Duggan wins Davey O’Brien Award – first Frog to get trophy named for TCU legend

TCU quarterback Max Duggan
Max Duggan (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

TCU quarterback Max Duggan has been making history on and off the football field all season long – and he did it again Thursday night.

When Duggan was announced as the winner of the 2022 Davey O’Brien Award during ESPN’s College Football Awards show, he became the first TCU quarterback to win the award named in honor of the legendary QB who won the Heisman Trophy and led the Horned Frogs to the national championship in 1938.

Of all the top-flight signal callers to wear TCU purple since the O’Brien Award was first given to the nation’s top quarterback in 1981, not one was able to corral the trophy. Not Trevone Boykin, who led the Horned Frogs to a 12-1 record in 2014 – a season many thought should have earned the team a berth in the inaugural College Football Playoffs. Not even Andy Dalton, who quarterbacked TCU to a 13-0 record and a No. 2 national ranking in the final polls in 2010 (another season in which many thought the Frogs should have played for a national championship).

But like TCU’s long wait for a playoff bid, the wait for a Frog to take down the Davey O’Brien Award has ended.

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The Frogs’ playoff debut will come when they face Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl, the first of two semifinals to be played on New Year’s Eve. The Fiesta Bowl is in Tempe, Arizona, with kickoff at 3 p.m. Central time. The second semifinal, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, pits Georgia against Ohio State.

Both games will be televised on ESPN with the winners facing off for the national championship Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

The playoff matchups were set by the final College Football Playoff rankings, which saw Georgia at No. 1, followed by Michigan, TCU and Ohio State.

The O’Brien Award is one of the most coveted in college sports and all the more so for a quarterback who plies his trade in Fort Worth, home of the Davey O’Brien Foundation and the O’Brien Hall of Fame at the Fort Worth Club. The award will be presented at the Fort Worth Club in February.

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The O’Brien Award, of course, is just the latest in a string of awards Duggan is piling up this season. Earlier this week, Duggan became the first TCU quarterback to receive the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Last week he was named the Big 12 Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year, completing 65% of his passes with 30 touchdowns opposite just four interceptions. He rushed for 404 yards and six touchdowns.

Not bad for a guy who two years ago underwent nine hours of heart surgery for Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a rare condition that causes a faster than normal heartbeat, and who just this season lost the starting quarterback job to Chandler Morris only to win it back after Morris was injured in the season opener against Colorado.

And, of course, Duggan is one of four finalists for the biggest prize of all, the Heisman Trophy. which will be presented Saturday in New York to the player voted best in all of college football. Since 1981, 22 quarterbacks have won both the Heisman and the O’Brien award, the most recent being Alabama’s Bryce Young last season.

In fact, there have only been two occasions when a quarterback won the Heisman and did not also win the O’Brien Award. In 2002, USC’s Carson Palmer took home the Heisman but Iowa’s Brad Banks won the O’Brien. In 2004, USC’s Matt Leinart captured the Heisman while the O’Brien Award went to Jason White of Oklahoma, who won both awards the previous year.

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Dallas Cowboys star Troy Aikman won the Davey O’Brien Award after his senior year at UCLA (1988) but finished third in the Heisman voting.

Standing as Duggan’s prime obstacle to an O’Brien-Heisman sweep is USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who won the Maxwell Award as the college football player of the year on Thursday night and has been considered the Heisman front-runner for most of the season. Since 1937, when the Maxwell Award was first presented, the winner has gone on to win the Heisman Trophy 40 times, including seven of the past eight seasons. Davey O’Brien won the Maxwell as well as the Heisman in 1938.

Duggan is the fifth winner from the state of Texas to win the Davey O’Brien Award, joining Andre Ware (Houston, 1989), Vince Young (Texas, 2005), Colt McCoy (Texas, 2009) and Johnnie Manziel (Texas A&M, 2013). Of those, Ware and Manziel went on to win the Heisman.

Oklahoma has the most O’Brien Award winners with five, followed by BYU, Florida State and Florida with three each.

Here’s the complete list of Davey O’Brien Award winners:

1981: Jim McMahon, BYU

1982: Todd Blackledge, Penn State

1983: Steve Young, BYU

1984: Doug Flutie, Boston College

1985: Chuck Long, Iowa

1986: Vinny Testaverde, Miami

1987: Don McPherson, Syracuse

1988: Troy Aikman, UCLA

1989: Andre Ware, Houston

1990/1991: Ty Detmer, BYU

1992: Gino Torretta, Miami

1993: Charlie Ward, Florida State

1994: Kerry Collins, Penn State

1995/1996: Danny Wuerffel, Florida

1997: Peyton Manning, Tennessee

1998: Michael Bishop, Kansas State

1999: Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech

2000: Chris Weinke, Florida State

2001: Eric Crouch, Nebraska

2002: Brad Banks, Iowa

2003/2004: Jason White, Oklahoma

2005: Vince Young, Texas

2006: Troy Smith, Ohio State

2007: Tim Tebow, Florida

2008: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

2009: Colt McCoy, Texas

2010: Cam Newton, Auburn

2011: Robert Griffin III, Baylor

2012: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

2013: Jameis Winston, Florida State

2014: Marcus Mariota, Oregon

2015/2016: Deshaun Watson, Clemson

2017: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

2018: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

2019: Joe Burrow, LSU

2020: Mac Jones, Alabama

2021: Bryce Young, Alabama

2022: Max Duggan, TCU