Heisman Vote Often Goes To The Wire

Since Brad Banks is a legitimate contender for the Heisman Trophy, let's take a look back in history at how fragile the Heisman voting may be. Former Hawkeye & Big Ten Most Valuable Player, Bill Reichardt, recalls a little known fact about how Nile Kinnick happened to win the Heisman Trophy. His appearance as a guest columnist is appreciated by the HTO.com staff.

I'll tell you story about the Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Here's one of the first colored pictures ever produced in a newspaper and it was of the 1939 Iron man Football team. There were only 27 players on the entire squad and I was a nuisance mascot at nine years old.

Football players in those days played both offense and defense. And if you left the game in any one quarter, you couldn't come back in the game in that quarter, so a lot of players played hurt, particularly in the fourth quarter. As few as 16 players on that 1939 Iowa team ever played in a game. They became known as the University of Iowa's Ironmen.

Iowa had lost all of their games in the previous season, but under their brilliant new coach Dr Eddy Anderson, Iowa lost only one game in the season of '39 and tied for the Big Ten championship. The last game of the season was of national interest because this Cinderella Iron man Iowa team was playing heavily the favored Irish of Notre Dame, who happened to be vying for the mythical national championship and was heavily favored.

But late in the game, Iowa was trailing just 6 points, and Iowa had stopped Notre Dame deep in Iowa territory.. Then methodically moved the ball back up field to the Notre Dame 2-yard-line, time running out and 4th down. Iowa called time-out and Dr. Anderson screamed to his signal caller, "Don't give the ball to Kinnick!" Everybody in the stands knows that Kinnick is going to get the ball, so don't give Kiinick the ball. Back in the huddle, Buzz Dean's play was called, but he said," I can't take it, I have a separated shoulder." Then against the command of coach Eddie Anderson, signal caller said, "can you take it in Nile?' Kinnick said , "Let's run that play to the left side, I think I have some broken ribs on my right side."

Look at the picture, ten exhausted players leveled everybody on the field. Kinnick puts the ball in his left hand to protect his ribs on his right side. He crossed the goal line standing up, and then Kinnick drop kicks the extra point, beating Notre Dame 7 to 6. The National Press went crazy!!

If that play had failed, Nile Kinnick might not have won the Heisman Trophy, or had the University of Iowa Stadium named in his memory.


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