Archie Griffin is the only two-time winner of college football's Heisman Trophy, claiming the honors as a standout running back for Ohio State. Griffin maintains a close relationship with the Buckeyes program and college football in general. He has also partnered with the Wendy's High School Heisman to promote the mission of the award, which seeks to recognize the best male and female student athletes among America's senior class. He spoke with ThePostGame about this award and offered his thoughts on some of the biggest storylines in college football.
ThePostGame: What is it about the Wendy's High School Heisman award that distinguishes it from other awards given to high school athletes?
ARCHIE GRIFFIN: I think the thing that really distinguishes it is the fact that the person who wins it -- both a male and female win the award -- you have to be very well-rounded. You have to be an outstanding athlete, be involved in your school, and that to me makes a huge difference. ... Also, every high school in America can have a student nominated for the award. And you've got to be a senior to win.
TPG: For a lot of years, the SEC was seen as the dominant conference in college football. The last couple of years, those attitudes are changing, and the Big Ten is starting to be seen as the strongest league. What do you think?
GRIFFIN: There are several strong conferences, in all honesty. Certainly the SEC, and the Big Ten has made a big move toward being the strongest conference. But certainly the Big Ten and the SEC and the Pac-12 [are all very strong]. It's hard to tell unless you compete against each other on a consistent basis. When you look at what's going on right now, the Big Ten Conference has been really impressive.
TPG: What has contributed to that improvement?
GRIFFIN: It's coaches, recruiting, the fact that there is a national championship to play for and people want to be included in that. It's all of that. ... That was really exciting to play for last year, a true national championship. Folks are really recruiting toward getting recruits who are good students but also great individuals and talented football players.
TPG: Ohio State never really found its stride this season. Was last year's national championship a burden for the Buckeyes?
GRIFFIN: I don't have to tell you that. It's always difficult to repeat as a national champion. That had to be part of it, but the fact is the Buckeyes lost one football game. It was still a very successful season, and they get to play a great team in a bowl game. You look at the last four years, they lost four times in the last four years. If you asked most people, 'Would you take that?' I think they would.
TPG: Ezekiel Elliott's outburst after the loss to Michigan State has drawn a lot of attention. Do you see that as a heat-in-the-moment comment or a sign of friction within the team?
GRIFFIN: I don't know that there was friction all season long. I took that as a great player on that team was frustrated. Probably when you look back on it, he would wait to have said that to the coaches in person. I think a lot of people held that against him when it came to voting for the Heisman, which I think was wrong. I at least respect him for [making his comments] because it took guts. The players thought it, obviously, but Zeke said it, and it made a difference when they played Michigan. I respect him for it. He said some things that might be controversial, but they needed to be said. ... I hate that some folks held that against him.
TPG: You've said that you think Alabama's Derrick Henry will win the Heisman. What is it about him that separated him from the pack?
GRIFFIN: The workload that he carries. That really stands out. He carries a huge load for the offense's attack. ... [Deshaun Watson and Christian McCaffrey are outstanding players as well. [McCaffrey threw a couple touchdown passes. Watson is a dual threat. He's the only quarterback [among the Heisman finalists] and he almost has 900 yards rushing. I always say this: If they win it, they deserve it. So I gotta feel that a couple other guys who are not going to be at that Heisman ceremony, they still had Heisman Trophy-winning seasons. But only one can win it.
TPG: Do you think voters will ding McCaffrey because his team didn't make it to the College Football Playoff?
GRIFFIN: I hope they don't hold it against him at all. It's hard to say. But there's some other things that probably come into play, [his games on] the west coast -- they play so late at night, maybe a lot of people didn't get a chance to see him. But I think that he'll do pretty well regardless.