Archie Griffin on Who Should Win Heisman

The only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in history talks to Scout about the Heisman, paying college athletes and more.

SCOUT: Who do you think is going to be announced tomorrow night?
GRIFFIN: Most people think it is going to be Mariota, and I think that'll probably be the case as well, judging by the awards ceremony last night where he won three awards. That's a pretty good indicator of what's going to happen with the Heisman.

Would that make you happy if it is Mariota?
Ah, yeah, I wouldn't have a problem with any of the finalists winning. All three are deserving of the Heisman trophy. These guys all had tremendous seasons. For Mariota, If you can accomplish 53 touchdowns, that's pretty doggone special. And from a Melvin Gordon standpoint, when you can run for 2,300 yards and score 29 touchdowns and have a single-game record of 408 yards, that's special as well. Cooper set an SEC record with 115 receptions. Those are big-time numbers. So regardless of whether they win the Heisman trophy or not, they should be extremely proud of what they've done.

How has what you look for in a candidate evolved over the years? Does what happens off the field matter more? Less?
I've always considered what they do off the field. That's important. It is a performance award, but I do give consideration to the way they conduct themselves. I know what kind of folks we want to have be a part of this Heisman club or fraternity.

Is there anyone who is part of that club you don't think should be?
No, no, no. All of the folks in this club deserve it and proved they belong. At the time they were in college, they all did a great job and continue to do a great job.

How is your voting record in terms of picking a winner?
[Laughs] I don't keep count! I have no idea, but I know I've picked a lot of them. A whole heck of a lot of them!

Did you pick Winston last year?
I don't tell who I voted for. I never tell.

As the only two-time winner, you are uniquely qualified to explain what winning the Heisman means to a player.
It means the world to me. It really speaks to the program I was involved in during my time at Ohio State: the other players, the coaches, and the school I represented. All of those people had an impact on me winning the Heisman trophy. I always tell people that I was in the right place at the right time with the right people to make that happen. You can't win a Heisman Trophy alone. Football is a team sport. And within that team, some players get a lot of attention. And I happened to be one of those players, but I certainly could not have done it without the support I got from everyone around me.

Do you think college players should be paid?
I wouldn't call it "getting paid" but I think they should get more. They should be given at least the full cost of attendance. I've been saying that for a long, long time. Because it seems to me that the game has grown so much, where everyone is getting more, except for the players. This is true for all full-ride athletes across all sports because they are asked to do a lot more than I was asked to do when I was in college. As I look at the picture, they don't get much more than I got back in the '70s. I know people don't like to hear it, but coaches' salaries have grown, the revenue coming into the universities has grown by leaps and bounds. And again, the only ones not getting any more are the athletes who play the games.

What do you think of the new bowl system?
I think it worked, I really do. Would I like to see it grow to eight teams? Yes. I think you would get a better feel for a true national champion, because there is a feeling that some folks were left out that should have be in there. And I realize in saying that, if you go to eight, there will be that same concern with number nine. If you go to sixteen, there will be that same concern with number seventeen. But I really believe this would have been a good year for eight teams to be in.

So no matter who is announced as winner tomorrow night, you will be pleased?
No question. I'm pleased. No question at all.

Take a trip down on yard rushing lane with some of Archie's greatest runs.


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