award. But Byars, the nation’s leading rusher and scorer last season, broke his right foot in preseason. He aggravated the injury several times and missed eight games.
Jackson, who rushed for 1,786 yards this season, said that winning the Heisman was the culmination of his collegiate athletic career, but “getting my degree is more important than the Heisman.
“The Heisman symbolizes the best athlete,” he said, “but when I’m done with sports, I can always use my degree in the rest of my life.”
While leading Auburn (8-3) to the Cotton Bowl, Jackson averaged 6.4 yards in 278 carries, scoring 17 touchdowns and 102 points, which tied him for second place in the nation.
During his collegiate career, Jackson rushed for 4,303 yards, an Auburn record, in 650 carries and scored 43 touchdowns. He went over the 200-yard mark four times this season, including a season-high 290 yards in the opener against Southwest Louisiana.
However, his toughness was questioned several times this season after he removed himself from games with Tennessee and Florida, both of which Auburn lost. But Jackson responded with a 142-yard effort against Alabama despite playing with broken ribs.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Jackson, who is also a pro prospect in baseball. “I had to sit and listen to all the criticism that people dished out. Then you have to prove yourself on the field.
“I think I handled it very well, I didn’t let it get to me.”
Long, who had been redshirted and could have turned pro after the 1984 season, completed 231 of 351 passes for 2,978 yards and 26 touchdowns, placing him third in the NCAA passing efficiency ratings. He was intercepted 15 times this season.
In his career at Iowa, he passed for 10,142 yards and completed 64.6% of his passes.
Jackson is the second Auburn player to win the award. In 1971, Auburn’s Pat Sullivan was the last quarterback to win the trophy until Boston College’s Doug Flutie was honored last year.
HEISMAN TROPHY FACTS & FIGURES THE WINNERS
YEAR PLAYER SCHOOL POS. 1985 Bo Jackson Auburn HB 1984 Doug Flutie Boston College QB 1983 Mike Rozier Nebraska TB 1982 Herschel Walker Georgia HB 1981 Marcus Allen USC TB 1980 George Rogers South Carolina HB 1979 Charles White USC TB 1978 Billy Sims Oklahoma HB 1977 Earl Campbell Texas FB 1976 Tony Dorsett Pittsburgh HB 1975 Archie Griffin Ohio State HB 1974 Archie Griffin Ohio State HB 1973 John Cappelletti Penn State HB 1972 Johnny Rodgers Nebraska FL 1971 Pat Sullivan Auburn QB 1970 Jim Plunkett Stanford QB 1969 Steve Owens Oklahoma HB 1968 O.J. Simpson USC TB 1967 Gary Beban UCLA QB 1966 Steve Spurrier Florida QB 1965 Mike Garrett USC TB 1964 John Huarte Notre Dame QB 1963 Roger Staubach Navy QB 1962 Terry Baker Oregon State QB 1961 Ernie Davis Syracuse HB 1960 Joe Bellino Navy HB 1959 Billy Cannon LSU HB 1958 Pete Dawkins Army HB 1957 John David Crow Texas A&M; HB 1956 Paul Hornung Notre Dame QB 1955 Howard Cassady Ohio State HB 1954 Alan Ameche Wisconsin FB 1953 John Lattner Notre Dame HB 1952 Billy Vessels Oklahoma HB 1951 Dick Kazmaier Princeton HB 1950 Vic Janowicz Ohio State HB 1949 Leon Hart Notre Dame E 1948 Doak Walker SMU HB 1947 John Lujack Notre Dame QB 1946 Glenn Davis Army HB 1945 Doc Blanchard Army HB 1944 Les Horvath Ohio State QB 1943 Angelo Bertelli Notre Dame QB 1942 Frank Sinkwich Georgia HB 1941 Bruce Smith Minnesota HB 1940 Tom Harmon Michigan HB 1939 Nile Kinnick Iowa HB 1938 Davey O’Brien TCU QB 1937 Clint Frank Yale HB 1936 Larry Kelley Yale E 1935 Jay Berwanger Chicago HB
NAME (SCHOOL) 1ST 2ND 3RD PTS* 1. Jackson (Auburn) 317 218 122 1509 2. Long (Iowa) 286 254 98 1464 3. Bosco (BYU) 38 95 155 459 4. White (Mich. St.) 50 63 115 391 5. Testaverde (Miami) 41 41 44 249 6. Everett (Purdue) 12 11 19 77 7. McCallum (Navy) 8 11 26 72 8. Pinkett (Notre Dame) 9 13 18 71 9. Dudek (Plymouth St.) 12 4 12 56 10. McClure (Bowl. Green) 7 10 13 54 10. Thomas (Okla. St.) 1 13 25 54
* Breakdown for points: first-place vote is worth three points, second-place vote is worth 2 points and third-place vote is worth one point.
VOTE LEADERS BY REGIONS
Northeast 1. Long, 2. Jackson, 3. Testaverde, 4. White
Mid-Atlantic 1. Jackson, 2. Long, 3. Bosco, 4. Testaverde
1. Jackson, 2. Long, 3. Bosco, 4. Testaverde
1. Jackson, 2. Long, 3. Bosco, 4. White
1. Long, 2. Jackson, 3. White, 4. Everett
Far West 1. Long, 2. Jackson, 3. Bosco, 4. White
BO JACKSON’S CAREER STATISTICS
YEAR ATT YDS AVG TD YDS PG 1982 127 829 6.5 9 82.9 1983 158 1213 7.7 12 110.3 1984 87 475 5.5 5 79.2 1985 278 1786 6.4 17 162.4 Total 650 4303 6.6 43 113.2