PHILADELPHIA -- The Heisman Trophy Trust has presented the University of Pennsylvania with the Heisman Trophy in honor of John Heisman's distinguished career as both a student-athlete and coach at Penn.
Heisman Trophy Trustees Michael Comerford and Jim Corcoran presented the trophy to Penn President Amy Gutmann and Penn alum George Weiss during the University's dedication of the newly built George A. Weiss Pavilion at Franklin Field.
"The idea just seemed natural to have former Penn player and coach John Heisman return to historic Franklin Field as part of its new addition, the George A. Weiss Pavilion," said Penn's director of athletics, Steve Bilsky. "We're pleased and honored the Heisman Trustees would allow us to display college sports’ most recognized award."
Heisman was an 1892 graduate of Penn and was a two-time letter winner for the Quakers in 1890-91. During his playing career, Penn went a combined 24-5.
He returned to his alma mater as the head coach for three seasons from 1920-22. In that time, he went 16-10-2 with the Red and Blue.
Heisman is most noted as the man who revolutionized football into the today’s game. He invented the center snap, dreamed up the concept of the scoreboard, introduced the "hike" signal for initiating a play, led the fight to reduce the game from halves to quarters and is largely credited for inventing the forward pass, which was legalized in 1906.
The Heisman Trophy is one of the most coveted awards in college sports; it is given annually to the top college football player in America.
In 1935, at the insistence of the Downtown Athletic Club, Heisman organized the voting system to determine the nation's top player. Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago won the first award, and Heisman passed away shortly before the 1936 winner was announced. Shortly thereafter, the DAC unanimously voted to name the trophy after John Heisman.
The presentation came just prior to Penn's Homecoming victory over Brown at Franklin Field, the nation's oldest collegiate football stadium.
The Quakers have played more games than any other program in the history of college football at any level. The game with Brown increased Penn's NCAA record to 1,311 games played.