Archie's Heisman Record Safe For Now?

USC quarterback Matt Leinart has had a solid season. But it might not be enough to repeat as the Heisman Trophy Award winner. Therefore, it looks like former Ohio State running back Archie Griffin's record is safe for now. Griffin is the only two-time recipient of the award. We caught up with Griffin for his thoughts on his record, Reggie Bush, the state of Ohio State football and more.

Ohio State's Archie Griffin is the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, and it looks like it's going to stay that way for now.

Coming into the 2005 season, USC quarterback Matt Leinart was the odds-on favorite to repeat as the Heisman winner and tie Griffin's 30-year-old record (he won the award in 1974-75).

However – while nothing is a sure thing – it appears as though Leinart's teammate, junior tailback Reggie Bush, will win the award this Saturday.

And even if Bush doesn't bring home the hardware, Texas quarterback Vince Young would likely be the choice. Leinart seems to be running a distant third, maybe even fourth to Notre Dame's Brady Quinn.

Griffin, who is already in New York City preparing for Saturday's ceremony, was not concerned coming into the season that his record was in jeopardy.

"Well, I never look at it like that, because so many things can happen," Griffin told "The big thing is that there are so many outstanding football players out there. Certainly last year, when you look at the group that came to New York, Reggie Bush was one of them. Certainly Adrian Peterson out of Oklahoma was the true freshman and last year had a sizzling season and he was certainly someone that most people thought would be a prime candidate this year. However, he got hurt this year and really didn't have the type of season that he's capable of having.

"So, you never go into the season thinking that one person in particular is going to win it, because of the amount of talent that's out there. Certainly Leinart was the leading candidate coming back because of the season he had a year ago. And when you really think about it, he really has not disappointed anyone. He still had a great season and there's still a possibility that he could still win it. You never know how the voting is going to go."

Griffin – known for his class and modesty, almost as much as his running skills – knows there will come a day when someone ties his record.

"I've said for a long time that there would be another two-time Heisman Trophy winner," he said. "I've even said that there's a possibility that there will be a three-time winner. You look at what Adrian Peterson did last year, he was one that I had in mind when I said that. But know that someone will do it. I would have thought that someone would have done it by this time."

If the prognosticators are correct, Bush will win by a comfortable margin on Saturday. The USC junior will likely turn pro following the season, keeping Griffin's record in tact for at least another two years.

Like most everyone else in the country, Griffin has been impressed with what he has seen from the speedy Bush.

"I think Reggie Bush is one of those special players," Griffin said. "He has the ability to make people miss him, he has smooth moves and he's got outstanding speed. He's got the tools to be a great one; he's already a great one at the college ranks. He plays big in big games. The games where you want to at least have average numbers, or good numbers, he has phenomenal numbers. So, I think that's what makes him a very special player."

Other than doing flips into the end zone, does Bush remind Griffin a little bit of himself?

"No, I didn't do too many flips into the end zone," Griffin said with a laugh. "But no, he doesn't remind me of the way I played. Who Reggie really reminds me of is Barry Sanders. The way that he has that ability to make people miss him and the way he can stop on a dime and change directions. That's who he reminds me of. But he has the smoothness of a Gale Sayers. His stride and those type of things. I mean, he's got the package."

Griffin also commented on Young, the junior leader of the Longhorns.

"I think he's had a fabulous year," Griffin said. "Where he's taken Texas, all the way from that Rose Bowl game that the played last year against Michigan where he was phenomenal, throughout this whole season. He's just played outstanding football and having his team playing for the national championship is something special and he's a big reason that they are doing that."

Archie on the Buckeyes

Griffin never got a chance to play against Notre Dame, but he's happy that the current crop of Buckeyes will get their shot at the Irish in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2. Next to the national championship game, OSU couldn't ask for a better bowl.

"I think it's a great matchup and I applaud the Fiesta Bowl for pulling the trigger and making that happen, because Ohio State, we've gone out there three of the last four years," Griffin said. "I think this game is certainly going to have wonderful viewership across the country. It's a game that doesn't happen very often. In all the time that college football has been going on, Ohio State and Notre Dame have only played four times, which is kind of crazy, but it's only happened four times. So, this is a very, very special game. I know the Ohio State fans are looking forward to it and I'm sure the Notre Dame Irish are looking forward to it also.

"I think the coaching matchup is very, very special. (Charlie) Weis has done a fabulous job at Notre Dame this year. Jim Tressel and Weis both do a tremendous job of preparing for football games and now you're going to give them time to prepare for a game. So I think it's truly going to be a great football game."

One of the reasons OSU was able to have such a successful second-half of the season was the play of sophomore tailback Antonio Pittman. He is sitting on 1,195 rushing yards (and counting) and he has impressed the most famous running back in OSU history.

"Well, I tell you what, I think Antonio's got a great future ahead of him," Griffin said. "Antonio has got outstanding quickness and I like that about him. But he also showed this year a whole lot of strength. He did not always run around people. He didn't dance much before hitting the hole like a year ago. I think he really, really had an outstanding season and he matured a great deal in his running.

"It looked like to me, when he saw there was a hole to run through and he needed to get a first down, he would take the shortest distance to getting that first down. Instead of dancing a little bit, he found that gap and he ran to that gap and tried to make it happen and sacrificed his body. And that was very special. That showed me a lot of maturity in running because sometimes when you're just out of high school, you're used to doing a lot of things and you've had success with it. Well, at this level, at the college I-A level, you can't always do that and get away with some of the things that you did in high school. I think the future is very bright for him."

Griffin also gave his take on OSU junior quarterback Troy Smith, who led the Big Ten in passing efficiency this season.

"I love the way that Troy plays," Griffin said. "I just wish that we could have had him all year, and even in the bowl game last year. And I say that because the more Troy is on the field, the better he is. We missed that mature play early in the season. But as the season went on, he got better and better and we need to make sure that he continues to grow in his game and continues to get better."

Coming into the 2005 season, OSU sophomore Ted Ginn Jr. was being touted as a Heisman candidate. Ginn found it difficult to live up to all the hype, but Griffin thinks that Ginn is still one of the most explosive players in the college game.

"It is hard to live up to that hype," Griffin said. "And Ted is a great young man and I like him and I like what he does when the ball is in his hands. And you know, everybody thinks he may have had a down year in his returns and what not, but he had at least two of those things called back this year. People go through a whole year without having any, and he had two called back, and another two that counted. He's so exciting and I just think that his future is tremendous. He's still young as a receiver and he's going to get better and better and better. And when he gets better and better and better, he's really going to be very dangerous because he's got that one thing that you can teach, and that's speed. Great speed."

Griffin was an associate athletic director at OSU under Andy Geiger when Tressel was hired in 2001. Looking back, Griffin knows there is no doubt that OSU made the right choice.

"I think Jim has done a wonderful job," Griffin said. "In the years he's been at Ohio State, he's got two Big Ten championship teams, a national championship team and four wins over Michigan. You can't ask for a whole lot more than that.

"Jim Tressel, when we were looking for a coach, we were looking for someone who had the type of background that Jim had with working with young people, and Jim is great at that. He's done a fabulous job of recruiting. Also, he's done a wonderful job in making a difference in the lives of the young men in the program. He's the type of guy that you want coaching your kids. He and his staff really care about the kids in the program."

Griffin once had aspirations of being OSU's athletic director. But two years ago, another opportunity came knocking.

"I'm the president of the Ohio State Alumni Association and right now we're one of the largest dues paying alumni associations in the world," Griffin said. "And we have a vision to be the largest and to do that we have to get more people involved with the Alumni Association. Our goal is to keep alums connected to the university in a number of different ways and we try and do that.

"I plan on doing this for quite a while. I enjoy the challenge. I've been doing it for two years now. My predecessor was in for 35 years. So, I understand in these two years why he liked the job so much. It gives me a wonderful opportunity to interact with alums from all over the world and that is a very special opportunity."

In addition to watching OSU games and running the Alumni Association, Griffin also enjoys tuning in for NFL games. He spent his entire seven-year NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals and he remains a Bengals fan to this day.

"I'm a big-time Bengals fan and I think Marvin Lewis is doing a terrific job with the Bengals," Griffin said. "I hope once they get in the playoffs that they can go far. The year I played in the Super Bowl was 24 years ago (1981 season; '82 Super Bowl) and hopefully this is the year they can get back there again."

Another one of Griffin's records that might never be broken is OSU's career rushing mark. He racked up 5,589 yards from 1972-75.

"Well, I don't know about that," Griffin said, using his classic humble approach. "They said my single-season rushing record wouldn't be broken (1,695 yards in 1974), then Keith Byars did it (1,764 yards in 1984), then Eddie (George) broke that one (1,927 yards in 1995). So, like they always say, records are made to be broken and I'm just fortunate enough to be mentioned with those guys."

There's not a better ambassador for Ohio State than Archie Griffin, still the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy.

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