Ohio State legends Troy Smith, Eddie George and Archie Griffin convened at the Ohio State student union Friday night for an hour-long talk about what it is like to play at Ohio State and win a Heisman, offering a unique perspective as they represent three of the four living Buckeyes who have claimed college football’s most prestigious award.
For $10 a ticket, fans got the opportunity to hear the three men who played the sport at its highest level talk about their experiences at Ohio State, each recounting the journey that led them to the Heisman Trophy and speaking of the brotherhood they feel with one another.
The Columbus Dispatch's Tim May, a 31-year veteran of the Ohio State football beat who has had a vote for the Heisman Trophy since 1984, moderated the event and had Griffin, who won the award in 1974 and 1975 and remains the only two-time winner, recount how he learned he won the trophy to highlight the way the fanfare and obsession with the award has grown. Griffin was invited to New York over a call made from a pay phone and was the only finalist to travel to New York, eliminating any suspense.
While these days potential winners are judged in part by how many "Heisman moments" they have throughout the season, Griffin said he felt he was deserving of the award because of his consistency, citing his record streak of 31 games with at least 100 yards rushing as the mark he is most proud of.
By the time George won his trophy in 1995, multiple finalists were there for a suspenseful ceremony and while he wasn't sure he would win, Griffin was.
Griffin said that when he was watching a practice and saw George freeze cornerback Shawn Springs completely on his way to the end zone he turned to George's father and said simply, "Your son is going to win the Heisman Trophy."
"In that moment, my life changed forever," George said of hearing his name called in New York.
George talked about his school-record 314 yards rushing against Illinois as the moment he knew he could possibly win the award, and then went on to joke about that record nearly falling with Ezekiel Elliott's performance in the national title game -- "Urban, enough is enough, get him out the game," George joked.
Smith, Ohio State's most recent winner who garnered the award by the widest margin of votes in the trophy's history, said his big moment came on a 37-yard touchdown strike to Brian Robiskie on a broken play. That score led to a 28-6 win over the Nittany Lions during Smith's Heisman campaign.
Looking back wasn't enough as the topic turned from past glories to potential future success. Obviously the three Ohio State legends couldn't escape without commenting on who should start at quarterback next season.
For Smith, who cited loyalty, Braxton was the answer: "He shouldn't lose his job because he got injured."
Griffin also spoke of loyalty, but too loyalty to recent performance and Cardale Jones: "You've got a guy that won the three biggest games there are to play. He is the guy doing all the practicing now. Is it fair for a guy to go through the whole spring and win you a championship and not start?"
For George, Jones was also the answer: "The confidence level is going to be at another level. My thing is whoever is going to be my starting quarterback is going to have to take it."
Regardless of who starts at quarterback, the leading contender to join the elite brotherhood of Smith, George and Griffin is Elliott, and all three said they believe he could win the award.
If he does, he will certainly be welcomed in to an exclusive club of elite Ohio State athletes.