Old School Player of the Week 2: Archie Griffin Ohio State

Archie Griffin is an Ohio kind of guy. He played high school football at Eastmoor High School in Columbus, Ohio. Then, he played 4 years for the Ohio State Buckeyes right across town. Archie Griffin then was a 1st round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals where he spent 7 years.

Now, Archie is back in Columbus where he probably intends to live the rest of his life.

I suppose anyone can think of most any thing when the state name of Ohio comes up. LaBron James is from there and the so called King James is all the media can talk about some times. One could think of the Cleveland Browns and their newly acquired QB, Johnny Manziel.

But, when I personally think about the state of Ohio I will nearly always think of The Ohio State University and The Archie Griffin.

 

 

Archie Griffin grew up in Columbus, Ohio and played high school football at already mentioned Eastmoor High School. He was a star pretty much from day one starting 3 years on the varsity. His junior year, saw Archie rush for over a 1,000 yards. His senior season was extremely impressive with  Archie rushing for 1,787 yards in 11 games and 29 TDs.

Eastmoor High won the Columbus city championship with Archie rushing for 267 yards.

1,700 yards may not seem like that much to some, but in some states they play as many as 16 games and Archie did it in only 11 and went out with a bang in the championship game.

 

To say Archie Griffin was highly recruited would be the understatement of the year. Griffin had 150 scholarship offers his senior season, supposedly.

Obviously, he ignored 149 of them and chose home town Ohio State University. Where else would an Ohio guy like Archie Griffin go.

1972 was the first season that freshmen could play college football. But, most college coaches were against playing them that young even though running back is probably the easiest position to play as a true freshman. Woody Hayes did not want to play Archie Griffin as a true freshman. But, he eventually decided that maybe he should play his best running back regardless of age.

 

Griffin managed to overcome age discrimination and ran for 867 yards.

The following year, Griffin just exploded and shocked the world with 1577 yards rushing at 6.4 yards per carry. He would lead the entire nation in rushing his sophomore season. Ohio State would tie Michigan for the Big 10 championship and would get the nod to play in the Rose Bowl where they crushed the Southern California Trojans, 42-21. Odd situation here was that the Big 10 Athletic Directors voted on who would go to the Rose Bowl and Ohio State won the vote 6-4. Strange way of settling a dispute such as representing a conference in a bowl game and the team that lost didn’t get to go to a bowl in those days.

 

The old jokes about Woody Hayes and his feelings about the forward pass were not really jokes and they rarely did throw the ball. Starting QB, Cornelius Greene was an outstanding runner and was a good technician for the Buckeye offense but he only threw 46 passes all year long and only completed 20 of those. Greene did rush for 720 yards from the QB position and Fullback Bruce Elia rushed for 429 yards and 14 TDs.

But, Griffin was by far the Buckeyes primary offensive weapon.

He was never a big guy. He was listed as 5-9, 195, but you could bet the farm that the 5-9 part is a bit of a stretch.

It’s hard to find any highlights of Archie, but I will never forget his hard charging power back style of running. He had some quickness to the outside as well. He wasn’t a burner or a true power back, but he combined the two very effectively to make a really great college running back. He ran with a fury and hit his holes in a hurry and followed his blocking well. He was very durable which basically means tough and he rarely fumbled.

 

1974 was a year dominated by Archie Griffin. He led the entire nation again in rushing and just went wild with 1695 yards rushing and 12 TDs. Notre Dame started 1974 in the #1 spot but lost to old nemesis Purdue, 31-20 on the last Saturday of September. Ohio State took over the #1 spot and responded by stuffing every opponent they faced up until they met Michigan State and were upset 16-13.

Ohio State dropped to #4 and played #3 Michigan in their big rivalry with Ohio State winning 12-10 and earning the Rose Bowl bid. Buckeye QB, Cornelius Greene showed significant improvement in 1974 over the previous season. He completed 59.8 % of his 97 passes for 939 yards and 9 TDs. Pretty small stats compared to today’s Quarterbacks.

He also ran for 842 yards and 9 more TDs.

 

Archie Griffin won the Heisman Trophy in 1974. In those days. voters didn’t usually cast their votes for juniors so for Griffin to win it was a major accomplishment and just showed how dominating he was.

 

Ohio State then had a heartbreaking trip to Pasadena and lost to the Trojans by a single point, 18-17, in the Rose Bowl.

 

Archie Griffin was back for his senior year in 1975. Ohio State returned their QB, Cornelius Greene, also. Plus, now they had another weapon in junior Pete Johnson. Johnson rushed for 1,059 yards and QB Greene ran for 518 and he finally threw for over 1,000 yards. Amazingly, Pete Johnson also ran for 25 TDs.

Griffin had his usual dominating season with 1,450 yards and would win the Heisman Trophy for the 2nd year in a row.

 

Archie became the all time career rushing record holder after his senior season with 5,589. That record would stand all of one year and was broken in 1976 by the great Tony Dorsett of Pittsburgh.

Dorsett’s record would stand until 1998 and then be broken by Texas Running Back Ricky Williams. Coincidentally, that Ricky Williams record would stand all of one year as well to be broken by Ron Dayne of Wisconsin in 1999.

Expect the Dayne record to hold up a while due to players leaving early for the NFL.

 

Griffin was a 1st round pick by the in state Bengals, but he was kind of a bust in the NFL. He did play and produced some yardage, but he was never dominating again.

However, he still remains the only college football player to win 2 Heisman Trophies.

 

Jameis Winston is the favorite to repeat this season and win another Heisman, but he keeps having off the field issues. Time will tell if Winston joins Archie Griffin, or if Marcus Mariota or any other number of Heisman hopefuls steal it away from Winston.

 

But, for the last almost 40 years, Archie Griffin remains the only player to win 2 Heisman Trophies.

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  1. Pingback: Heisman Trophy Voting 1974 | College Football Crazy

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