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Heisman 1971 Pat Sullivan
Malcolm Emmons-US Presswire

Tiger Burning Bright

1971 Heisman winner Pat Sullivan

On Thanksgiving night 1971, Auburn quarterback Pat Sullivan was preparing to watch the annual Georgia-Georgia Tech game on TV. At halftime of that game, the winner of the 1971 Heisman Trophy was going to be announced, and Sullivan was considered one of the leading candidates for the award. "Our TV went on the blink, so we had to go rent a hotel room," Sullivan said. Sullivan, his wife Jean and their 1-year-old daughter Kim were crammed into the hotel room with Sullivan's parents, a teammate and his wife and Auburn sports information director Buddy Davidson. At halftime, Sullivan won the award in a close vote over Cornell running back Ed Marinaro. Sullivan, who had a 25-5 record as Auburn's starting quarterback, tied an NCAA record with 73 total touchdowns (18 rushing and 55 passing) during his three-year career. After Sullivan was named the 37th Heisman Trophy winner, he went to the Tigers' locker room to celebrate with his coaches and teammates. "We watched it on TV just like millions of other people," said Sullivan, who is now the football coach at Samford University in Alabama. "We went to the team meeting room, and I got to share that honor with my teammates that night. That was really special, and it's something today's winners don't get to experience because they're in New York." Nine days later, Sullivan was honored at a dinner in New York. "They said this would make you a Heisman winner for the rest of your life," Sullivan said. "I didn't comprehend what he was saying at the time, but I don't think there's any doubt when you win it, you're marked for the rest of your life as a Heisman Trophy winner. I think as time goes on, your family, friends, school and state take a lot of pride in it."
-- Mark Schlabach

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