John Heisman; an Akron legend

Written by: Matthew Balsinger

Football is not usually the first thing to come to mind when people think of the University of Akron.  Despite this, however, Akron has fielded several dominant players which includes legendary football quarterback and coach John Heisman.

For two years the legendary John Heisman coached football for the Buchtel College football team.  While in Akron, Heisman accomplished two legendary feats; defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes and developing a key football maneuver that is currently used in every play today called the center snap.

While Heisman was paid $750 for coaching in Akron for only one year, he unofficially coached and quarterbacked the Buchtel College football team to a 12 – 6 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes in 1894.  With his short time at Buchtel college, Heisman managed to develop the ‘center snap’ for an unusually tall quarterback.  The move was made to make it easier to get the football into the hands of the team’s most crucial player and has since become the centerpiece of every play in football today.

Though we all know John Heisman today through the trophy that is given the top college football player every year, he was not a favorite of Buchtel College Founder John Buchtel.  Like most Victorian men of his time, John Buchtel believed football to be a barbaric sport, a belief that was held by many at the time because several men died each year playing the sport.

The University of Akron has yet to have a single football player win a Heisman trophy, however it can claim that the football legend himself coached, played and developed the game into what it is today right here in Akron.