Archie Griffin

In 1974, Ohio State tailback Archie Griffin became just the fifth junior ever to win the Heisman Trophy. In 1975, Griffin became the first player ever to win a second Heisman. Decades later he is still the only player to have two of the coveted bronze statues, which go annually to the nation’s top college football player. In January 2020, Griffin was named the fourth greatest player in college football history.

Griffin won the Heisman Trophy in 1974 and then again in 1975, and years later no player has won it twice. Griffin’s legendary collegiate career at Ohio State saw him set the NCAA Division I rushing record while rushing for another NCAA record of consecutive 100-yard games: 31. Griffin is a member of the National Football Foundation and the Rose Bowl halls of fame and, of course, belongs to the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame.

While his 5,589 rushing yards are still the Ohio State standard, Griffin has become a beloved favorite of college football fans nationwide because of his humble nature, first-class demeanor, patience and kind reception to anyone and everyone he meets. His life after football has been full of achievement and accolades:

  • He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
  • Inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in the fall of 1996
  • Ohio State retired his jersey number “45” Oct. 30, 1999.
  • In 2006 he was named one of the NCAA’s “100 Most Influential Student-Athletes”.
  • Also in 2006, he was appointed to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Board of Directors.
  • In 2007, he was the recipient of the Duffy Daugherty Award, given to individuals for lifetime achievement and contribution to collegiate football.
  • In 2011 he was the first recipient of the Big Ten’s Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award.
  • In 2013 he was named the Rose Bowl’s “All-Century” Player.
  • Griffin’s name, along with that of Red Grange, graces the Big Ten championship game MVP award.

A three-time All-American and All-Big Ten selection, Griffin’s many leadership activities includes creating the Archie Griffin Scholarship Fund, which benefits Ohio State’s Olympic sports programs.

Griffin was the Buckeyes’ starting tailback for four years, leading Ohio State to a 40-5-1 record and four Big Ten titles between 1972 and 1975. He started in four-consecutive Rose Bowls, the only player ever to do so, and was a three-time first-team All-American.

At 5 feet 9 inches and 180 pounds, Griffin was small by college football standards even then, but he played with the heart of a lion and no football accomplishment was beyond his reach.

In just the second game of his freshman year, Griffin ran for a school record 239 yards. It was the start of a brilliant career that would see him amass an OSU record 5,589 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Excluding bowl games, Griffin rushed for 5,177 yards on 845 carries. The former figure ranks him fifth among all NCAA career ball carriers and Griffin rarely played more than half a game, his coach, Woody Hayes, always opting to take his star out as soon as the Buckeyes were in control.

Between his sophomore and senior seasons, Griffin ran for 100 or more yards in 31 consecutive regular-season games. That, too, is still an NCAA record, as is his 33 career 100-yard games.

In addition to two Heisman Trophies, Griffin also has a pair of Silver Footballs. The latter award is presented annually by the Chicago Tribune to the Big Ten’s MVP. He is one of just three players to win that award twice. Griffin also was a two-time pick as National Player of the Year by both United Press International and the Walter Camp Foundation. He won those honors as a junior and senior.

Following his senior year, Griffin, who graduated a quarter early with a degree in industrial relations, received the NCAA’s prestigious Top Five Award for combined excellence in athletics, academics and leadership. It is the highest award the NCAA can bestow.

After graduation, Griffin was a first-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals. He played eight years of professional football, before returning to Columbus and joining the staff at Ohio State.