College Football
Heisman winners by school: Where does USC rank after returning Reggie Bush's trophy?
College Football

Heisman winners by school: Where does USC rank after returning Reggie Bush's trophy?

Updated Apr. 25, 2024 9:27 a.m. ET

The Heisman Trust's announcement Wednesday that it was returning Reggie Bush's 2005 trophy to the former USC star running back was not only met with universal praise from across the college football world, it also officially made the Trojans the first program with eight Heisman Trophy winners. 

Bush was USC's seventh Heisman winner when he initially won the award in 2005, but returned his trophy and forfeited his Heisman recognition as part of the fallout of an NCAA investigation into his allegedly receiving improper gifts during his USC career. The Heisman Trust cited "enormous changes in college athletics over the last several years," alluding to athletes' current ability to profit off their name, image and likeness that did not exist when Bush played and would have almost assuredly rendered his gifts above board.

In 2022, with Bush's Heisman still wiped from the record books, quarterback Caleb Williams won the Heisman Trophy in his first year as a Trojan after he helped vault USC back to national relevance with an 11-1 regular season before losing in the Pac-12 Championship Game in which he played hurt after injuring his hamstring in the first quarter.

But Williams' trophy was still technically considered USC's seventh award, until the restoration of Bush's raised that tally to eight. That breaks USC's four-way tie for most Heisman winners with three other stories programs — Ohio State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Check out the top-five list of schools with most Heisman winners below!


1. USC, 8 winners

Winners: RB Mike Garrett (1964), RB O.J. Simpson (1968), RB Charles White (1979), RB Marcus Allen (1981), QB Carson Palmer (2002), QB Matt Leinart (2004), RB Reggie Bush (2005), QB Caleb Williams (2022)

Among this list, all but Garrett went on to become a first-round pick in the NFL Draft. Williams will not only join that list Thursday, he is expected to join Simpson and Palmer as the only three USC Heisman winners to also be No. 1 overall draft picks. 

But Garrett is still a USC legend, and not just for his playing feats in helping establish the vaunted era of head coach John McKay in the 1960s. Garrett later became the Trojans' athletic director, hiring Pete Carroll in 2000 and overseeing the era that saw USC win two national titles under Carroll and produce three of the Heisman winners on this list — Palmer, Leinart and Bush.

Allen also became a Los Angeles football icon in his own right as the first college football player to run for over 2,000 yards in his Heisman-winning season of 1981, then going on to produce a Hall of Fame career and win a Super Bowl with the then-Los Angeles Raiders. Allen is the only football player to have won the Heisman Trophy, an NCAA national championship, the Super Bowl, and be named NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP. 

Matt Leinart recounts the greatest memories of the Pac-12 conference and bids a final farewell

T-2. Ohio State, 7 winners

Winners: QB Les Horvath (1944), HB Vic Janowicz (1950), HB Howard Cassady (1955), RB Archie Griffin (1974 & 1975), RB Eddie George (1995), QB Troy Smith (2006)

No name looms larger on this list than Griffin, who is still the only player in the history of the Heisman Trophy to win the award multiple times. Griffin did so by recording over 250 carries in both years he won and surpassing 3,000 rushing yards in total over that span. Griffin is also one of just two players in the history of the Rose Bowl to start four straight editions of the game.

George had the most successful NFL career of any past Buckeyes award winners, starring for Houston Oilers turned Tennessee Titans and making four straight Pro Bowls from 1997-2000. He now coaches at Tennessee State and was one of the past Heisman winners lending his voice in support of Bush getting his own trophy returned.

Eddie George agrees with Johnny Manziel: Give Reggie Bush his Heisman back

T-2. Notre Dame, 7 winners

Winners: QB Angelo Bertelli (1943), QB/S John Lujack (1947), FB Leon Hart (1949), HB John Lattner (1953), HB/K Paul Hornung (1956), QB John Huarte (1964), WR Tim Brown (1987)

Not only do the Fighting Irish have a positionally diverse array of Heisman winners over their long and storied history, the list also includes two who went on to become Pro Football Hall of Famers — Hornung and Brown. Hornung went on to star for the Vince Lombardi-coached Green Bay Packers team that won the inaugural Super Bowl in 1966 and four pre-Super Bowl era NFL championships, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. Brown was a teammate of Allen on the Los Angeles Raiders and made nine Pro Bowls.

Hornung, Allen and Brown are part of a group of just 10 players to win a Heisman Trophy and reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Their stories were honored in last year in a FOX Sports documentary, "The Perfect 10."

The Perfect 10 | Trailer

T-2. Oklahoma, 7 winners

Winners: HB Billy Vessels (1952), RB Steve Owens (1969), RB Billy Sims (1978), QB Jason White (2003), QB Sam Bradford (2008), QB Baker Mayfield (2017), QB Kyler Murray (2018)

No program has been more successful in the modern, quarterback-dominated era of college football in churning out Heisman Trophy-winning signal callers than Oklahoma has, thanks in large part to former head coach Bob Stoops' ability to hire innovative offensive coordinators. 

That group includes Lincoln Riley, who was promoted to head coach after Stoops' retirement in 2017 and promptly produced two more Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks who became No. 1 overall NFL Draft picks in Mayfield and Murray. Both players, now NFL veterans, have since led their respective teams to the playoffs and are set to return as starting quarterbacks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals, respectively, in 2024.

Lincoln Riley, Bob Stoops and the Untold Truth About Oklahoma Football | Real Talk with RJ Young

5. Alabama, 4 winners

Winners: RB Mark Ingram (2009), RB Derrick Henry (2015), WR DeVonta Smith (2020), QB Bryce Young (2021)

It speaks to the greatness of Nick Saban that despite Alabama's storied history before he arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007, the school had never produced a Heisman Trophy winner. By the time Saban retired earlier this year, that number had risen to four. It all started with current FOX Sports college football analyst Ingram in 2009, and continued through current NFL starters Henry, Smith and Young. 

Nick Saban's path to College Football immortality | Real Talk with RJ Young

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