Sunday, Sep 23, 2018
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Archie Griffin: a striking man indeed


One humble man.

Two Heisman trophies.

Archie Griffin is a modest, unassuming guy, but he is still the only person on the planet who owns a matching set of the most coveted hardware in sports.

It has been three decades since Griffin picked up his second Heisman Trophy.

His 1975 award sits in his home office.


Archie Griffi n is surprised that no one else has won two Heisman Trophies. The Ohio State great won in 1974 and 1975.


The one from 1974 is on loan to a friend, who has it on display at the Buckeye Hall of Fame Caf in Columbus.

Griffin is easily the most recognizable face of Ohio State football.

He remains in a class by himself.

Griffin was the golden boy in the golden age for ground games in the Big Ten.

And he is one of the most beloved Buckeyes ever, right up there alongside his former coach, Woody Hayes.

The Heisman Trophy was first doled out in 1935. Sixty-nine players have won the prestigious award since then, but Griffin remains the only repeat winner.

He is revered, but rather than gush about his gargantuan accomplishment, he shakes his head in disbelief.

"I didn't think they'd ever give the Heisman to anybody twice, even when I won it," said Griffin, now 51. "It's a very difficult thing to do. You're a marked man your senior season and all the defenses are stacked up to stop you.

"Another reason it is so hard to repeat now is because a lot of guys leave after their junior year and go on to play professionally. There's a lot of big money out there."

Even so, Griffin figured he would have some company by now in his yet exclusive one-man club.

In winning back-to-back Heismans, he accomplished what four other previous junior winners - Army's Doc Blanchard, SMU's Doak Walker, Ohio State's Vic Janowicz and Navy's Roger Staubach - could not.

Since Griffin, 10 juniors have won the award, but six of them have skipped their senior seasons to turn pro.

In 1978, Oklahoma tailback Billy Sims won the Heisman. He led the nation in rushing and touchdowns the following year, but finished second to Southern Cal tailback Charles White.

In 1991, Brigham Young quarterback Ty Detmer was third in the voting after winning it the year before.

And last year, Oklahoma quarterback Jason White finished third to USC quarterback Matt Leinart after capturing the award in 2003.

In order to join Griffin as two-time winner this year, Leinart must withstand the challenges of his teammate, USC tailback Reggie Bush, and Texas quarterback Vince Young, the other Heisman frontrunners.

"I always say, 'If I could do it, then someone else can,' " said Griffin, who is in his second year as president and CEO of the Ohio State Alumni Association. "I know somebody out there is eventually going to win the Heisman twice, or maybe even three times. I expected it to happen by now. It just hasn't.

"I think Leinart's got a great chance to do it this year, actually. He's certainly a leader on a great team that has won two national championships and is going for a third. I think his biggest competition might come from Reggie Bush. I know this, both of them are hot candidates."

Griffin finished fifth in the Heisman voting as a sophomore in 1973.

He rushed for 1,695 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior in 1974 to win his first one, and 1,450 yards and four touchdowns as a senior in 1975 to capture his second.

Griffin, 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, finished his career with a then-NCAA record 5,177 yards. A three-time All-American, he led the Buckeyes to a 29-1-1

record during an incredible streak in which he gained 100 yards or more in 31 consecutive games.

He is the only player in school history to lead the team in rushing all four years, and the only one to start four Rose Bowls.

Griffin was a first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1976. He played eight seasons in the NFL and in one Super Bowl, yet never came close to achieving the greatness he did at Ohio State.

Inside the entrance to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, there is life-sized cutout of Griffin, wearing his trademark No. 45 jersey, dodging a tackler.

Griffin's thoughts, though, quickly drift toward the fiery Hayes, who produced both championships and controversy.

Hayes lost his head late in the 1978 Gator Bowl, slugged Clemson player Charlie Bauman near the Ohio State bench, and lost his job the next day.

He would never coach again.

"I just loved playing for Woody," Griffin said. "He was a tough coach, but he was fair. He cared about his players. He took care of me.

"I think he gets an unfair rap from a lot of people across the country, all because of one incident. If you talk to people around here, you'll hear only much more positive stories. He was a great coach."

Under Woody's guidance, Griffin proved to be double-trouble.

He has two Heisman trophies to prove it.

Strike that pose.

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